The soldier men died trying to rescue and for whom five Taliban detainees were released from Guantanamo was a deserter, his fellow soldiers assert.
Recently released POW Sgt Bowe Bergdahl fled his outpost in southeast Afghanistan in June 2009, according to Army officer Nathan Bradley Bethea, who served in Bergdahl’s battalion.
“On June 25, we suffered our battalion’s first fatality, a platoon leader named First Lieutenant Brian Bradshaw. Five days later, Bergdahl walked away.” Bethea isn’t alone. Matt Vierkant and Jose Baggett, who both reportedly served in Bergdahl’s company, have also come forward.
“Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him,” Vierkant said. “I don’t understand why we’re trading prisoners at Gitmo for somebody who deserted during a time of war, which is an act of treason.”
According to Bethea, every member of his brigade combat team was ordered not to speak about Bergdahl’s disappearance “for fear of endangering him.”
At least six soldiers were killed in unsuccessful search and rescue missions for Bergdahl, whose rescue was made a top priority demanding reallocation of resources and personnel.
An email Bergdahl wrote to his parents shortly before his disappearance, reported in Rolling Stone in 2012, revealed frustration and intense anti-American sentiment: “The US army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at. It is the army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies. The few good SGTs are getting out as soon as they can, and they are telling us privates to do the same.”
When asked about the desertion charges yesterday, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that Bergdahl ”served the United States with honor and distinction. And we’ll have the opportunity eventually to learn what has transpired in the past years, but what’s most important now is his health and well being, that he have the opportunity to recover in peace and security and be reunited with his family. Which is why this is such a joyous day.”