After five-years in captivity, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has just been released in exchange for five Taliban terrorists held at Guantanamo base, but his fellow soldiers are not jumping for joy. Much to the contrary, those who served alongside the former hostage believe he is a deserter, whose “selfish acts” cost the lives of “better men” than him.
Bergdahl is currently being treated by doctors at a hospital in Germany on phase two of a three phase reintegration process, before returning to the US.
Accusations of desertion have been thrown at the 28-year-old Sergeant, but nothing has been proven, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said no decisions have been made about possible prosecution.
Meanwhile, the reaction of those who served with Bowe Bergdahl is in stark contrast to that of the Obama administration, which is satisfied with his safe release.
Former Sergeant Matt Vierkant, who served with Bergdahl at the time he went missing on June 30, 2009, isn’t happy about the news:
“I was pissed off then, and I am even more so now with everything going on. Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”
Vierkant added that Bowe Bergdahl should acknowledge his actions and face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to CNN.
As to whether Bergdahl left his post without authorization or deserted, Hagel would not comment on direct questions from reporters following the surprise release in exchange for the five Taliban.
Hagel managed to skirt the issue with this bland remark:
“Our first priority is assuring his well-being and his health and getting him reunited with his family. Other circumstances that may develop and questions, those will be dealt with later.”
According to accounts from soldiers who were served with Bergdahl, the Army Sergeant was on guard duty and left his post with only a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary.
Many of the soldiers in Bergdahl’s platoon said enemy attacks appeared to increase in frequency following his disappearance, and at least six American soldiers were killed while searching for the missing soldier.
Even though many in the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division signed nondisclosure agreements, agreeing never to share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to find him, some were willing to discard their promise in order to prevent what they feel is a gross miscarriage of justice
Some have created a Facebook page — reportedly started by his platoon leader — called “Bowe Bergdahl is NOT a hero,” and they have also started a petition asking for the White House to punish the man for desertion during Operation Enduring Freedom.
According to accounts from those serving in 2009, the region became unstable following Bergdahl’s disappearance, when the military ordered all efforts to focus on locating the missing man.
“It was unbelievable,” a soldier serving with Bowe Bergdahl said. “All because of the selfish act of one person. The amount of animosity (toward him) is nothing like you’ve ever seen before.”
Bowe Bergdahl was the last American held in Afghanistan and his released has stirred controversy across the nation and the political spectrum, with some saying the negotiations with the Taliban in order to secure his release puts all American lives in danger.
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