• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: Follow our AFN Live Blog - Read More
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

    Flash mob brings opera to students at Clark Middle School

    by Lauren Maxwell on Oct 20, 20:11

    Students at Clark Middle School got more than they bargained for at the school cafeteria on Thursday. Lunch came with a side of opera and dance, courtesy of a flash mob. Several members of the Anchorage Opera dressed as cafeteria helpers surprised students by bursting into song for a short performance from Rigoletto. Bruce Wood, […]

  • Anchorage police want to teach you how to track local crime online

    by Shannon Ballard on Oct 20, 19:56

    The scanners may be turned off but the Anchorage Police Department (APD) says there is another way to figure out when crime is happening in your neighborhood. For the first time, the Anchorage Police Department is hosting a series of Community Crime Map training events. The technology has been around for years and officers say […]

  • News

    50 years later: AFN remembers milestones, talks unfinished business

    by Liz Raines on Oct 20, 19:15

    The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) kicked off its annual convention in Fairbanks Thursday. This year, with a milestone. It’s been 50 years since Alaska Natives banded together to reclaim lost lands, a bond forged through long hours, and endless determination. “We took the heat, the criticism, the negative editorials,” remembered Emil Notti, one of […]

  • Politics

    ‘I am so done with it’: Voters feeling fatigued this election season

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 20, 18:43

    With the final presidential debate wrapped up and the presidential election only 18 days away, the candidates have a short time left to win over voters. But do voters want to be won over? Or are they just over this election? Election fatigue is when people start feeling exhausted by non-stop coverage. The Pew Research […]

  • On-Air

    Reality Check w/ John Tracy: It’s time Anchorage gets excited about Uber

    by John Tracy on Oct 20, 16:26

    On a recent trip outside Alaska, I decided to find out what all the fuss was about concerning the ride sharing company Uber. I’m not the most technically savvy guy, but even without the help of my teenager, I downloaded the app and reluctantly gave Uber my credit card number. When I arrived at the […]

  • News

    Alaska Native remains could return home from Pennsylvania

    by Associated Press on Oct 20, 14:46

    A small group of people are working with the U.S. Army to bring home the remains of 15 Alaska Natives who attended a boarding school in Pennsylvania more than a century ago. The Carlisle Industrial Indian School was founded in 1879 by Richard Henry Pratt. The Army officer created the military-style school on the belief […]

  • News

    Crews hope to reach full containment of Moose Creek Fire by weekend

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 20, 13:12

    Last updated at 2:40 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20   The latest fire map from the Alaska Division of Forestry shows the Moose Creek Fire is 70 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon. “If (weather) stays the way it is right now we’re hoping for full containment by the end of shift Friday,” Phil Blydenburgh, Incident […]

  • Weekend concert to benefit Alaska Music Project for Youth

    by Daybreak Staff on Oct 20, 12:58

    Just how easy is it to record a song? J.W. Frye and Matthew Brenna with Alaska Music Project for Youth (AMP) showed Daybreak how it’s done. The organization is also holding a benefit concert, with headliner Black Water Railroad Company, on Oct. 22 at Williwaw. Proceeds will help AMP hit its goal of 18 mobile […]