The release of former hostage Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five detainees from Guantanamo Bay created outrage in some military quarters, especially among the men who fought alongside him, many of whom claim he is a deserter, who allegedly caused 6 soldiers to die following his disappearance.
What bothers many former members of the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (4th BCT), 25th Infantry Division is that Bergdahl was hailed a hero by the Obama administration — although the narrative seems to be shifting as more information becomes public — and served “with distinction” which they emphatically deny.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has stated that once Bergadahl returns to the US — he is now being treated in a military hospital in Germany — any allegations surrounding his controversial disappearance will be “dealt with later.”
In the meantime, you can meet the 6 brave American soldiers that allegedly lost their lives — some in the search missions that directly involved looking for Bowe Bergdahl in 2009 — in and around the province of Paktika in Afghanistan:
2nd Lieutenant Darryn Andrews, 34,
From Dallas, Texas, he died September 4 in Paktika Province, when Taliban forces attacked the vehicle he was in with an improvised explosive device and a rocket-propelled grenade.
“We passed it on to our children, never thinking we would pay the ultimate sacrifice.” his mother Sondra told the Amarillo Globe News of one of the 6 soldiers that died looking for Bergdahl and served in the same unit.
Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen, 29
From San Antonio, Texas, he was killed by a roadside bomb on August 18, 2009, in Paktika Province in Afghanistan. Like Andrews he belonged to the 4th BCT.
Bowen’s mother said she spoke to her son the night before he died, “Clay called me around midnight to tell me I wouldn’t hear from him for a few days” and although she never heard from him again, she has his distinctive bass voice — the only one in the group — recorded in two CDs with the 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus.
Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss, 27
Of Murray, Utah, he died August 26 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, from wounds he sustained during an enemy attack while his unit was helping evacuate a hospital that was under enemy fire.
He was also part of the 4th BCT. According to the Desert News attempts to reach his family have been unsuccessful. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Private 1st Class Matthew Martinek, 20
From DeKalb, Illinois, he died on September 11, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany — the same hospital where Bowe Bergdahl is being treated now — from injuries he sustained on September 4, 2009, when Taliban attacked his vehicle with an IED. One of 6 soldiers also members of the 4th BCT.
His brother, Travis Wright, said Martinek didn’t discuss many details about his missions, but he “liked helping people.”
Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey, 25
Of Snyder, Texas, Murphrey died September 6, in Paktika province, from injuries he received during a Taliban attack with an IED.
On his 17th birthday his family took him skydiving, which sent him on the path to joining the military as an Army paratrooper, according to his obituary. He was married with two children.
Private 1st Class Morris Walker, 23
From Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was killed alongside Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen on August 18, 2009 by a roadside bomb in Paktika province in Afghanistan.
He was on the varsity basketball team, was student government treasurer, and worked with a community service club at his high school.
“He didn’t have to be a star of anything,” said Barbara Lambert, his guidance counselor. “He just wanted to be a participant.”
According to 4th BCT unit members serving with Bowe Bergdahl and some of the 6 soldiers who allegedly died looking for him, military resources were heavily diverted to search for the missing soldier and attacks increased in the following months.
[Images via US Army, Featured Image via Bowe Bergdahl is NOT A Hero Facebook Page]