Bowe Bergdahl, a former Army Sgt., has plead guilty to charges of misbehavior before the enemy and desertion and may face a life sentence.
American Military News reported that on Wednesday a former Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer James Hatch, testified in the sentencing hearing of Berghdal, and during his testimony he stated that he knew Americans would be killed or hurt in the search for the Army Sergeant when he found out the mission that he would be leading to bring the missing Sargent back.
“Everyone on that mission was aware that he walked off his post,” Hatch said during a sentencing hearing, USA TODAY reported.
When Hatch was asked why he went looking for Bergdahl, Hatch said: “He’s an American. It’s really something I never questioned.”
Six soldiers died in the search for the traitor Bergdahl in 2009. Hatch himself was shot in the leg which resulted in a career ending injury, and his military search dog was also killed.
WGNO reported that along with Chief Petty Officer Hatch, Army Capt. John Billings also testified on behalf of the prosecution. Billings, who was Bergdahl’s platoon leader in Afghanistan, said the platoon searched for Bergdahl for 19 days with virtually no food and no access to showers. He described wearing a soiled uniform for 19 days while looking for the sergeant.
“Everyone in Afghanistan was looking for Bergdahl,” said Capt. John Billings.
Hatch offered a harrowing account of an attempted rescue mission. He led a team of special operations forces based in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Their mission was to capture or kill “high value targets” or rescue hostages. When told they were to rescue a missing American, that became the team’s top priority.
The team encountered immediate fire as they grew close to one area they were told Bergdahl might be held. It was not clear whether he was there, but the area was filled with militants as well as civilians. Helicopters carrying the SEALs came under fire and tracer rounds could be seen streaming toward them. Civilians, including children, were hectically running around the area in search of cover. Hatch described carrying two young children to safety.
Hatch became extremely emotional when he talked about his service dog, Remko, who was sadly shot in the head and killed by a militant. Hatch’s injury was a gunshot in the leg just above the knee. “I was lying there trying not to scream, but screaming,” Hatch said.
Hatch, who had a noticeable limp as he approached the witness stand said he underwent 18 procedures over several years. He was accompanied by a service dog to the stand.
Billings stated that he initially thought he was the victim of a bad joke when his soldiers first told him Bergdahl was missing. His platoon sergeant informed him that it was in fact not a joke, and he then sent a message notifying his higher headquarters of a missing soldier. The next 10 days were a “big blur,” Billings said.
The sentencing was held off when Col. Jeffrey Nance, the military court judge at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, decided that he wanted more time to review the defense’s motion and had recessed the court until Wednesday.
Nance did also give Bergdahl an opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea, an opportunity that Bergdahl refused because a guilty plea meant Bergdahl would not face a trial. He had already decided to let a judge – and not a military jury – render a verdict.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump mirrored the feelings of many Military members as well as civilians when he said that Bergdahl was “a dirty rotten traitor” for leaving his post and endangering the lives of others, and that he should “face the death penalty.”
A military judge in February ruled against dropping charges against Bergdahl after Bergdahl’s lawyers argued that comments made by Trump prior to the 2016 election violated their client’s due process rights.
The accounts by those who testified against Bergdahl during the sentencing hearing will not soon be forgotten, and Bergdahl’s willingness to admit guilt leave a very bitter taste in the mouths of most Americans in light of then President Obama having traded 5 notorious terrorists for one traitor.