Five years ago, I publicly raised questions about Bowe Bergdahl's desertion. A few weeks after his so-called “capture” in late June 2009, three conflicting accounts surfaced: U.S. officials told The Associated Press that Bergdahl had “walked off” the base with three Afghans; the Taliban claimed on its website that “a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison” and into their arms; and Bergdahl claimed in his Taliban “hostage video” that he had “lagged behind a patrol” before being captured.
Five years ago, one of the brave soldiers who risked his life to search for Bergdahl answered my questions, and I published his statement on July 20, 2009: “I know the story and the accounts that he was drunk or that he was lagging behind on patrol are not true — this soldier planned this move for a long time. He walked off the post with a day's supply of water and had written down before that he wanted to live in the mountains.”
After news broke of President Obama's trade of five high-level Taliban commanders at Gitmo for Bergdahl's “freedom,” I heard from another soldier who served on the search team. “Many of my brothers died because of Bergdahl's actions, and this has been a very hard day for all Geronimos,” he told me after documenting his proof of service.
My source still holds a highly sensitive position, so you won't see him all over the cable news shows. But he wants people to know the hell he and his comrades have been reliving: “Bowe's platoon was assigned to conduct security and stability operations ... . The untold background that led to Bowe's situation involves an article and pictures published by Guardian reporter Sean Smith.”
One of the battalion leaders punished soldiers, including Bergdahl (who had been photographed snoozing in his armored vehicle) with extra guard duty assignments for conducting operations in an unprofessional manner.
“Bergdahl was already disenchanted with the war effort,” my source said, “and I think the extra duty was the last straw for him.”
On the morning of June 30, 2009, “Bergdahl completed a guard shift, removed his equipment, weapon and sensitive items, and left OP MEST with several Afghan security forces personnel. ... His exact intentions may never be known, but he willingly walked off OP MEST and was secured by enemy forces not long after.”
My source, who had been up the previous night on a separate raid, was “shaken awake” on the afternoon Bergdahl disappeared. “We were told there was a DUSTWUN (Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown) and to pack for a three-hour assault. We received a brief that Bergdahl was missing, and we were going to get him. ... Sometime after dark we boarded CH-47s to assault an objective thought to contain Bergdahl. We never made it to the landing zone, as the helicopters took very heavy fire on approach to the objective and had to divert.”
The soldier recounted: “We averaged 18 to 22 kilometers a day on foot, clearing house to house, room to room, looking for Bergdahl. ... We even went as far as rappelling down wells and crawling through tunnels to look for him.”
My source did not mince words: “The fact that our government negotiated with terrorists and our enemy is incomprehensible. ... The worst part for those of us that suffered through that time is that Pfc. Bergdahl is being hailed as some kind of hero. ... I am glad he is safe, and happy for his family, but he should return home to face a court martial.”
Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2009).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Thomas, Moats only starting defensive players to see action vs. Panthers
- Experts warn Kane’s Haiti trip might jeopardize any case from 2014 wiretap
- Spreading the wealth: Gardeners share the excitement of saving, sharing seeds
- Gorman: Friday night to be strange without Fedko
- House Hunting: Highland Park home gets high-end treatment
- NFL notebook: Pierre-Paul reportedly set to return to Giants next week
- Kentucky county clerk Davis jailed for stand on same-sex marriage licenses
- Five taken to hospitals after school bus-SUV crash in Washington Township
- WPIAL football teams are adjusting to mid-cycle realignment
- McKeesport teen killed by school bus on Eden Park Boulevard
- Stocks end roller-coaster day higher