82nd deserter detained in S. Sudan with 2 former US servicemembers

South Sudan army soldier mans a machine gun/ Reuters

According to Department of State sources three American citizens were captured yesterday June 21st while trying to cross into South Sudan covertly without visas by SPLA forces near the city of Narus, a city sitting on a major traffic artery that acts as the predominant access point between South Sudan and Kenya.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) began as a rebel force but is now the recognized military of an independent country. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) is the military wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

Who are they

The three Americans identified as William Wright-Martinovich, Craig Austin Lang and Alex Jared Zweifelholfer, have all served in the US Armed Forces in the past with two of them more recently seen fighting in the Ukrainian Civil War conflict with a local militia unit known as the right sector against Russian separatist forces.

At least two of them have very colorful pasts in regards to their military service despite their young age and maintained a very active social media presence as recent as late April 2017.

Alex Zwiefelhofer, 21 from Bloomer WI,was a Private First Class with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division and he was declared AWOL and subsequently was placed on deserter status in October 2016 due to an unauthorized absence according to the 82nd Airborne Division PAO LTC Joe Buccino.

“The 82nd Airborne Division was made aware of the situation involving PFC Zwiefelhofer yesterday the 21st and is working with appropriate US authorities in the area to coordinate his return to military control” he added.

Craig Lang,27 from Ayden NC, is also a former U.S. Army soldier that drew national attention when two years ago drove from his base in Fort Bliss Texas nonstop to North Carolina with a car loaded with claymore mines and two M4 rifles after his pregnant wife sent him various videos of her having sex with other men. Once there he proceeded to mine the perimeter of her condominium with claymores and attempted to murder her.

He ended up serving only a few months of jail time and was released due to psychological/behavioral issues, and because according to him “the US Army knew that he had mental problems and did nothing to address them. I told my commanders repeatedly that I was going to murder her. The motherfuckers thought I was bluffing.” he said in July 2016 during an interview on a vice article featuring Americans fighting in the Ukrainian Civil War.

While in the Ukraine he fought with the right sector militia Right Sector a far-right Ukrainian nationalist political party that originated in November 2013 as a paramilitary confederation at the Euromaidan revolt in Kiev.

The last of the three, William Wright-Martinovich became a United States Marine in December 2012, Graduating from the Marine Corps recruiting depot in San Diego and with the E 2nd RTB Platoon 2109. Currently there are no information as to his service and is assumed to have ended under honorable conditions.

Where are they now

Earlier today control over the three American citizens was relinquished by the SPLA to the Kenyan national police and all three American citizens are currently held in the city of Kakuma and were moved today the 23rd to the capital of Nairobi pending turning over to US Embassy officials and repatriation.

It is unclear why they were traveling to South Sudan, a war-torn region without proper travel authorization or visas as required for all foreigners. Also of interest is that even though PFC Zwiefelhofer was on AWOL/deserter status his passport is not flagged and he was able to travel outside the United States to Europe, Ukraine, Turkey and now Kenya and South Sudan.

According to LTC Buccino “the 82nd Airborne is in the process of gathering all the facts and do not have answers to these questions at this time.”

Department of State officials when contacted refused to either confirm or deny the event.

Report has been updated to correct SPLA-IO to SPLA and the location of their arrest.

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