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An Iraq Marine's Thoughts on PFC Berghdal
I have no doubt that you have seen ad nauseam the reports about the returning Army Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl from Afghanistan. He is the Soldier, who has been the only prisoner of war (POW) in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.There has been a backlash against President Obama for trading five terrorists for PFC Berghdals release.
I am a United States Marine, who served in Iraq in 2004. I was the first of five females ever to be attached to an infantry unit during a time of war. Even though I was not a grunt, I had a very active deployment as a combat driver. The Marines I drove all over Iraq were quite an interesting bunch. I transported the EOD unit, or explosive ordinance disposal, which is the bomb squad. I drove them to different ordinance sites, and usually stayed right beside them while they detonated the explosives in a controlled fashion. I saw them decide which wire to cut. Believe me, I understand being scared shitless. That is the only reason I think I am in a position to speak about my opinions on this Army PFC.
The Pentagon believes (as does every single Soldier in his unit) that PFC Bergdahl had preemptively deserted his unit in Afghanistan. The other Soldiers in his unit stated that Bergdahl asked a few days before his capture how far India or China was from Afghanistan, and if he could get there by foot. He also asked what it would be like to get lost in the Afghanistan mountains.That is totally insane. He did not bring his rifle, food, clothes, or anything else that could sustain him for more than a few hours outside the wire.
Even though the information so far is pretty damning against PFC Berghdal, unless you have been to war, you have no possible way of knowing how horrible war truly is. It's not just what you are forced to see; it is what we have to do. Remember, everyone who aims a weapon at a Marine or Soldier is not a male adult; sometimes, they are women and children. Also, many of us have seen our best friends die right in front us. I believe that the Pentagon should do an investigation on his mental health when he deserted. Did he see his best friend turn into pink mist right in front of his eyes? Did he have to kill a woman or child on a patrol? There are a lot of questions that need answers.
If PFC Berghadal did desert his unit, and it was not because of psychological trauma, because he just wanted to run away, I honestly don't know what should happen to him. I don't think he should be punished further for deserting. I do know Marines who deserted our unit (but it was before we deployed), and all they got was 30 days in the brig. Berghdal was a POW for 5-years. On the other hand, these Marine's actions did not cause other Soldiers or Marines to die.
The only question I have is how the hell did he leave the base? There are watchtowers every 500 yards, a sharp razor wire fence, and a heavily armed checkpoints to leave the base. Where was his partner? I honestly don't think I could have left the wire in Iraq even if I wanted to. There were eyes (and guns) everywhere.
Wait to judge before we get all the facts. Imagine if you had a brother who went crazy and deserted his unit. True, that kind of behavior is unacceptable and should be punished, but would you not also have compassion? He did not know if today was the day that he was going to be executed by beheading. He was kept in a shark cage in the dark for weeks at a time. For half a decade, he was treated no better than a dog. [FC Berghdal will live with the deep scars that this experience instilled upon him.
Keep in mind, the PFC, who leaked thousand of documents to WikiLeais received only 30-years prison time, and he/she will get out of prison in in 10-years for good behavior. That guy (girl?) has a comfy cell, get three meals a day. and will even receive tax-payer funded estrogen hormones injections to become a woman. No one is asking he get a Medal of Honor, but maybe condemnation is a bit premature.