• 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

    Pentagon says it mistakenly shipped live anthrax to numerous labs and to US base in Korea

    by Associated Press on May 27, 17:41

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s investigating what the Pentagon calls an inadvertent shipment of live anthrax spores to government and commercial laboratories. Those labs had expected to receive dead spores. The CDC says, right now, it does not suspect there’s a risk to the general public. However, a U.S. official says […]

  • Sports

    Bartlett headed to state soccer tournament for the first time

    by Dave Leval on May 27, 15:50

    The Bartlett High School Golden Bears have unfinished business to take care of. The boys’ soccer team is headed to the state tournament for the first time. “I can’t even describe it in words, because it feels so good,” said midfielder Lorenzo Froeale. Some members of the Golden Bears admitted that thoughts of the tournament […]

  • News

    Gov. Walker tours Shell drill rig in Seattle

    by Associated Press on May 27, 15:28

    Alaska Gov. Bill Walker toured a massive oil drill rig parked on Seattle’s waterfront Wednesday before meeting with Gov. Jay Inslee to tell him that Washington’s position on future Arctic drilling will hurt his state’s economy. Walker says he was impressed by crew members and the safety features aboard the 400-foot-long Polar Pioneer, which Royal […]

  • Sports

    Asphalt track coming to Alaska Raceway Park

    by Dave Leval on May 27, 13:51

    Alaska Raceway Park will soon give drivers a chance to go in circles. Construction continues on a new one-third mile asphalt track. It will be the only one of its kind in Alaska since the old Northstar Speedway in Wasilla closed in 2012. “We need an asphalt venue here in the state,” said the track’s […]

  • DayBreak

    Russell Davis of ‘Bar Rescue’ tests the waters in Anchorage

    by Daybreak Staff on May 27, 12:48

    He’s a professional mixologist and bartender who has mixed his way to the top. Russell Davis can be seen on Spike TV’s show “Bar Rescue” helping people create cocktails worth drinking. Wednesday, Davis joined Daybreak to talk about what brings him to the 49th state. “So I’m actually here with my team, Unlimited Liabilities,” Davis […]

  • Sports

    East High School moves closer to hosting football on campus

    by Dave Leval on May 27, 10:52

    East High School has played its football games at Anchorage Football Stadium, but that could change. The Thunderbirds are a step closer to playing on campus, possibly this fall. Earlier this spring, boosters sought to raise $143,000 for a new scoreboard. Ads would be sold on it that would raise money for the school. The scoreboard […]

  • News

    Judge to hear arguments in Pebble case

    by Associated Press on May 27, 10:32

    A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday in a case alleging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency worked with critics of the proposed Pebble Mine with a predetermined goal to block the project. The lawsuit was brought by the Pebble Limited Partnership, which is seeking to advance the project near the headwaters of a […]

  • News

    Alaska National Guard welcomes new commander

    by Shannon Ballard on May 27, 10:00

    The new leader of the Alaska National Guard is starting her job with healing. Scandal rocked the Guard after a scathing report found serious problems in the ranks, including favoritism, lack of trust and allegations of sexual assault. Adjutant Gen. Laurie Hummel says her first priority is regaining that trust. Steps have to be taken […]