Bowe Bergdahl: From 'Ashamed to Be an American' to Promoted?
Monday, 02 Jun 2014 09:06 PM
By Jason Devaney
U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in 2009 and promoted twice — to Army specialist in 2010 and to sergeant in 2011 — during his five years in captivity is reportedly in line for another promotion.
His captivity ended in controversial fashion over the weekend.
Before he allegedly walked away from his post on the night of June 30, 2009, Bergdahl spoke in anti-American tones in an email to his father.
"I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools," he said, according to the New York Post. "I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting."
On Monday, CNN's Barbara Starr tweeted that the 28-year-old was never classified as a deserter and is scheduled to be promoted again. "Army first needs to hear from him directly what happened," Starr wrote.
According to the Army's official website, the rank up from sergeant is staff sergeant, followed by sergeant first-class.
Members of the military, including those who served with Bergdahl, say he deserted and left his fellow servicemen behind. In the weeks after he went missing, U.S. soldiers went looking for him during a series of missions that led to the deaths of six Americans.
Bergdahl was released Saturday in a prisoner swap, which saw the Obama administration free five Guantanamo Bay detainees — some of them senior members of the Taliban — in exchange for his freedom.
Bergdahl is currently at a military hospital in Germany as doctors nurse him back to health. He lost a considerable amount of weight during his time as a prisoner of war.
According to a Defense Department press release, Bergdahl is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Richardson, now Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, in Alaska.
Current and former soldiers have blasted President Barack's Obama's decision to free five enemy combatants for a person they call a deserter.
"I don't want him regarded as a hero," said Sgt. Evan Buetow, who was Bergdahl's team leader at the time he went missing. "I don't want him regarded as the example that soldiers should look up to, because he is the exact opposite of that."
Buetow said that the morning after Bergdahl left his post, a search of the area turned up intelligence from Afghan boys in a village.
"'Hey, we saw an American crawling through the weeds here this morning,'" Buetow recalled the boys' saying. "We thought that was interesting. That was our first knowledge that he did just walk away and was going somewhere . . . It all started to develop from there."
Later that day, Buetow said Bergdahl was spotted in another village asking for someone who spoke English so he could contact the Taliban.
"It was that quick that we realized that he's trying to reach out to the Taliban somehow," Buetow said.
In a first-person piece for the Daily Beast, former infantry officer Nathan Bradley Bethea, who served in Bergdahl's battalion in Afghanistan, wrote that Bergdahl is no hero.
"No human being deserves that treatment, or to face the threat of that treatment every day for nearly five years," Bethea wrote. "But that certainly doesn't make Bergdahl a hero, and that doesn't mean that the soldiers he left behind have an obligation to forgive him."
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, meanwhile, said Bergdahl's service in the military was "not honorable."
"The Obama administration tells America this soldier served 'with honor and distinction,'" Palin wrote on her Facebook page. "No, Mr. President, a soldier expressing horrid anti-American beliefs — even boldly putting them in writing and unabashedly firing off his messages while in uniform, just three days before he left his unit on foot — is not 'honorable service.' Unless that is your standard."