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AWOL Marine sentenced to time served and $1,166 fine

December 19, 2008 | 12:40 pm

A Marine who faked his own death and went on the lam for two years after coming back from duty in Iraq was sentenced today in a Camp Pendleton military courtroom to time already served and a forfeiture of $1,166 in pay. In addition, his case will be turned over to an administrative board to oversee his discharge.

Lance Cpl. Lance Hering, 23, of Boulder, Colo., received his sentence after pleading guilty to being AWOL for two years.

"Those were very dark days for me," Hering told the courtroom before the penalty was announced, saying his head was filled with "confusing images and violent thoughts."

In an emotional statement to the court, Hering's father described the time when his son was thought to be dead. He also thanked the Marine Corps for how it treated Lance Hering while in custody for the last 30 days.

Lloyd Hering recalled how in August 2006, the Boulder County Sheriffs Department told him his son had been injured and lost in a canyon.

"Lance was injured, and he was lost, but not in the ways we expected," the elder Hering said. He added that he didn't think his son was running away from going back to Iraq but from what he had seen there.

"If anything, he was running from where he had been," he said, referring to his son as a "wayward and wounded warrior." With tears in his eyes, he looked at his son and said his reappearance was "the best possible Christmas present your mom and I could ever have."

The tall, broad-shouldered Marine sat in the courtroom with his long locks freshly cut into a military buzz. He must still return to Boulder to face sentencing on charges of violating his probation stemming from a 2004 burglary conviction and on charges related to the hoax he pulled with a friend.

His friend reported to police in August 2006 that Hering had been badly injured in a fall during a hiking trip and wandered off. After a massive search, Hering could not be found. His fake death started a two-year odyssey that ended when he was arrested last month in Port Angeles, Wash.

--Tony Perry in San Diego