Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, the judge who will decide Bowe Bergdahl’s fate this week, will hear from soldiers who were grievously wounded in their search for Bergdahl after he deserted his post in Afghanistan. Bergdahl could be sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty last week to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
One soldier who was shot in the head in his search for Bergdahl, cannot speak and must use a wheelchair; one cannot use his right hand.
Army National Guard Master Sgt. Mark Allen, who had already served in Iraq, chose to serve again on the front line despite the fact that he could have turned down the opportunity and could have begged off another deployment, a family friend told the AP.
National Guard Sgt. Michael Stokely said, "He told me that he was coming back to a front line unit because they were going to be deployed and he didn't want his guys to go alone.” Allen had consoled Stokely over the loss of his son in Iraq in 2005.
While searching for Bergdahl in July 2009, Allen, who is married with two children, was shot in the head; he suffered a traumatic brain injury. His wife cried in court when Bergdahl pleaded guilty.
Allen was a veteran outdoorsman; he is now confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak. "If you want to look at the best America has to offer, look at the Allen family," Robert Stokely said.
Jonathan Morita, an Army corporal, was a reservist and Iraq veteran when he joined the search for Bergdahl. A rocket-propelled grenade shattered his hand, leaving him facing multiple surgeries. He ultimately was left unable to bend the thumb or index finger on his right hand. He said, "Imagine doing things with your three fingers. I can't even change the oil on my car." He added, "Every time I hit my finger on something, there's only one image that pops in my head, and it's him.”
Morita had a blunt reply to Bergdahl’s claim that he was unaware such a large search would be executed to find him: "I manned those missions. I mean anybody who's ever watched Black Hawk Down would know that we do that."
Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer James Hatch’s leg was wounded by AK-47 fire as the search team’s helicopters came under fire in their search for Bergdahl. Yet his lawyer said of Hatch’s perspective on Bergdahl, "Senior Chief Hatch has always said he wants him to have a fair trial and a fair sentence, with the understanding of all the suffering that he caused by trying to support his own agenda. … I did not want Sgt. Bergdahl's mother to see her son executed on YouTube.”
Bergdahl recently asserted that the Taliban is more “honest” than the U.S. Army, saying, "At least the Taliban were honest enough to say, 'I'm the guy who's gonna cut your throat.'”