• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: DIRECTV Customers: Tell DIRECTV to bring back KTVA - Call 800-531-5000. - Read More
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
4m 18s

Bowe Bergdahl: Hero or deserter?

By CBS/AP 3:50 PM June 2, 2014

In his hometown of Hailey, Idaho, signs celebrate Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release after he was held for five years by the Taliban. But there is concern, especially in military circles, about whether Bergdahl should be welcomed as a hero, or punished as a deserter.

It is widely believed that Bergdahl walked off the base where he was stationed in Afghanistan in 2009. CBS News’ David Martin reports 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.”

A Pentagon investigation concluded in 2010 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his unit, and after an initial flurry of searching the military decided not to exert extraordinary efforts to rescue him, the AP reported Monday, citing a former senior defense official who was involved in the matter.

The former Pentagon official told the AP it was “incontrovertible” that he walked away from his unit.

The military investigation was broader than a criminal inquiry, this official said, and it didn’t formally accuse Bergdahl of desertion. In interviews, members of his unit portrayed him as a naive, “delusional” person who thought he could help the Afghan people by leaving his army post, the official said.

Former members of Bergdahl’s unit have taken to the airwaves and social mediacalling him a deserter and alleging other soldiers were actually killed searching for him.

Josh Korder, a former sergeant in Bergdahl’s unit, has the names of those soldiers tattooed on his body.

“They were never nationally televised for their sacrifices in the way that he is and he pretty much voluntarily walked away and in turn, caused, you know, the actions that may have killed them,” Korder told CNN.

Nathan Bradley Bethea, who served as an officer in Bergdahl’s unit, said in an article Monday on the Daily Beast website that Bergdahl was not on patrol, as some reports have suggested.

“There was no patrol that night,” he wrote. “Bergdahl was relieved from guard duty, and instead of going to sleep, he fled the outpost on foot. He deserted. I’ve talked to members of Bergdahl’s platoon – including the last Americans to see him before his capture. I’ve reviewed the relevant documents. That’s what happened.”In his piece, Bethea named six American soldiers he said were killed in the search for Bergdahl.

“For the veterans of the units that lost these men, Bergdahl’s capture and the subsequent hunt for him will forever tie to their memories, and to a time in their lives that will define them as people,” Bethea wrote. “He has finally returned. Those men will never have the opportunity.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declined to comment on earlier reports that the sergeant had walked away from his unit, disillusioned with the war. Such matters “will be dealt with later,” Hagel said.

Hagel, visiting troops in Afghanistan, was met with silence when he told a group of them in a Bagram Airfield hangar: “This is a happy day. We got one of our own back.”

Rolling Stone magazine quoted emails Bergdahl is said to have sent to his parents that suggest he was disillusioned with America’s mission in Afghanistan, had lost faith in the U.S. Army’s mission there and was considering desertion.

Bergdahl told his parents he was “ashamed to even be American.” Bergdahl, who mailed home boxes containing his uniform and books, also wrote: “The future is too good to waste on lies. And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong.”

Detractors have created a Facebook page called “Bowe Bergdahl is NOT a hero.” There is also a petition calling for Bergdahl to be court martialed for desertion. “Bring punishment to Bowe Bergdahl and let the public know that the military holds all members to the same standard,” the petition reads.

Back in his Idaho hometown, CBS News’ Bigad Shaban reports how Bergdahl’s supporters in the tight-knit community are preparing a hero’s welcome. The annual “Bring Bowe Back” rally later this month has been turned into a celebration now called “Bowe IS Back.”

Questions about his capture, supporters told Shaban, aren’t their concern.

“He did his best to be an Army soldier,” said Sue Martin, the owner of Zaney’s River Street Coffee House, where Bergdahl used to work. “He’s done enough after five years.”

CBS News/AP

Latest Stories

  • News

    Hostetler Park renovation project includes new plan for Alaska Victims Memorial

    by Eric Ruble on Feb 26, 18:45

    A small park in the northwest corner of downtown Anchorage will soon have a new look. Hostetler Park is located where Third Avenue becomes L Street. Since 1994, the eastern portion of the park has been occupied by the Alaska Victims Memorial. It includes the names of more than 350 Alaskans who died because of […]

  • Weather

    Alaska Weather Forecast – Feb. 26, 2017

    by KTVA Weather on Feb 26, 18:38

    Meteorologist Melissa Frey says most of the state will see some amount of snow, but Southeast will stay dry through Monday. Follow KTVA 11’s Weather Team on Facebook and Twitter. Got a weather-related photo or story idea? Email the team at weather@ktva.com.

  • News

    Officials readying for Eielson F-35s to spur housing crunch

    by Associated Press on Feb 26, 18:18

    Officials are preparing for a possible housing crunch in 2020 that is expected to coincide with an influx of servicemen tied to the two new F-35 squadrons coming to Eielson Air Force Base. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports one part of the Fairbanks North Star Borough is estimated to need 800 units of housing by […]

  • Politics

    White House to propose slashing agency budgets

    by Associated Press on Feb 26, 18:07

    The White House is moving to propose slashing cuts to longtime Republican targets like the Environmental Protection Agency in a set of marching orders to agencies as it prepares its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Capitol Hill aides say the White House budget office on Monday will send agencies proposed levels for the 2018 […]

  • Politics

    Agency publishes timetable for Mexico border wall

    by Associated Press on Feb 26, 18:04

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it plans to start awarding contracts by mid-April for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. The agency said Friday on a website for federal contactors that a request for bids would be published on or around March 6. Companies would have to submit “concept papers” to design and build […]

  • Lifestyle

    2017 Fur Rondy snow sculpture winners announced

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 26, 17:49

    One of the most popular events at Fur Rendezvous is the snow sculpture competition. On Sunday, Fur Rondy officials announced the winners of this year’s event. While the competition is over, the public will be able to see each of the snow sculptures through the end of Fur Rondy on March 5, weather permitting. They are […]

  • Lifestyle

    Roxy Wright wins Fur Rondy sled dog races

    by KTVA Sports on Feb 26, 17:45

    Roxy Wright took home top prize at the 2017 Fur Rendezvous World Sled Dog Championship races over the weekend. The races take place over three days as competitors sprint a 25-mile loop through Anchorage, running a total of 75 miles. This year’s championship had the largest prize purse ever of $100,000. In perspective, last year’s […]

  • Lifestyle

    Denali National Park and Preserve celebrates 100 years

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 26, 16:02

    The Denali Visitor Center is open during winter for the first time ever as the park celebrates its centennial, park officials say. The Denali National Park and Preserve was established on Feb. 26, 1917 as Mount McKinley National Park, park spokeswoman Katherine Belcher explained in a statement. The park’s name was later changed, followed by the […]