Fellow soldier speaks out to FOX 5 on controversial release of B - KMSP-TV

Fellow soldier speaks out to FOX 5 on controversial release of Bergdahl

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Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

President Barack Obama's decision to release five Guantanamo Bay prisoners in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has the country talking.

Many soldiers who served with Bergdahl have come out to say that he is a deserter. By talking to the media, they are breaking the non-disclosure agreement they were forced to sign when they returned to the United States.


FOX 5 spoke with a soldier who was a fellow member of Blackfoot Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. He is a member of a local law enforcement agency and is still in the military. He fears reprisals if he speaks on camera, so we agreed to disguise his identity.

Here is our interview with him:

Miller: “Other paratroopers from Blackfoot company have said that Bergdahl was a deserter. Do you agree with that?”

Soldier: “There's no other name to call it. There's no other way to describe what he did. You can say he just walked off, but that's what he did. He deserted his post.”

“Myself and a number of others members of Blackfoot company believed that Bowe Bergdahl walked off the base leaving members of the 2nd Platoon pretty much defenseless on June 30, 2009.”

The combat operating post known as COP Mest was where Bowe Bergdahl was last seen.

There were reports that Bergdahl was kidnapped while going to the latrine. This soldier says that's virtually impossible. Their latrine was just an oil drum in the middle of the camp.

COP Mest was just a bit of high ground the Americans were holding. There are no buildings or high fences. He says you would never go anywhere without your rifle and protection.

Soldier: “His body armor, his helmet -- these are things indicative of somebody not being snatched in the dead of the night against their will.”

Miller: “By all accounts, Bergdahl was on guard duty at the time. As a soldier, what does it mean to leave your post?”

Soldier: “When you're asleep, you need to sleep knowing and having confidence that the person watching over you isn’t going to mess that up so that somebody could come in, enter the base in the dead of night and kill you before you even have a chance to react.”

What was this soldier's reaction when he heard what happened?

Soldier: “Just extreme disbelief that somebody would ever do something so reckless, so careless, and frankly so selfish.”

This soldier -- along with Bergdahl - got to Afghanistan in March 2009. His platoon worked night missions out of Forward Operating Base Salerno.

Soldier: “We were going on missions where we were chasing after known bad guys when we knew what their location was and we could actually act on that information and have a very high possibility of capturing them.”

Miller: “You guys had just gotten back from a mission, you just had gotten in bed on June 30th and the radio went off. So then what happened?”

Soldier: “As we were laying down, the word that we generally only hear at night was broadcast at around 7 o'clock that morning.”

They were told to grab a light assault pack for a 72-hour mission. They first flew to Sharana base where they were first briefed on the mission.

Soldier: “They said there was a “DUSTWON” -- which meant a friendly had been captured and more details were still coming in.”

That same day, they flew to Bergdahl's camp to help 2nd Platoon search for the missing soldier. Their helicopter was fired on as it landed in the remote spot.

Soldier: “We stayed there for about ten days on COP Mest -- my platoon – and we just ran mission after mission looking for him, just going through villages in the surrounding area.”

It was a massive operation.

Soldier: “Think of a small town and just going in every single building, every single room of those buildings, every single closet of those rooms, looking under every bed, looking in sheds if they had them.”

“Everybody in that part of Afghanistan was doing the same thing. Members of Blackfoot Company and members of the Geronimo Battalion and every member of the United States Army that I can speak for – we always wanted to get him back.”

Six days into the search, they were sent on Chinook helicopters on a strong lead.

Soldier: “We were going to do an air assault to investigate the possibility of whether Bergdahl could have been or had just been in this tent in the middle of nowhere.”

But it was a dangerous daylight mission and a high-level Taliban leader was in that tent.

Soldier: "They were shooting at the birds as we were coming in. As we were running off the helicopters, they were shooting at us.”

This soldier helped kill the Taliban leader using grenade launchers. They found a stockpile of ammunition, but no Bergdahl.

Now it is five years later and Bergdahl is in American hands.

Miller: “Many of the paratroopers in Blackfoot have said six fellow soldiers died during this operation in looking for Bergdahl or resources were moved elsewhere during this. How do you feel about what happened there?”

Soldier: “I think that those six are the real heroes. I think that those six lived and died as the epitome of selfless service. They understood fully the oath they took when they joined the military and they volunteered to become paratroopers.”

Miller: “Susan Rice, the National Security Advisor, said that Sgt. Bergdahl served with honor and distinction. How do you feel about that?”

Soldier: “Those paratroopers, for that to have happened, what they were thinking and their actions on the days that they lost their lives -- I don't think our keeping in the same line of thought that Bergdahl had when he decided to walk off. I think that those were the men who served with honor and distinction.”

Miller: “The United States traded five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for Sgt. Bergdahl. Do you think that's a good policy?”

Soldier: “I think it's an incredibly high price to pay.”

“I think this whole thing is insulting to anybody who sacrificed either some or gave the ultimate sacrifice in the capture and detention of these five detainees.”

This soldier and so many others have been frustrated for five long years that the American government won't let them tell the truth.

Miller: “You have signed a non-disclosure agreement with the military?”

Soldier: “I remember signing one and I remember them telling us, ‘You can't talk about what happened with Bowe Bergdahl.’”

“We had to sign it. I think that the shared mentality was we're going to talk about it amongst ourselves regardless and eventually there will come a time when the truth will come out.”

So what happens now that Bergdahl is free?

Soldier: “I think he needs to go and face a UCMJ -- a Uniform Code of Military Justice court. I think he needs to present the facts as he sees them and then allow other folks to present facts as they see them.”

“Americans deserve to know the truth.”

We asked an Army spokesman about these non-disclosure agreements. He told us: "During the normal course of investigations, a witness is often asked not to share their statements with others."

As for Sgt. Bergdahl, the Army says is not going to decide the next course -- and whether or not he stands trial -- until he has reintegrated and recovered.

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