(TIME Magazine) -- Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was freed by the Taliban over the weekend after they held him for nearly five years, in exchange for five Taliban leaders, who will spend a year cooling their heels in Qatar. You might have heard about it on the news.
Chances are you haven’t heard of the six soldiers who died hunting for him after he went missing, according to military officials. Now that Bergdahl has been sprung—in exchange for five senior Taliban officials, who had been imprisoned at Guantanamo—soldiers who served with Bergdahl are grumbling that he deserted and shouldn’t be hailed as a hero, especially given the resulting cost in American lives.
The bile surrounding his rescue is blunt on his Fort Richardson, Alaska brigade’s Facebook page:
“I say we welcome him home with a firing squad.,” one says. “He’s a piece of trash and everyone from [Fort Richardson] knows it the only person less American than that man is the president for giving up 5 hvt’s [High-Value Targets]”
“Now he can stand trial for deserting his post,” says one message on his unit’s Facebook page—a sentiment that has garnered 44 “likes”.
“Do you know how many families never saw their loved ones because of him?” a third poster asked.
Commenters who suggested such comments were unduly harsh were dismissed by and large. “Maybe if you knew the truth and the sacrifices made from people in our units in Alaska to find this douche you wouldn’t feel the way you do,” one responded to a poster urging restraint. “I feel worse for the kids who have to grow up fatherless cause their daddies died looking for this punk.”
Tellingly, President Obama lauded the “courage” of Bergdahl’s parents throughout his imprisonment, but merely extended an unadorned “welcome home” to Bergdahl himself.
Conflicting reports have surrounded Bergdahl’s disappearance. But there is evidence that he was upset over U.S. policy in Afghanistan and deserted his post in a war zone in Paktika province, in the southeastern part of the country by the Pakistan border, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.