Although the Obama Administration would like the American people to think otherwise, this is not a story from the Homeland TV show where a U.S. POW comes home to a hero’s welcome. President Obama took a victory lap with Bowe Bergdahl’s parents at the White House while Susan Rice, the National Security advisor, said he served with “honor and distinction.” American Thinker interviewed three soldiers, an exclusive with the Battalion Commander Sergeant Major Kenneth Wolfe, retired specialist Cody Full, and a soldier currently fighting in Afghanistan. All served with Bergdahl and want to discuss the issues surrounding the returned POW.
After the Obama Administration tried to paint Bergdahl as a hero returning home, soldiers who served with him erupted in outrage, accusing him of desertion and suppressing the truth. Then the spin started: a State Department spokesperson suggested that those who came forward were not “credible witnesses;” an administration official called the troops who served with Bergdahl “psychopaths;” and just a few days ago an article in the New York Times referred to them as “raggedy misfits.” To set the story straight, those interviewed wanted Americans to know that they all disagree with these comments.
Sergeant Major Wolfe found it “incredibly distasteful that the outspoken soldiers were attacked. There were only two bad leaders in the whole platoon. Did we take action to remove those bad leaders? Yes. Was it a bad platoon. No. Were the six outspoken bad soldiers? Definitely not.”
Both Wolfe and Cody Full refer to a picture taken of the platoon by a British journalist. It shows some, including Bergdahl, dressed up as Lawrence of Arabia. The Sergeant Major felt that “the picture showed that the men in the 501st did not completely think through their decision. This picture showed them being cool instead of being smart.” Full disagrees, noting that they wanted to be literally “cool,” but only to avoid sunstoke. The picture itself was used in an effort to create an agenda, since none were taken of the soldiers working hard building bunkers and securing the perimeter.
What everyone interviewed can agree on is that Bergdahl is a deserter, and they are glad he was brought home so he could be tried for his actions. Full told American Thinker that they were stationed in a small observation outpost. It was not hard for Bergdahl to walk off since he would have known the weak spots in the perimeter, the guard rotations, and the limits of visibility. Wolfe pointed out that security is meant to keep people out, not in, and no one dreamed that anyone would want to walk away considering the dangerous territory.
Full would love to have a face to face with Bergdahl considering that, “He betrayed us. My fellow soldiers came from different backgrounds, religions, regions, and ethnicities but the one common bond we have is that we are all Americans wearing the American flag on our shoulder. We are brothers. What ever happens I should have their back and they should have mine. For him to abandon us really hurt, and he should be held responsible for his actions.” Wolfe finds it very interesting that not one person who served with Bergdahl has come forward to defend him or his actions and told American Thinker, “Bergdahl was a f---ing soldier for not doing his duty.” An active soldier who went on some missions and operations to find him agrees that he is glad Bergdahl is back home because, “we are trained not to leave anyone behind. But it does turn my stomach upside down that people have called him a hero.”
There is a discrepancy between those interviewed as to whether soldiers lost their lives in searching for this deserter. The active duty soldier and Full say that some were killed or injured in the line of duty while the Sergeant Major denies that fact. He claims that anyone killed in that region during that time period was on a different mission. None of those directly involved in the search mission were killed, although he is not sure if anyone was injured. He does acknowledge that a part of every mission included a search for Bergdahl. However, he emphasizes that he wants the families to understand they were not misled, that their sons did not die in a direct search for the deserter.
Full responded, “everything is circumstantial and unless you are there you don’t know the whole story, including any mitigating circumstances.” He relayed how the unit was told by the platoon sergeant that they were transferring out of the outpost just before Bergdahl deserted. “We were to turn the operation over to the Afghan Army. Since he abandoned us we had to stay in that area looking for him. It is cause and effect; had he not walked away we would not have been in that location and those missions where people died would not have happened. He indirectly had a hand in their deaths. There are others who support me.”
Wolfe differs, noting that nobody knew when control of that outpost would have been relinquished to the Afghan National Security Forces. The decision would have been made when the tactical situation on the ground dictated it, considering this area was crucial because the insurgents coming from Pakistan went right through the village of Mest. What he will concede is that for 37 days there were search teams looking for “this guy. They had to do it in the middle of summer, wearing all their gear. Besides the hardship to these soldiers the search distracted from the original assigned mission. It threw our campaign plan off and that sucked.” Full says he must agree to disagree with Wolfe since he knows what was told to him by his sergeant and that his platoon sergeant had to get his orders from somebody.
Even though there were different perspectives and perceptions regarding some of the facts surrounding this issue, one fact that is absolute is that no one believes Bergdahl is an honorable soldier. They consider him a deserter who must be punished. Sergeant Major Wolfe summarized it best, “748 people deployed and 747 did their job and supported their fellow soldiers. I love these boys.”
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles