A Texas family is leading a search for an Army soldier whose base labeled him a “deserter” after he vanished more than two months ago.
Pvt. Richard Halliday, 21, was last seen by other soldiers at Fort Bliss Army base on July 24, shortly after he was disciplined by his unit for violating orders, Stars and Stripes reported.
Officials at the El Paso base claim that Halliday left on his own accord — but they searched his post, local hospitals and contacted law enforcement about his disappearance, the outlet reported.
When they were unable to track him down, they labeled him a “deserter” and took administrative steps to remove him from his unit, the outlet reported.
Halliday’s family, who’ve said they haven’t heard from him either, believe the army’s treatment of his case shows that he was like “an old shoe to throw out.”
“We don’t want the army to look bad, but where is he?” his mother, Patricia Halliday, told the outlet.
She said the family didn’t know that he was missing until Aug. 28 when she contacted his unit, though the base claims they did try to get in touch with them.
His family has since traveled to El Paso to hold demonstrations and rallies to raise awareness about his disappearance.
“We are extending our stay. We really believe there is a good chance he is still alive,” Patricia told the El Paso Times.
They have also expanded the search across the border into Juárez, Mexico and filed a missing person’s report with the local attorney general’s office, the outlet reported.
“We love our soldiers and we want to show them that we have their back. No soldier left behind,” she said, adding that “our children are not disposable.”