Bowe Bergdahl: Truth, Justice, and the Men Who Died For Him
Bowe Bergdahl: Truth, Justice, and the Men Who Died For Him
If you read the news at all, you’re already aware of the Bowe Bergdahl story, or at least what the administration wants you to know. As the ‘official’ version goes, he was captured by the Taliban in 2009 and held ever since, only being released after long negotiations between the US government and an enemy that had already killed so many Americans. The United States traded five dangerous terrorists—who certainly will continue their lethal work now that they are free—for someone the administration tells us is a hero, a prisoner of war who experienced unspeakable horrors after being captured while defending his country.
That story is a lie.
All over this country, there are men who have been broken by explosions and destroyed by memories who know the truth about Bowe Bergdahl and his “captivity.” There are men who have paid dearly for the actions of one selfish person. There are men who would tell us the truth…if they were still alive to tell it. Truth that involves a man who spent his last months before deployment not like a soldier who may be celebrating his last months on earth, but like an enemy sympathizer preparing to join the other side. A man who walked off his post, walked through two villages, and asked to meet with the Taliban. A man who gave the enemy the intricate workings of American tactics, and the security procedures and vulnerabilities of the post he walked away from.
A man who, through his own selfishness, ensured his brothers would die in horrible ways…or that they’d live, in maybe even worse ways.
A few soldiers who served with Bergdahl have stepped up to tell their story, and it doesn’t match the official version of Bowe Bergdahl the American Hero. Cody, a man who has not confirmed his last name but claims to have been in Bergdahl’s squad, spent last night on Twitter dredging up memories he had tried so hard to forget, outlining the events leading up to deployment and the day Bergdahl walked off. From a statement analysis perspective, his account rings true. More of his brothers have come forward as well.
Many of Bergdahl’s fellow troops — from the seven or so who knew him best in his squad, to the larger group that comprised the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division — told CNN that they signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him. Some were willing to dismiss that document in hopes that the truth would come out about a soldier who they now fear is being hailed as a hero, while the men who lost their lives looking for him are ignored.
Men did lose their lives in the days after Bergdahl’s disappearance. Not faceless soldiers, but men with families and children, who were ordered to search for a fellow soldier who had done the unthinkable. Even worse was that the searches, Cody said, created a routine…and turned Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers into sitting ducks.
A huge thing in country is not building patterns. Well when you are looking for a person everyday that creates a pattern. While searching for him, ambushes and IEDs picked up tremendously. Enemy knew we would be coming. IEDs started being placed more effectively in the coming weeks. Ambushes were more calculated, cover and concealment was used.
Those heightened attacks, committed against soldiers trying to find Bergdahl before he could give the Taliban the information he possessed, would cost the lives of the following men:
Staff Sgt. Michael Murphrey, from Snyder, Texas, died when an IED, placed “more effectively” because of Bergdahl, blew up the vehicle he was in. Michael left behind a wife named Ashley, a son named Jaden, and a daughter named Cameron. He was remembered for putting his men first, and for being selfless and loyal. He was 25.
Pfc. Morris Walker, from Fayetteville, North Carolina, also died in an IED blast. He is remembered for his optimism, his infectious smile, and his desire to always be a part of something. He was a college graduate who served his community through volunteer work. Morris was 23.
Staff Sgt. Clayton Bowen, from San Antonio, Texas, died in the same IED explosion that killed Morris Walker. He was 29.
Pfc. Matthew Martinek, from Dekalb, Illinois, was mortally wounded in an attack that began with an IED and ended with RPG and small arms fire. He hung on for seven days, dying of his wounds on September 11, 2009 in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. He was the third generation in his family to join the Army. Always wanting to help people, Matthew was an organ donor. He gave his life trying to find Bowe Bergdahl, and even in death he saved the lives of other soldiers. He was 20.
Staff Sgt. Kurt Robert Curtiss, from Ogden, Utah, was shot during an enemy attack. He enlisted the day after September 11, wanting to help. He left behind a wife and two small children. He served two tours in Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan. He was 27.
2LT Darryn Andrews, from Dallas, Texas, was killed when Taliban fighters attacked his vehicle with an IED and RPG. He was known for his bear hugs, given in lieu of handshakes. He left behind a pregnant wife and 2-year-old son. He had a master’s degree from Texas State and was active in his church. He was 34.
These are the men who will never come home. They are the men who gave their lives trying desperately to find a fellow soldier who had engaged in the ultimate betrayal by deserting his post to go join the enemy. A man who had secretly planned, prepared, and executed a defection that he knew would take a heavy toll in blood from the troops who, a day earlier, would have given their lives to protect him.
Some feel that Bergdahl has paid enough in his five years with the Taliban. I would argue that his level of “payment” is highly dependent on the definition, in this case, of the word “with.” Was he a prisoner or a willing participant? Many claim that his use as a propaganda tool is something he did under duress, yet his statements on the Taliban videos sound a lot like what he was already saying in letters to his parents. Contrast Bowe’s actions with that of real POWs, such as Robbie Risner, who spent seven years not only as a POW, but as the ranking officer in his camp, responsible for the welfare and morale of his fellow prisoners. Risner spearheaded and was directly responsible for the ongoing resistance movement. In fact, Secretary of State John Kerry made more enemy propaganda videos than Robbie Risner did in his seven years of the most horrifying captivity imaginable.
And what of the men who come forward now, who break their non-disclosure agreements to set the record straight for the sake of the men who died, for the sake of the men who are barely surviving even today? Cody is afraid of legal action…or worse.
All politics aside I think we can reasonably agree that if you get on the wrong side of the current admin, they can and will strike you down.
The families of Extortion 17 would probably agree.
Bowe Bergdahl’s next few months are unknown at this point. His former squad leader mentioned that he believes “that an investigation should take place as soon as healthcare professionals deem him fit to endure one.” Meanwhile, the White House is ramping up to present Bergdahl to the country as a returning hero.
He is legally innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, this is true. In the memories of those who gave their all trying to find him, however, there is a deep and abiding hatred that lingers even now, five years later. As one soldier put it, “The amount of animosity toward him is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.” And yet, between doctor appointments and surgeries, rehab and therapy for injuries they received, in this midst of the nightmares and constant pain, those who only almost died now must watch as the person directly responsible for all of it comes home, hailed as a returning hero. Perhaps for some of them, it was better when they thought that just maybe the universe had righted the scales for them.
And what about Matt, Darryn, Clayton, Morris, Michael, and Kurt? They are still gone, along with so many more. Their education, productivity, optimism, class, integrity, and character…just gone. All that is left are their broken brothers, who must conjure up dark ghosts better left behind in order to tell a truth that the administration refuses to admit, and so many of the American people refuse to believe.
I wrote elsewhere that there are beliefs, and then there are facts. In a sane, logical world, facts trump beliefs every time, especially when those facts were paid for in blood. In the case of Bowe Bergdahl, that’s exactly how they were paid for. Bergdahl’s actions directly cost lives, and there is no higher cost in this life.
That’s why if he is convicted in a court-martial, he should pay with his own.