Friday, Jan. 23, 2009 | 3:22 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
Justin Price, a civilian contractor in Iraq who had been facing a potential court martial, will soon be reunited with his wife and 9-year-old stepdaughter.
Price is scheduled to return to Las Vegas on Sunday, military officials told the Sun.
The 29-year-old aircraft mechanic was being investigated for a fire that damaged a Predator drone, and the Air Force wouldn’t allow him to leave Ali Air Base as scheduled on Jan. 17, when his 120-day rotation in the country ended.
The military told his defense lawyers that charges of arson and reckless endangerment were imminent. Price, who works on the unmanned drones as an employee of Las Vegas-based Battlespace Flight Services, said the fire was an accident.
In December the Justice Department declined to prosecute Price because of insufficient evidence, and last week Defense Secretary Robert Gates denied the Air Force the authority to try him with the military code of justice. That left Price free to go, and he departed the air base today, an Air Force spokeswoman said. Price will catch a flight back to the States this weekend.