• 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

    Human remains discovered after Togiak house fire

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 04, 10:28

    Human remains were found in a bedroom after a house fire in Togiak, authorities say. Around 6:40 a.m. Thursday, a Togiak Village Police Officer notified Alaska State Troopers in Iliamna of a house fire, according to an online dispatch from AST. The VPO said the fire did not spread to a neighboring home and that […]

  • Weather

    Daybreak weather, Sept. 4

    by Rachael Penton on Sep 04, 10:02

    Anchorage Cloudy with rain during the morning and scattered showers for the afternoon. Highs in the mid to upper 50s. Kenai and Prince William Sound Cloudy with rain in the morning and scattered showers for the afternoon. Highs in the 50s. *A flood advisory is in effect through 1:45 p.m. for low-lying areas around Kenai […]

  • DayBreak

    Meet Sunkist, this week’s Daybreak Adopt-A-Pet

    by Daybreak Staff on Sep 04, 8:38

    From the Anchorage Animal Care and Control Center:  This boy can’t resist climbing on to your shoulders because he is determined to be loved — and he is 16 pounds of pure love. Sunkist is exuberantly outgoing and loves to hold a conversation (he can hold a meow like an opera singer holds a note). […]

  • News

    Invasive plant spreads to Interior Alaska beyond Fairbanks

    by Associated Press on Sep 04, 7:27

    An invasive plant species previously thought to only have invaded Interior waterways around Fairbanks has been spotted north of Nenana. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/1LP5Ifq) that federal agencies have confirmed that elodea has been found in Totchaket Slough, a small side stream of the Tanana River about 12 miles from Nenana. Elodea is a […]

  • News

    The deal is off: Berkowitz says muni won’t trade park land to airport

    by Daniella Rivera on Sep 03, 23:07

    A controversial land swap between the Municipality of Anchorage and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is off, according to Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. The deal would have turned some of Point Woronzof Park and part of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail into a runway. Many people in Anchorage who enjoy the park and trail and have been […]

  • News

    French investigators: Wing part is from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

    by CBS News on Sep 03, 22:35

    French investigators have formally identified a washed-up piece of airplane debris found in July on a remote island in the Indian Ocean as part of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 that disappeared more than a year ago with 239 people aboard. Investigators have been examining the wing part, called a flaperon, since it was […]

  • Lifestyle

    Swift swine race at the Alaska State Fair

    by Shannon Ballard on Sep 03, 21:15

    Which little piggy will win the big pig races the Alaska State Fair? Three times a day, six piglets get geared up and ready to run. They have some creative names, like Ham Solo and Lord Voldepork, but what you might not realize is these piggies sprint at about 17 miles per hour. They are American […]

  • On-Air

    Alaska Fishing Report for Sept. 3, 2015

    by Carlos Faura on Sep 03, 21:09

    Anchorage Lakes are getting better with the cooling water. Campbell Creek is OK for silvers and trout. Some silvers in Ship Creek below the dam.   Mat-Su Valley streams are getting better for trout. Lakes are cooling — that is good for fishing. Salmon runs are quickly winding down in the streams and rivers.   […]