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Military: Bergdahl had left his post at least once before Taliban capture

By Margaret Brennan / CBS News 4:40 PM June 4, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl remained in a U.S. military hospital in Germany Wednesday night.

In the meantime, we’ve learned more about his service record in Afghanistan, in the months before he was captured.

When he was captured, Bergdahl had less than a year of military service and his official performance record was without blemish.

But an internal military investigation conducted after his 2009 disappearance found that he had wandered off post without permission at least once before.

 

bergdahlcaptivesitting.jpg
Bowe Bergdahl had left his post without permission at least one other time before his capture

 

Yet his unit members failed to report it.

Fellow soldiers told investigators that Bergdahl had talked about wanting to explore Afghanistan, and exhibited behavior that some considered strange.

Then on the night of June 30, 2009, Bergdahl neatly stacked up his equipment, and walked off the outpost in eastern Afghanistan.

A retired army commander tells CBS News that in the weeks that followed, military and intelligence operations in the area ‘dramatically increased.’ Some of those patrols succeeded in eliminating many enemy combatants, but also led to the loss of some U.S. soldiers.

One of them was 20-year-old Private Matthew Martinek. He was killed three months later on patrol in the same province where Bergdahl disappeared.

“He loved his country, he loved his family,” his mother, Cheryl Brandis, said.

Brandis and Martinek’s stepfather, Ken Luccioni, said fellow soldiers told them their son died while searching for Bergdahl.

“I’m happy he’s home, I’m happy for his family that their son is not in harm’s way anymore, but now he needs to stand up as a man and be accountable for the actions that he did and what it caused,” Luccioni said.

On Wednesday Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he had not seen any evidence that soldiers had died because of Bergdahl’s disappearance.

If the military accuses him of misconduct, what might they charge him with?

We did learn today that Bergdahl’s unit established that he had been captured within 30 minutes of his disappearance. To be charged as adeserter, you need to have been voluntarily gone from your post for 30 days. So until we hear Bergdahl’s side of the story, it’s really unclear what charges he could face.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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