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Bergdahl: Hero or deserter?

By Christina Jensen
Published On: Jun 02 2014 07:31:09 PM CDT

Criticism and questions surround the initial disappearance and recent rescue of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

HAILEY, Idaho -

Criticism and questions surround the initial disappearance and recent rescue of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was held captive in Afghanistan for nearly five years. On Saturday, he was exchanged for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners. One sergeant who served with Bergdahl said he walked off base during a time of war.
One local veteran also said he shouldn't be called a hero.

Bergdahl is safe, currently being treated at a hospital in Germany. But there are still many questions surrounding Bergdahl's disappearance in 2009. Veterans like Richard Zopff call him a deserter who walked off his base.     

"If he is a deserter this is my personal opinion he should have been left over there. To me that's like abandoning your brothers. You fight for the guy that is next to you, you die for the guy that is next to you," Zopff said.

At least six U.S. soldiers were killed searching for him.

Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl's platoon at the time, told CNN:

"I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on. Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him," said Vierkant. 
 

A Pentagon spokesman cautioned against jumping to conclusions, saying U.S. officials don't yet know all the details.

"I don't think right now that we know exactly what was in his mind when he left that post, but let's not forget he was held captive as a prisoner for five years. That is a pretty high price to pay for whatever compelled him to walk off that base," said Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is taking heat for failing to notify Congress about the exchange.

"I think President Obama was in a hurry to get this done so he could get the VA out of the news. Notice how you haven't heard about what has happened at the VA since this happened," said Zopff.

The administration said Bergdahl's health was deteriorating and the U.S. acted quickly to save his life. There is no word on when Bergdahl will be back in Idaho.

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