Deserter Bergdahl Dodges Prison Time, Receives Dishonorable Discharge

(courtesy of the Associated Press)

Many of us veterans don’t like speaking ill of others who served. While we all know that there were people who were grade “A” screw-ups that we served with (or were), we tend not to bash them. However, there are always exceptions.


A prime exception is Bowe Bergdahl, who recently plead guilty to desertion. Now he’s been sentenced, and…well, you’ll see.

Bowe Bergdahl received a dishonorable discharge from the US Army but will avoid prison time for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after abandoning his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009, a military judge ruled Friday.

The judge also ruled that Bergdahl’s rank be reduced from sergeant to private. Additionally, he will be required to pay a $1,000 fine from his salary for the next 10 months.

“Sgt. Bergdahl has looked forward to today for a long time,” Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s civilian attorney, said at a news conference after the sentence was announced.

“As everyone knows he was a captive of the Taliban for nearly five years, and three more years have elapsed while the legal process unfolded. He has lost nearly a decade of his life.”

The sentence is effective immediately, except for the dishonorable discharge, which Bergdahl is appealing, according to Fidell.


It’s important to note that Bowe Bergdahl willfully walked away from his post. His status as a “captive of the Taliban for nearly five years” is completely and totally because of his desertion. If his attorney thinks he’s deserving of any sympathy for his ordeal, he can forget it.


It’s worth remembering that Bergdahl was traded for five high-value prisoners by the Obama administration. In other words, five terrorists were returned to circulation so we could get a deserter back. To make matters worse, we got to hear from the White House about what a hero Bergdahl was and all that.

The fact that Bergdahl is walking away without prison time, is probably even worse.

Folks, desertion is a serious thing. I remember the guy from my company in boot camp who jumped the fence and was picked up at the train station. He was gone for mere hours and got only a slightly less serious sentence than Bergdahl. He was administratively separated rather than dishonorably discharged.

And this wasn’t during a war, and most certainly not in a war zone.

Bergdahl did, and he’s basically walking.

Oh, I know, a dishonorable discharge isn’t exactly nothing. He’s essentially deemed a felon for all practical purposes, which will negatively impact job prospects and civil liberties, but it still feels…insufficient.

You see, Bergdahl’s desertion was bad enough. However, his decision also impacted American service members who were killed and wounded while searching for him. He put lives at risk. He cost lives. His decisions directly impacted the United States Army’s ability to wage war, if only for a short time.


And he’s not going to spend a single day in prison for it.

If that wasn’t enough, though, the audacity of this man and his attorney to have the nerve to appeal his discharge? Seriously? He’s fortunate not to be rotting and beautiful and scenic Fort Levinworth, and he’s going to appeal his dishonorable discharge?

I’ll give Bergdahl this, I don’t think his desertion had anything to do with cowardice. After all, it takes some massive cajones to try this on.

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