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Vietnam War Deserter Pleads Guilty

January 23, 1999

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) _ A Marine who fled to Canada during the Vietnam War pleaded guilty to the three-decade-old desertion and was given a bad-conduct discharge.

Warren R. MacDonald, 48, admitted to a charge of unauthorized absence on Friday during a special court-martial at this San Diego County base.

He was sentenced to six months in jail, although the time was reduced to the 23 days he spent in the base brig since his arrest last month, said Maj. Colby Vokey, his defense attorney. His rank was reduced from private first class to private.

MacDonald, who was born in Minnesota and held both U.S. and Canadian citizenship, joined the Marine Corps in 1967, less than a month after his 17th birthday. He fled boot camp for Canada in 1968.

MacDonald, who owns a mobile welding firm near Nanaimo, British Columbia, was arrested in Phoenix by U.S. Customs Service agents during an airport layover as he and his wife headed to Mexico for a vacation.

MacDonald agreed to plead guilty under a pretrial agreement. ``He said he is ready to put closure to this and get back to his life in Canada with his wife and family and business,″ Vokey said.

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