HOUSTON (CBS Houston/AP) — A Texas mother whose son was killed in Afghanistan reportedly looking for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is outraged over his release.
Sondra Andrews lost her son, 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews, in 2009 while he was reportedly looking for Bergdahl after he left his Army base and got captured by the Taliban. Darryn Andrews died in a blast while using his body to shield two other soldiers.
“He’s looking for a traitor. He’s looking for a deserter,” Andrews told KHOU-TV. “My son’s life was worth more than that.”
The Obama administration agreed to exchange five high-level Taliban members at Guantanamo Bay to secure the release of Bergdahl over the weekend.
Andrews didn’t agree with the decision to exchange terrorists for an accused deserter.
“I think it’s horrible. People aren’t captured without debt and that debt is our soldiers,” she told KHOU.
Andrews added that she would not have made that deal.
“My father was a POW in World War II. You don’t do that,” she told KHOU.
Bergdahl disappeared on June 30, 2009. A Pentagon investigation concluded in 2010 that the evidence was “incontrovertible” that he walked away from his unit, said a former Pentagon official who has read it.
The military investigation was broader than a criminal inquiry, this official said, and it didn’t formally accuse Bergdahl of desertion. In interviews as part of the probe, members of his unit portrayed him as a naive, “delusional” person who thought he could help the Afghan people by leaving his Army post, said the official, who was present for the interviews.
U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told The Associated Press Tuesday that the Army may still pursue desertion charges against Bergdahl.
Some of Bergdahl’s unit comrades believe that he should investigated for desertion.
Matt Vierkant, 27, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was a team leader of another squad in Bergdahl’s platoon.
Soldiers from his unit and other units were wounded or killed on missions to chase down leads related to Bergdahl, he said.
Asked about the statement Sunday by National Security Advisor Susan Rice that Bergdahl served “with honor and distinction,” he said: “That statement couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t know if she was misinformed or doesn’t know about the investigations and everything else, or what.”
He said Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers knew within five or 10 minutes from the discovery of disappearance that he had walked away. In retrospect the signs were there, he said, but there was nothing so definitive that would have prompted action.
“He said some strange things, like, ‘I could get lost in those mountains,’ which, at the time, that doesn’t really strike you as someone who is going to leave their weapon and walk out.”
Vierkant said he believes it’s paramount that an investigation determine whether Bergdahl deserted or collaborated with the enemy.
“It shouldn’t even be a question of whether, it should question of when,” he said.
During a news conference in Poland Tuesday, President Barack Obama defended his decision to exchange the detainees for Bergdahl.
“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,” Obama said. “We don’t condition that.”
A Pentagon official told CBS News that Bergdahl was “at worst, a deserter. At best, a stupid kid who caused us to expend great energy and resources to bring him home.”
Bergdahl was in stable condition Monday at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
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