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Saving Pvt Bergdahl: How a member of a SpecOps unit almost lost leg/life to retrieve Bowe Bergdahl
Politico ^ | June 17, 2014 | CHRISTIAN D’ANDREA

Posted on 06/18/2014 2:47:24 PM PDT by xzins

Recently I received the following email from a service member I have known for years whose career in a special-operations unit was ended when he was wounded in July 2009:

“The night I was shot, I was on a rescue mission to save Bowe Bergdahl. He is a deserter. The information I was given before I went on the mission told me as much. He willingly walked off his base.

More than a few service-members risked their lives trying to find/rescue him.”

C. was an assault-team member in a direct-action unit when it was tasked with a mission to recover Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl days after he walked off his base in Afghanistan in 2009. He has not spoken about it before because he comes from a community that values codes of silence.

But as he listened to the claims and counterclaims that greeted Bergdahl’s release, which have prompted a Pentagon investigation, C. told me he felt compelled to speak out about what he experienced that night in 2009.

He came to me to tell his story because we’ve known each other for more than a decade, having met on location while I was making a documentary. C., who has spent his career performing high-risk duties for his country, said he didn’t want his story to be “partisan.”

He wants people to hear at least one piece of the truth about the costs of Bowe Bergdahl’s actions, from someone who was there.

***

The night Bergdahl disappeared, C. and some of his crew were at the Special Operations op-center on a base in Afghanistan. C. was handed a sheet with details on Bergdahl. As C. remembers it, the paper was pretty clear: “that he had gone AWOL.” There was still some confusion surrounding the events, but “Bergdahl’s buddies were saying pretty decisively that he had walked off the base and deserted his post,” says C. “We were informed that he’d gone into town, where he was asking people if they spoke English, and he’d gotten himself captured by Taliban.”

Having read the report, C. remembers turning to a member of his crew and saying, “This kid is going to get people hurt or killed trying to get him back.”

A few days later, C. and his team convened in a small shack at their base. They had been told by their leaders there was now a good indication of where Bergdahl was. And C.’s unit was being tasked with a rescue mission to get him.

On the night of the Bergdahl rescue mission, “I was angry,” C. recalls, “because I knew he had walked off his base, and the conditions we were going out in to get him were not in our favor. When we operate, it’s always an away game. We’re going to their neighborhood. We like to have certain atmospheric conditions that are helpful. Without getting into tactics, let me just say that the atmospheric conditions that night were not what we would typically choose to use. So as we’re heading out in the helicopters, I’m angry because our target’s a deserter and all of us—my buddies and the helo crews—are putting our lives at risk because this kid did something stupid.”

The objective was to retrieve Bergdahl “before he was taken to a part of the territories where we were not allowed to go,” says C. “We knew he was likely at a staging point, from which folks would courier him over the border and take him somewhere we couldn’t get him.” That staging point was where C.’s unit was headed, and they knew it would be an exceedingly hostile place. In short, C. says, he and his guys were heading into “a bad neighborhood.”

As the helicopters approached the location, C. remembers being “pissed at that kid, who was putting everyone at risk, but I also didn’t want his mom to see the YouTube video that Daniel Pearl’s mom had to see.” That gave C. clarity. “I knew that Bergdahl had done something foolish, but I also knew it was better to get ahold of him, rather than have the other side torture and decapitate him.”

***

They found themselves in a very bad neighborhood indeed.

“I knew the enemy fighters were serious players when I heard the machine guns over the sounds of the helicopters as we landed,” says C.

C. won’t disclose any classified details of that night raid for Bergdahl. But he does paint the broader picture. “We had to find that kid. We were hauling ass. There were people running everywhere, a lot of different pockets of gunfights. It was extremely dynamic. Tracer bullets that looked like flaming beer cans whizzed by as we rushed toward the enemy.” The unit honed in on the scattered and entrenched cells of fighters. “They were heavy hitters—the varsity team,” C. says. “Guys who were sent to get that kid back across the border.”

“It was a mean fight,” he says, the kind of gun battle “where everybody gets a vote.” Ten minutes into it, C. and his comrades identified a ditch where several enemy combatants were hiding. As they ran toward it, the enemy began firing. “I fired back,” C. says, “and the person I was firing at had a buddy who started spraying his AK-47 on full auto.”

And then, just like that, something C. had relied on his whole life—his right leg—wasn’t there. “I was all of a sudden in the air. The force of the AK round hitting my leg twisted me up in the air, and, combined with my forward momentum, it flipped me. In the air, I was saying to myself ‘don’t scream,’ and I sure as hell landed and started screaming. I hate that, to this day.”

The shot was a lucky hit for the enemy. It shattered C.’s femur, severed nerves and cut veins. One piece of luck for C. was that the round, as it mushroomed and tore through his leg, didn’t sever his femoral artery. Still, it was bleeding heavily. “I couldn’t put a tourniquet on myself because every time I tried to apply it, it moved my leg and the femur would twist, and I’d scream,” he remembers. “So I traded the tourniquet for not screaming. I lay there and sobbed until two of my guys came over. These are guys, by the way, who had to finish the immediate gunfight they were in, and then cover open ground, in a firefight, to get to me. Epic.” One of the guys took a tourniquet off his equipment and put it on C. Every twist of the tourniquet further mashed his femur, and drove its broken shards into other nooks of his flesh and nerves. He was writhing. He quickly started bleeding through his bandages. So the guys called in the helos and started moving C. to the LZ for extraction.

The same helicopter crew that had dropped them off now returned, flying back into a hot LZ.

His two comrades carried him to the helo and deposited him. C. thinks there may have been medics among the helo crew, but there was no time for medical treatment since the entire air crew—“every one of them”—had to man their heavy guns as they landed and flew back out in the midst of the gunfight. One of the operators who had saved C. and another team member joined him on the helo. They made sure he had a morphine lollipop (something C. had been requesting vigorously), and they flew with him to the field hospital. “Once they knew I was OK, they got back into the helos and flew back into the fight. It was a long night for them.”

He points out that his two comrades were the beginning of a long line of hyper-competent and brave men and women that saved his life and eventually his leg, too. It’s a line that stretched from the people who rescued him in the shooting fields of Afghanistan to the exceptional hospital staffs back here in the United States. “A chain of heroes,” he calls them.

And he feels it’s a chain of heroes whose deeds are “cheapened” and whose honor is degraded by the political theater surrounding the Bergdahl swap.

“I don’t hate Bergdahl,” says C. “But he needs to be held accountable for his bad decision to leave his crew during war. When people say Bergdahl served his country with honor, that’s an incorrect summary of his service. There are families whose loved ones went deep into harm’s way because of Bergdahl’s choice.”


TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bergdahl; desertion; jeopardy

1 posted on 06/18/2014 2:47:24 PM PDT by xzins
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To: Jet Jaguar; SkyPilot; jazusamo; All
This is a must read:

The shot was a lucky hit for the enemy. It shattered C.’s femur, severed nerves and cut veins. One piece of luck for C. was that the round, as it mushroomed and tore through his leg, didn’t sever his femoral artery. Still, it was bleeding heavily. “I couldn’t put a tourniquet on myself because every time I tried to apply it, it moved my leg and the femur would twist, and I’d scream,” he remembers. “So I traded the tourniquet for not screaming. I lay there and sobbed until two of my guys came over. These are guys, by the way, who had to finish the immediate gunfight they were in, and then cover open ground, in a firefight, to get to me. Epic.” One of the guys took a tourniquet off his equipment and put it on C. Every twist of the tourniquet further mashed his femur, and drove its broken shards into other nooks of his flesh and nerves. He was writhing. He quickly started bleeding through his bandages. So the guys called in the helos and started moving C. to the LZ for extraction.

2 posted on 06/18/2014 2:48:21 PM PDT by xzins ( Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Those who truly support our troops pray for victory!)
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To: xzins

No mention of any related casualties in this Politico article — none that I noticed skimming the article.


3 posted on 06/18/2014 2:50:43 PM PDT by Gene Eric (Don't be a statist!)
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To: Gene Eric

You are correct. It was just about this one soldier’s experience. It is a great story. I highly recommend reading it.


4 posted on 06/18/2014 2:53:02 PM PDT by xzins ( Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Those who truly support our troops pray for victory!)
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To: xzins

Read it in its entirety. Excellent.

Maybe Rolling Stone and its subscribing clowns will give this article an objective read.


5 posted on 06/18/2014 3:00:46 PM PDT by Gene Eric (Don't be a statist!)
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To: xzins
“I don’t hate Bergdahl,” says C. “But he needs to be held accountable for his bad decision to leave his crew during war.

"C" couldn't have said it any better, he and his team are to be commended for their actions.

This is a man that the clueless SECDEF Hagel should definitely talk to and thank him for his service.

6 posted on 06/18/2014 3:02:38 PM PDT by jazusamo (Sometimes I think that this is an era when sanity has become controversial: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo; Gene Eric

Now “C” is “honor and distinction”

What’s that make Bergdahl?


7 posted on 06/18/2014 3:07:08 PM PDT by xzins ( Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Those who truly support our troops pray for victory!)
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To: jazusamo; Gene Eric
Did you see the pic of C's leg...it says "in between surgeries to save it".


8 posted on 06/18/2014 3:08:59 PM PDT by xzins ( Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Those who truly support our troops pray for victory!)
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To: xzins

Fk Bunghole.

I ever meet him I will turn my back to him.


9 posted on 06/18/2014 3:10:58 PM PDT by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously-you won't live through it anyway-Enjoy Yourself ala Louis Prima)
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To: xzins

He’ll come out as gay and everything will be fine.

Target and General Mills will sponsor the cancelled hometown parade.

He’ll jump Ellen’s couch and be on Dancing with the Stars.

After that he’ll run for US Senator for Massachusetts and win after tossing his medals over the White House fence.

Keith Ellison will swear him in on a koran.


10 posted on 06/18/2014 3:12:23 PM PDT by TurboZamboni (Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.-JFK)
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To: xzins; jazusamo

We’ve seen the prosecution (persecution) of many honorable soldiers over recent years. Not ONE that I know of was ever accused of being a deserter.


11 posted on 06/18/2014 3:13:28 PM PDT by Gene Eric (Don't be a statist!)
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To: xzins

Nasty paper cut...

Looks like that hurt like hell.

Hope he walks well now and tough as ever.

God Bless him and all who willingly put themselves in harms way for a guy, who seems like a boil in need of a severe lancing.


12 posted on 06/18/2014 3:13:49 PM PDT by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously-you won't live through it anyway-Enjoy Yourself ala Louis Prima)
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To: xzins; Gene Eric

Looks to me like C’s treatment from the battlefield to hospital was outstanding to have saved his leg.


13 posted on 06/18/2014 3:17:51 PM PDT by jazusamo (Sometimes I think that this is an era when sanity has become controversial: Thomas Sowell)
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To: Gene Eric; xzins
Not ONE that I know of was ever accused of being a deserter.

Amen to that!

14 posted on 06/18/2014 3:19:38 PM PDT by jazusamo (Sometimes I think that this is an era when sanity has become controversial: Thomas Sowell)
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To: xzins

I hope bergdahl faces a trial.....this admin is just the worst..


15 posted on 06/18/2014 3:22:33 PM PDT by TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig (I am the Tea Party bully who took Mitch McConnell's milk money.)
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To: jazusamo

There’s no real reason that the VA should be 2nd class treatment. The active duty docs are really solid.


16 posted on 06/18/2014 3:29:44 PM PDT by xzins ( Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Those who truly support our troops pray for victory!)
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To: xzins

Never happened, Hagel said so. And he should know, 0bama made him SecDef. No one got killed looking for the des.. Bergdahl.


17 posted on 06/18/2014 3:29:54 PM PDT by xone
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To: xzins

Too bad Bergdahl didn’t end up collateral damage.


18 posted on 06/18/2014 6:01:46 PM PDT by VerySadAmerican
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To: xzins; blueyon; KitJ; T Minus Four; CMS; The Sailor; ab01; txradioguy; Jet Jaguar; Defender2; ...

Active Duty/Bergdahl ping.


19 posted on 06/18/2014 7:42:54 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar (Resist in place.)
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To: xzins

Thanks for the ping, xzins. Puts the cost of Bergdahl’s desertion in perspective. I read a 2-star General was to review Bergdahl’s situation AND the army was to review the circumstances around the six who died during searches for him.


20 posted on 06/18/2014 9:15:45 PM PDT by Girlene (Hey NSA!)
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