Six soldiers died in the frantic search for Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal immediately after his mysterious disappearance five years ago, fueling the increasing backlash over the POW’s recovery.
Former platoon mates of the now-recovered serviceman accused Bergdhal of deserting his post and blamed him for the unnecessary deaths of comrades.
“I was [angry] then and I am even more so now with everything going on,” former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon, told CNN. “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”
Accounts of Bergdahl’s disappearance on June 30, 2009, have varied wildly.
And now CNN is reporting that at least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl in rugged Paktika Province in the ensuing days and weeks.
The six men reportedly killed while searching for Bergdahl were identified as Staff Sgt. Clayton Bowen and Pfc. Morris Walker on Aug. 18, 2009; Staff Sgt. Kurt Curtiss on Aug. 26; 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews and Pfc. Matthew Michael Martinek on Sept. 4; and Staff Sgt. Michael Murphrey on Sept. 5.
“He walked off,” said another comrade of Bergdahl’s, former Pfc. Jose Baggett.
“He left his guard post. Nobody knows if he defected or he’s a traitor or he was kidnapped. What I do know is he was there to protect us and instead he decided to defer from America and go and do his own thing. I don’t know why he decided to do that, but we spend so much of our resources and some of those resources were soldiers’ lives.”
Critics of the recovered soldier have even built a Facebook page, “Bowe Bergdahl is NOT a hero.” It links to an online petition demanding Bergdahl’s prosecution.
“Punish Bowe Bergdahl for walking off base with intent to not support the War On terror. Bowe Bergdahl broke several Articles under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and needs to be punished not rewarded,” according to the petition.
“Bowe Bergdahl, directly disobeyed the following articles Article 86 AWOL and Article 85 Desertion. both articles call for trial by court martial. He is not a hero and is directly responsible for several military members death. Bring punishment to Bowe Bergdahl and let the public know that the military holds all members to the same standard,” the petition states.
Read more at the New York Post.