• 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

    Orphaned cubs find a home at Fortress of the Bear

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 21, 17:40

    One look at Sitka’s Fortress of the Bear and it’s easy to see how the rescue facility got its name. Brown bears roam around the two large tanks leftover from Sitka’s pulp mill that closed in 1993. “We’ve managed to upcycle these strong, industrial spaces into some really impressive bear habitats,” said bear manager Claire Turner. […]

  • News

    Mat-Su School District temporarily bans military recruitment

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 15:22

    The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District has temporarily banned military recruitment from the district’s schools. This announcement follows the Anchorage School District’s ban of all military recruiters after the recent reports of alleged misconduct by Alaska Army National Guard recruiters on school campuses. In a release from the Mat-Su Borough School District, Dr. Deena M. Paramo publicized the change […]

  • Lifestyle

    Anchorage conducts survey on homelessness

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 14:23

    Anchorage residents can voice their opinion in a survey about homelessness in the municipality. The results of the survey will be used as an informational source as officials work toward developing a five-year plan on how to end homelessness, according to a press release. Groups involved in the plan are the Anchorage Department of Health and […]

  • Crime

    Police seek armed robbery suspect, stolen truck

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 13:14

    Police say they are looking for a suspect and a stolen truck after an early morning robbery in South Anchorage. The victim told police she was trying to find a parking spot at an apartment complex on the 1700 block of Lore Road around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday when she was approached by a handgun-wielding woman, […]

  • On-Air

    ‘Edge of Alaska’ star discusses life in McCarthy

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 11:34

    Located at the foothills of the Wrangell Mountains, 65 miles west of the Yukon Territory border is a place once known as a sinful getaway for the workers of nearby Kennecott. McCarthy, according to the 2010 census, has only 28 yearly residents. This remote location is the setting of a new reality show hitting airwaves on […]

  • Crime

    Man fleeing police arrested outside Juneau school after hit-and-run

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 11:10

    A driver trying to dodge police was arrested after a crash near a Juneau high school Monday. Jose Angel Munoz, 42, was arrested after a collision with an 82-year-old driver, according to a press release from the Juneau Police Department. He was wanted on a warrant issued Sept. 26 for drug and felony driving-under-the-influence charges. […]

  • Sports

    UAA volleyball setter receives GNAC Player of the Week honors

    by KTVA Sports on Oct 21, 10:22

    No surprise … another honor for the UAA volleyball team. Sophomore setter Morgan Hooe is the GNAC Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week.

  • On-Air

    Travel Tuesday: Airfare 9-1-1

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 10:07

    Airfare 9-1-1 alert: feuding airlines means airfare drops for you! Get those carry-ons ready, Daybreak’s travel guru Scott McMurren is back on the couch with some deals you just can’t refuse. McMurren says if the first snowfall of the year has you thinking about getting away, there’s no better time than now. Anchorage to Houston […]