• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
5m 57s

Bowe Bergdahl en route back to U.S.

By CBS/AP 4:02 PM June 12, 2014

Last Updated Jun 12, 2014 6:00 PM EDT

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years as a captive in Afghanistan, left Germany Thursday en route for the United States, the Pentagon said.

Bergdahl departed aboard a U.S. military plane and was expected to arrive at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio early Friday, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.

Officials had previously said the intention was for Bergdahl to be reunited with his family at Brooke Army Medical Center.

The staff at Brooke has rehearsed for his arrival every six months since he was taken hostage, CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reported.

The first two phases of reintegration involve medical and psychological examinations, and interviews to get time-sensitive information about the enemy. Bergdahl has gone through part of the process overseas.

The final phase for Bergdahl’s reintegration at Brooke will focus on giving him a sense of control over his life. Simple things – like deciding what he will eat, wear, and when he can go outside or sleep. He will also slowly be reintroduced to his family.

Bergdahl was recently released after five years as a prisoner of the Taliban. In exchange, the U.S. released five detainees from a detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Part of the debate around the Obama administration’s decision to free Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl has been the murky circumstances surrounding his disappearance and capture in 2009. Critics call him a deserter or a traitor; others call him simply confused.

Martin reported that one Pentagon official described him as “at worst, a deserter. At best, a stupid kid who caused us to expend great energy and resources to bring him home.”

In Facebook posts written before he vanished from his military base in Afghanistan, Bergdahl spoke of his frustration with the world and his desire to change the status quo.

He criticized unnamed military commanders and government leaders and mused about whether it was the place of the artist, the soldier or the general to stop violence and “change the minds of fools.”

In his personal writings, he seemed to focus his frustrations on himself and his struggle to maintain his mental stability.

Together, the writings paint a portrait of a young man who was dealing with two conflicts – one fought with bullets and bombs outside his compound, the other fought within himself.

Bergdahl’s Facebook page was found by The Associated Press Wednesday, and it was suspended by Facebook for a violation of its terms a short time later. Bergdahl opened the page under the name “Wandering Monk.” His last post was made May 22, 2009, a few weeks before he was taken prisoner.

Mary Robinson, a Facebook friend of Bergdahl, worked with him in a massage center and tea house near his home when Bergdahl was in high school. Robinson said she didn’t know why Bergdahl chose the Wandering Monk moniker.

“He was really, really grounded. He was curious. He wasn’t one who was partying as some kids do,” Robinson said while verifying it was Bergdahl’s Facebook page. “He was going over there with all the good intentions of serving his country.”

In his May 22 post, Bergdahl described what was supposed to be an 8-hour mission in the mountains of Afghanistan. The mission instead took five days after vehicles in the convoy became disabled from roadside bombs. The group had to camp outside a small mountain town, Bergdahl wrote in the frequently misspelled posting.

When the convoy finally started back to the base, they traveled along a creek bed in a long, deep valley lined with trees and boulders. Again one of the vehicles hit an improvised explosive device, according to Bergdahl’s post, and as the soldiers tried to hook the vehicle to a tow strap they began taking fire from people hidden on the hillside.

Enemy combatants “begain (sic) to splatter bullets on us, and all around us, the gunners where only able to see a few of them, and so where firing blindly the rest of the time, up into the trees and rocks,” Bergdahl wrote.

When a machine gun mounted on the truck carrying Bergdahl quit working, he had to hand over his own weapon to the gunner.

“I sat there and watched, there was nothing else i was allowed to do,” he wrote.

No one was killed in the encounter, but Bergdahl was frustrated by the danger and the situation.

“Because command where too stupid to make up there minds of what to do, we where left to sit out in the middle of no where with no sopport to come till late mourning the next day. … But Afghanistan mountains are really beautiful!” he wrote.

About two and half weeks after his last Facebook post, Bergdahl sent a partially coded email to Kim Harrison, a longtime friend, suggesting he had concerns about his privacy and so couldn’t share his plans.

Harrison shared that email and other personal writings of Bergdahl with the Washington Post because she said she’s concerned about the way he’s being portrayed, as a calculating deserter.

Two weeks after the coded email, Bergdahl vanished from his base. A box containing his journal, laptop computer and other items arrived at Harrison’s home several days after that.

The writings she found were more disturbing than the ones Bergdahl put on Facebook.

“It’s about my concern for Bowe and others and that’s why I talked,” she told the AP. “I’m not talking anymore.”

Bergdahl’s journal appeared to detail his struggle to maintain his mental stability during basic training and his deployment to Afghanistan.

“I’m worried,” he wrote in an entry before deployment. “The lcoser I get to ship day, the calmer the voices are. I’m reverting. I’m getting colder. My feelings are being flushed with the frozen logic and the training, all the unfeeling cold judgment of the darkness.”

Later, he wrote, “I will not lose this mind, this world I have deep inside. I will not lose this passion of beauty.”

The writings weren’t the first time Bergdahl’s friends were worried about his emotional health, Harrison told the Post. In 2006, he left the U.S. Coast Guard after 26 days in basic training in an “uncharacterized discharge,” according to Coast Guard records, the Post reported. Harrison said it was for psychological reasons.

But when he joined the Army in 2008, the military was dealing with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and was regularly issuing waivers that allowed people with criminal records, health conditions and other problems to enlist. The military declined to say whether Bergdahl was given such a waiver.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Paramo named new ASD superintendent

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 03, 7:46

    Dr. Deena Paramo has been named as the next superintendent of the Anchorage School District. “Dr. Paramo is an innovative and compassionate leader with a strong commitment to public education,” said Anchorage School Board president Kameron Perez-Verdia in a statement. “The board was particularly impressed by her energy, innovative ideas and student-focused thinking.” Paramo, who […]

  • Politics

    Legislature pursues Wells Fargo office space, says current LIO is ‘off the table’

    by Liz Raines on May 03, 7:40

    The Legislative Council voted Monday to negotiate buying the Wells Fargo building on the corner of Minnesota Drive and Benson Boulevard in Anchorage at an amount not to exceed $12.5 million. Sen. Gary Stevens, chair of the council, said purchase of the downtown Anchorage Legislative Information Office is now “off the table” after Gov. Bill […]

  • News

    Birch pollen count in Fairbanks sets new record

    by Associated Press on May 03, 6:00

    Fairbanks’s birch pollen count this year has set a new city record. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that the birch pollen count at the Tanana Valley Clinic was 4,290 on Monday, shattering the previous record of 3,900 from two years ago. [Related: Alaska allergy season starts early, expected to last longer] Laboratory technician Susan Harry, who […]

  • Politics

    Alaska House takes up crime bill on day 105 of session

    by Liz Raines on May 02, 22:52

    It’s been 15 days since the legislative session was supposed to be over. Members of House leadership say they have to pass a budget before gaveling out, but they spent Monday working on a different measure. Senate Bill 91 would revamp the way the state approaches criminal justice. Gov. Bill Walker and Department of Corrections […]

  • News

    Anchorage students raise money for victims of Ecuador earthquake

    by Alexis Fernandez on May 02, 20:33

    A group of Anchorage middle school students is raising money for the people most affected by the recent earthquake in Ecuador. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed more than 65o people in Ecuador’s northwest coast two weeks ago. Elizabeth Renteria’s Spanish class at Central Middle School is selling homemade bracelets for $1 as part of an ongoing […]

  • Sports

    Dimond High School hockey star signs to play college football

    by Jake Edmonds on May 02, 20:22

    When Chris Gardeline started playing hockey at 8-years-old, his goal was to one day make it to the college level. He never expected it would be on the gridiron. Gardeline was a goalie for the Dimond High School Lynx. After wrapping up his senior season on the ice, his football friends convinced him to join […]

  • Lifestyle

    Lasers replace traditional drills at local Anchorage dentist office

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 02, 20:05

    For some people, a trip to the dentist can be trauma inducing. Finding out you need a root canal or even a cavity filled isn’t fun, but what if you could have those procedures done without using needles or drills? One local dentist says it’s possible with lasers. Dr. Kirk Johnson has used lasers in […]

  • News

    Anchorage’s first food truck hub opens for summer

    by Shannon Ballard on May 02, 19:59

    Can’t decide where to eat for lunch? There are now several more options in downtown Anchorage. The city’s first food truck hub opened on Monday at the corner of Eighth Avenue and K Street. Known as “K Street Eats,” many vendors are hoping it will be boost to their business. Sugar House Waffles has been in […]