Bergdahl Was a Deserter: Fellow Soldier

He's no 'hero,' writes Nathan Bradley Bethea

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 2, 2014 10:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – Bowe Bergdahl's release is being widely celebrated, but some soldiers from his platoon are calling for him to face trial for desertion—and in the Daily Beast, a soldier from his battalion delves into more detail about what really happened to Bergdahl in 2009. Nathan Bradley Bethea was part of the search for Bergdahl; he's talked to members of Bergdahl's platoon, including the last people who saw him before he was captured by the Taliban; he's reviewed documents. "And ... the truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down," Bethea writes. He walked off after being relieved from guard duty in the middle of the night. Though rumors to that effect cropped up after he was captured, the widely accepted story in news reports at the time was that he lagged behind while on patrol. But "there was no patrol that night," Bethea writes. The simple truth is that Bergdahl "fled the outpost."

But "every member of my brigade combat team received an order that we were not allowed to discuss what happened to Bergdahl for fear of endangering him," Bethea writes. Now that Bergdahl's safe, it's time to face some hard truths: Bethea names six soldiers who died while searching for Bergdahl, and two more who may have died because their company did not have its normal complement of intelligence aircraft before it was attacked—because the priority at the time was to use those aircraft in the search. "Bergdahl ... deserves sympathy, but he has much to answer for," Bethea writes. While he doesn't think Bergdahl will be punished (neither does at least one senior military official), he thinks the Army owes us an official explanation. Barring that, he writes, we should remember that Bergdahl is no "hero." Click for his full column.

This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.   (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
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