If you don’t know who Bowe Bergdahl is, then let me catch you up to speed. Sometime in 2009, Army Soldier Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his unit in Afghanistan and decided to go play with the Taliban. Apparently, Mr. Bergdahl was questioning the meaning of life, war, and the ethics of the US military and he thought the only reasonable place to do this was with woman beaters and child rapist. While some reports are conflicting, it appears that during these 5 years he was a welcome guest at times and caged prisoner at others. He was then rescued during a prisoner exchanger where we released 5 terrorist from Guantanamo Bay. So now, there seems to be some debate as to whether or not he should be charged with Desertion for abandoning his unit in the middle of a War. Well, I am here to settle this debate by offering my Top 4 Reasons he should be labeled a deserter.
1. He Got his Fellow Soldiers Killed – Look, war is messy. It can be a chaotic environment and many unintended events can take place. I was actually on the receiving end of some friendly fire one night in Al Kut Iraq back in 2003 and I harbor no hard feelings about that. I simply blame our incompetent Company leadership that sent a bunch of Marines to a firefight in the middle of the night without any communications gear. Consequently, now it just makes for a fun story.
However, for all the legitimate reasons you might accidentally get your fellow warriors killed in combat be it from friendly fire or poor tactical decisions, there is an unwritten rule. That rule is that you don’t get someone killed because of your cowardice. Or in this case, this man’s spirit journey. You see, when he disappeared, it wasn’t clear what had happened to him and the US Military was trying to find him. Men died during this search that never should have taken place. Families are without their loved ones right now because of his selfish actions.
2. It’s Like, Against the Rules and Stuff – You just can’t do that man. I know I just said it was an unwritten rule, but actually it is a pretty written down thing. In fact, it is so official that people have been shot for it in the past. Look, the military is full of rules both absurd and reasonable. If I can get yelled at by a Marine Gunny for putting my dad gone hands in my dad gone freaking pockets, then I feel like you should be in trouble for deserting your unit in the middle of a war zone. Does that seem reasonable to you?
This one is for all of us. If you have ever gotten in trouble for some strange absurd reason in the Military, then you should be with me on this one. Desertion is a big deal and he did it without question. What point is it to have such a rule if it will simply be glossed over. Look, I understand he probably suffered heavily at the hands of the Taliban. Consequently, we should allow him to heal and treat him humanely. Then, after he has put on a few pounds, rightfully charge him with the crime he committed.
3. It Honors Those Who Stood and Fought – Any excuse Bergdahl offers as to why he abandoned his post become invalid when you consider those who stood, fought, and died. Look, he wasn’t the only one to have philosophical questions about life, death, and war. A great deal of war is actually just sitting around. Consequently, you have a lot of time on your hands to think about these things. I personally served in Iraq in 2003 with Marines who thought the Iraq war was stupid. However, I never for one second doubted that they would stand by my side in a fire fight.
There are warriors who stood their post and returned fire amongst some of the most harrowing of circumstances. Some of these heroes died having never seen their newborn children or having young children that will now grow up without a father. Many of these men may very well have had the same questions about life as Bowe Bergdahl. This difference is that they honored their commitment to their country and the Marines or Soldiers to their left and right. Desertion is a slap in the face to those who gave it all.
4. My Own Personal Testimony – You see, I too took a little personal road trip in Iraq, but I was trying to get back in the fight. From birth, I have a little area of messed up intestines apparently that has given me trouble from time to time. Well, late one night in Al Kut, I started suffering shooting and severe pains for which the Docs believed I had appendicitis. Well crap, that’s a sucky way to end a war. So in the middle of the night, they medevac me out on a Blackhawk helicopter and fly me to this MASH style air force hospital in Nasiriyah.
Long story short, it wasn’t appendicitis and after a couple of days I was better. Now keep in mind, this was 2003 Iraq just shortly after Baghdad fell. In Al Kut, we are sleeping on the concrete in the middle of city and luxuries were just non-existent. However, here in this Air Force MASH hospital, I am on a bed, with Air Conditioning, and hot chow. Now, being the good Marine I am, I know how to skate with the best of them. However, after about 5 days total, no one had heard from my unit and I had this nagging fear that I was about to get put on a plane back home. May it never be!
So I ran across a Staff Sergeant from a Marine Engineer Battalion heading north. I think his last name was Garcia, but believe it or not, Garcia does actually nothing to narrow that down in the Marine Corps. However, he had a convoy of two Humvees and offered to take me north. So I told the Air Force people I was leaving with him and they said Cool. So this took me from Nasiriyah to a town further north called Diwaniyah where some college campus was being used as a staging area for various units, mostly POGs. I then went around to various units until I found some Bulk Fuel Marines heading to Al Kut that night. Thanks to a pretty cool First Sergeant over that unit, he let me jump in with them and thus, I traveled with the fuel Marines and showed up at Al Kut that next morning. Upon arriving, my unit told me they thought I was in Germany getting my appendix out. I said, no, I was in Nasiriyah. They said, cool, here is your weapon back and that was that. Many Marines from my unit read this blog and they can testify to this story.
So I tell that long story really to just say, you blew it Bowe. You see, my life would not have been the same if I had taken my ticket out of Iraq while my fellow Marines were fighting it out. If I did, I could have never forgiven myself. Bowe hitchhiked away from the fight, whereas myself and believe it or not others tried to find ways back into the fight. I don’t know if he had hoped everyone would feel sad for him like we always did at the end of each episode of the Incredible Hulk when Bruce Banner walked away to the sad music just wanting to be loved. Because let me be clear, we don’t. But here is a little clip for those that need a reminder.
However, it is really for all the reasons above that he should legitimately be charged with desertion. I am not asking for him to be shot and I don’t even personally care what punishment he is given. Moreover, I am not even opposed to the prisoner exchange that got him released. Rather, I am just asking for the President and the Military to honor everyone who stayed in the fight and most importantly those who died doing so. It is simply the right thing to do. Who’s with me on this?
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