Bergdahl release stirs resentment, soldiers want truth
Tuesday, June 03, 2014 - 02:19
June 3 - As Bergdahl emerges from five years of Taliban captivity, former comrades accuse him of walking away from his unit and prompting a manhunt they say cost the lives of at least six fellow soldiers. Jillian Kitchener reports.
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After five years of Taliban captivity, U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been freed in exchange for five Taliban prisoners.
But the sense of pride expressed by the Obama administration is not shared by everyone.
His disappearance is shadowed with doubt by some soldiers who served with him in Afghanistan.
During a Skype interview, Bergdahl's former squad leader, Greg Leatherman, says he left his unit by his own free will:
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER SQUAD LEADER, GREG LEATHERMAN, SAYING:
"I know that when he left, he dropped all of his sensitive items like his weapon, his night vision, his body armor -- all of that stuff. Which he wouldn't do if he were captured... And I think he did it because he was tired of the establishment."
Former soldiers are accusing him of walking away from his unit and prompting a massive manhunt.
One they say cost the lives of at least six fellow soldiers.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER ARMY SERGEANT JOSH CORDER, SAYING:
"I think probably at best he is a deserter, at worst a traitor."
President Barack Obama has defended his position in getting Bergdahl back:
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, SAYING:
"Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity, period. Full stop. We don't condition that. And that's what every mom and dad who sees a son or daughter sent over to a war theater should expect from not just their Commander in Chief, but the United States of America."
Military officials have investigated the soldier's disappearance but have never publicly offered an explanation.
Leatherman says the full story needs to be told.
FORMER SQUAD LEADER, GREG LEATHERMAN, SAYING:
"I'm glad he's home, I'm glad he's healthy. I can't imagine what he did for 5 years, but he needs to be -- there needs to be an investigation and the truth needs to be told."
Unlike some former comrades, Bergdahl's home town in Idaho is treating him like a hero. They're planning a June 28 rally for him in a show of support.
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