November 21, 2014

Partly cloudy

Army Sgt. Bergdahl returns to U.S. after five years


Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

SAN ANTONIO — In the moments after Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl arrived in the United States following five years of captivity by the Taliban in Afghanistan, he was nervous but “looked good” and saluted a commanding officer who welcomed him home, military officials said Friday.

Bergdahl is working with health professionals to regain a sense of normalcy and move forward with his life, officials said.

Bergdahl’s family has not joined him since he arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in Texas Friday morning.

In a statement read at a news conference Friday, Bergdahl’s parents said they “are overjoyed that their son has returned to the United States,” but asked for privacy.

Maj. Gen. Joseph P. DiSalvo, who greeted Bergdahl upon his arrival from an Army medical facility in Germany, said he exchanged a few words with Bergdahl after a three-vehicle convoy met him.

“He appeared just like any sergeant would when they see a two-star general, a little bit nervous. But he looked good and saluted and had good deportment,” DiSalvo said at the news conference.

Officials said there is no timeline for the final step in Bergdahl’s re-integration process.

“We will proceed at his pace,” said Col. Bradley Poppen, an Army psychologist.

Military officials declined to give details on what Bergdahl might remember about his capture or what he knows about the public uproar surrounding his capture and release.

In the short time he has been back on U.S. soil, Bergdahl, who can walk on his own, has been on a bland diet and has shown a fondness for peanut butter, officials said.

While at Brooke Army Medical Center, Bergdahl will have a “standard patient room” but will not have access to a television, said Col. Ronald Wool, who is in charge of Bergdahl’s medical care.

“We will bring him up slowly to what has been transpiring over the last five years,” Wool said.

Bergdahl arrived speaking English, though officials indicated his speech had been impacted from being in captivity for so long.

“Overall our assessment is that he did not have the opportunity the past five years to practice and speak his English,” Wool said.

Poppen said that during his captivity, Bergdahl had no control over any aspect of his life, including what and when he could eat. “So one of the concepts is to get him a sense of predictability and control of his environment,” he said.

Army officials briefed the media at a golf course near Fort Sam Houston and said no reporters would be allowed onto the base or in the hospital. Officials have kept a lid on details of Bergdahl’s condition out of concern that he not be rushed back into the public spotlight.

The Idaho native was captured in Afghanistan in June 2009 and released by the Taliban on May 31 in a deal struck by the Obama administration in which five senior Taliban officials were released from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bergdahl had been at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany since June 1.

The Army has not formally begun a new review into the circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture and whether he walked away without leave or was deserting the Army when he was taken by insurgents.

The answers to those questions will be key to whether Bergdahl will receive more than $300,000 in back pay owed to him since he disappeared. If he was determined to have been a prisoner of war, he also could receive another $300,000 or more.

Before his departure from Germany on Thursday, officials in Washington said Bergdahl would not receive the automatic Army promotion that would have taken effect this month if he were still in captivity. Now that he is in U.S. military control, any promotions would depend on his performance and achievement of certain training and education milestones.

Many have criticized the Obama administration for agreeing to release five Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl. Some of Bergdahl’s former Army colleagues have accused him of deserting his post.

Critics also have said the five Taliban members could return to the battlefield. Administration officials have told Congress that four of the five Taliban officials likely will rejoin the fight.


  • Da_Neutral_Observer

    So Col. Ronald Wool describes Berdahl’s quarters as a “standard patient room,” but without a television. That implies other patients have cable in their rooms. What is to stop Bergdahl from catching news coverage on another patient’s TV? Or picking up a newspaper in the lobby? He’s going to get a rude awakening whether the doctors want him to or not.

  • Otter

    He could possibly get somewhere between $300,000, and $600,00, (or more) How about giving that money to the families of the 6 who were killed looking for him.
    This whole story, from the begining stinks of cover up, I wonder if we will ever know the truth behind the exchange, and his release.

    • luvmytoaster

      Doubtful… will probably be “classified information”…….

  • Starryeyes63

    And meanwhile thousands of Veterans that served honorable and/or were injured are “dying” to get into the VA………………..

  • golfingirl

    One high ranking Taliban war criminal returned for each year of captivity. Glad he wasn’t held captive for 10 years, they would have gotten 10 Taliban back for his return!

  • golfingirl

    “Administration officials have told Congress that four of the five Taliban officials likely will rejoin the fight.”

    Will Bergdahl rejoin the fight?

    If so, for whose side?

    Even the diehard Obama supporters are having problems with this one.

    • tickmeoff

      You know…If you tell a lie enough times, it becomes a fact! You have heard one side of the story. he may be guilty, he may be innocent. There’s lots of information on this. Don’t forget a news station to get viewers will say anything for the sake of ratings. The truth be damned!

      There is only one side of the story coming out at this time, this is a time to be rational, not emotional….He may be a traitor and a deserter, or a very stupid soldier. I don’t believe they court martial people for stupidity.

      It’s way too early to take a side on this, with only one side talking. And turn off Fox news, I listen to how they get the people at work upset, and I can bet you dollars to donuts that the Villain will be a Democrat. It has to be, look at who they are catering to. Just understand how we all can be manipulated. At what point do we get Bergdahl’s side of the story?

      To me, we haven’t heard the whole story, so how can we be so sure he is a deserter?

      • golfingirl

        An Army fact-finding investigation conducted in the months after Bergdahl’s disappearance concluded he left his post deliberately and of his own free will.

        Despite this conclusion, from Obama’s own administration, he went ahead and traded for 5 war criminals who have sworn death to America.

        “At what point do we get Bergdahl’s side of the story?” Probably after he “lawyers up” and has an opportunity to fabricate it.

        I will wait, not only for the case to play out, but for your apology, when these lunatics kill more women and children. You know that is going to happen, or do you really feel they have been rehabilitated?

        My guess is they have become even more bitter toward America and more committed to killing more Americans during their captivity.

        Even if Bergdahl did not desert, it was still a bad deal. Even Diane Feinstein agrees.

        • tickmeoff

          Just because i am not jumping to a conclusion doesn’t make me a bad guy or make me owe you an apology.

          i will come to my own conclusion in due time, you are entitled to listen to the talking heads today and let them make your conclusion for you. It’s easy, it doesn’t even involve you thinking, just jump on the band wagon. take the easy way out. After all Bergdahl is only one man and look at all the people that are talking against him. Who could blame you! No need for independent thought. Just tune in and believe everything you are told. As the old saying goes…..Ignorance is bliss.

          I felt as bad as everybody else when I heard about Bergdahl being a deserter. Sick to my stomach about the six service men who lost their lives, but like I said

          this story is far from over. If you feel comfortable coming to a conclusion before the whole story is out is common. Very common. Independent thinking is rare, very rare.

          • golfingirl

            Fair enough, lets wait to find out. But regardless of the outcome, it was a bad deal for the United States.

            If he did desert, it will just be “icing on the cake.”