Today is BOWE TUESDAY 173. SGT Bowe Bergdahl has been held captive by enemies of America for 3 years, 3 months and 2 days; 173 weeks.
One can only imagine what life is like for Bowe. Another winter has begun and surely he wonders if he will ever make it back home. And he certainly must wonder if he’s been forgotten and prays that he hasn’t. When we try to imagine ourselves in Bowe’s situation, we realize that it is impossible to understand the depths of Bowe’s fear and desperation.
The following poem is by Robert Densmore. Robert served in Afghanistan. As you read it, consider how it could help one to understand more clearly Bowe’s experiences as an American soldier in Afghanistan.
City sand has its own taste
Not the country’s dust,
It’s stronger – bitter parts
Under infantry foot.
Under 500 years going and coming.
Kipling’s finest up and over –
Through the pass,
Through the places where soldiers stood
In stolid white snow.
Cemeteries in the pass where Alexander’s own
Fell on the square rocks.
Paved with smoothed over river rock,
This open grave – white, bare.
Kabul sand polishes everyone’s edges.
Tajiks sharp on the cusp
And Northern Alliance coming down
Hard in the fray.
They all want each other’s throats.
Their wives lost in the fight –
Save for pointed heels and
Gold bangled over fine red henna.
Eastern sand and southern sand,
Pakistan sand crooked as broken teeth,
Herati sand pure and rising to the top.
Nothing mixes and there is no space in between.
If God loved this place he doesn’t now.
If He breathed in the brass bullet casings
And the diesel air and spiteful prayers.
A place for lust and dirty children
And the things night can hide.
What things grown men can hide-
In the dark corners of their own children’s rooms.
In the big shadows of a capital with no master and no disciple.
No scope for all things to come together
The sand and the dust and the dirt that makes things grow-
When it is left alone.
But we’ve put our fingers in it
And the stirring and stamping won’t leave
Much for the growing.
Dust bowls and cyclone air will take the rest.
Every village is filled with it now –
Dust from our bombs and inside our APCs.
Dirt scrubbed from our rifle actions
And ground into our sweaty palms like Mississippi silt.
And still nothing grows.
I’ve taken a knee in seventeen villages –
On street corners and broken down roundabouts,
On highways and in shattered homes.
On helo pads and plywood chapel steps,
On the backs of dead men-
And screaming vile women.
They will, all of them, bend or break –
It is either them or me.
It’s either winning or losing
And putting in its place
What does not belong,
Sand of a different taste and hue
That cannot tell me it is sorry.
~ Robert Densmore, 2009
Bowe Supporter Tommy Straight has started an online petition for SGT Bowe Bergdahl. The petition is designed to meet two goals. First, to raise awareness about Sergeant Bergdahl’s plight. Second, and most important, to send the message to Washington D.C. that many Americans believe that it’s well past time to bring Sergeant Bergdahl home. The petition is titled “President Obama: find and free SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL P.O.W. SINCE JUNE 30 2009 AFGHANISTAN”. (Of course, the petition’s title might need to be altered slightly in November depending on the outcome of the national elections.)
The short-term goal for the petition is to get as many signatures as possible by September 21, 2012, which is National POW*MIA recognition day. The long-term goal is to reach at least 100,000 signatures.
You will find links to the petition, as well as a downloadable flyer and a brief tutorial on what to do when signing the petition, by following HERE. There is also a Facebook page called “SGT Bowe Bergdahl’s Online Petition at change.org” that you can join to keep posted on the progress of the petition.
Please show your support for Sergeant Bergdahl by signing this petition and sharing it with others. Please use it as an opportunity to speak out for him as he cannot speak for himself.
The June 21, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone offers an article by written by Michael Hastings, whose “Runaway General” profile in 2010 led to the dismissal of U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is the most revealing to date about the circumstances before and after Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was taken captive by members of the Haqqani network. “America’s Last Prisoner of War“ includes details of the undisciplined state of the U.S. Army unit that Sergent Bergdahl assigned to, the political maneuvering occurring in Washington D.C. and how it is impacting his possible release, and excerpts of the last email that he sent to his parents before he was captured.
From the article:
The discipline problems that had plagued Bowe’s unit back home only got worse when immersed in the fog of war. From the start, everything seemed to go wrong. In April, Lt. Fancey was removed from his post for clashing with a superior officer. He was replaced by Sgt. 1st Class Larry Hein, who had never held such a command – a move that left the remote outpost with no officers. According to four soldiers in the battalion, the removal of Fancey was quickly followed by a collapse in unit morale and an almost complete breakdown of authority.
The unruly situation was captured by Sean Smith, a British documentary filmmaker with The Guardian who spent a month embedded with Bowe’s unit. His footage shows a bunch of soldiers who no longer give a shit: breaking even the most basic rules of combat, like wearing baseball caps on patrol instead of helmets. In footage from a raid on a family compound, an old Afghan woman screams at the unit, “Look at these cruel people!” One soldier bitches about what he sees as the cowardice of the Afghan villagers he is supposed to be protecting: “They say like, the Taliban comes down and aggravated their town and harasses them… Why don’t you kill those motherfuckers? All of you have AKs. If someone is going into my hometown, I know my town wouldn’t stand for that shit. I’d be like, ‘Fuck you, you’re dead.'” Another soldier laments, “These people just want to be left alone.” A third agrees: “They got dicked with by the Russians for 17 years, and now we’re here.”
During the middle of May, Bowe went out on one of his first major missions. He described it in a detailed e-mail to his family dated May 23rd, 2009. What started as an eight-hour mission, Bowe recounted, ended up taking five days.
While another unit was setting up a night ambush in the mountains, an MRAP – the $1.5 million armored vehicle designed to protect soldiers from the roadside bombs being used by the Taliban – got hit with an IED. Bowe’s platoon was deployed to escort a tow truck to get it down off the mountain. But on the way to escort the truck, an MRAP in Bowe’s own platoon was hit by an IED. The unit found itself stuck in the mountains for four days, guarding the wreckage while their commanders debated whether to fly in the parts needed to fix the vehicles. Some of the time, Bowe wrote his family, was spent near a village that “was not too friendly to Americans” because it had been attacked by the Taliban. “So the elders were telling us to leave,” he reported, “because the taliban was there, and we couldn’t leave because command finely decided that they would fly in the parts (one MRAP needing a new engine) and would rebuild the MRAPs up there.”
Once the MRAPs were finally fixed, the unit started to leave the mountains, only to be hit by yet another IED – the third of the mission – and to come under a blistering attack from rocket-propelled grenades. “It was at the point that the guys where beginning to climb into the trucks that the first RPG hit about 30m away from them,” Bowe recounted, “and then the RPKs and the AKs began to splatter bullets on us, and all around us, the gunners where only able to see a few of them, and so where firing blindly the rest of the time, up into the trees and rocks. The .50 went down on the first shot on the truck i was in, and i had to hand up my SAW for the gunner to use. I sat there and watched, there was nothing else I was allowed to do.”
No soldiers were killed in the ambush, but Bowe blamed the screw-up on his superiors: “Because command where too stupid to make up there minds of what to do,” he wrote, “we where left to sit out in the middle of no where with no sopport to come till late mourning the next day.” He concluded his e-mail with a nod to the absurdity of the situation: “The end of the 8 hour mission that took five days, and so here i am. But Afghanistan mountains are really beautiful!”
It wasn’t long, though, before his parents began to grow frustrated by how the government was treating them in the midst of the ordeal. The Army, they felt, was subtly pressuring them not to speak to the press, and they were required to sign a nondisclosure agreement with the National Security Agency in order to view classified and top-secret material. In addition, Bob believes the military began monitoring their phones in case the kidnappers called – standard procedure in a hostage situation, but one that also enabled the U.S. military to keep tabs on the family.
Things soon got worse. Ralph Peters, an action-thriller writer who serves as a “strategic analyst” for Fox News, took to the air to condemn Bowe as an “apparent deserter.” The Taliban, he declared, could save the United States on “legal bills” by executing him. Horrified by such comments, Bob and Jani told their military liaison that they didn’t want the Army to mount an operation to rescue Bowe, fearful that he’d be killed – either by accident, or even on purpose, by an aggrieved soldier or the U.S. military itself. There have certainly been soldiers who have joined the drumbeat of hatred against Bowe: A recent Facebook post from one soldier in his unit called for his execution. Worried that any further public attention might put Bowe at greater risk, his parents decided to remain silent, releasing a statement to their local newspaper asking the press to respect their privacy.
In what appears to be an unprecedented move, the Pentagon also scrambled to shut down any public discussion of Bowe. Members of Bowe’s brigade were required to sign nondisclosure agreements as part of their paperwork to leave Afghanistan. The agreement, according to Capt. Fancey, forbids them to discuss any “personnel recovery” efforts – an obvious reference to Bowe. According to administration sources, both the Pentagon and the White House also pressured major news outlets like The New York Times and the AP to steer clear of mentioning Bowe’s name to avoid putting him at further risk. (The White House was afraid hard-line elements could execute him to scuttle peace talks, officials involved in the press negotiations say.) Faced with the wall of official silence, Bob and Jani began to worry that the Pentagon wasn’t doing all that it could to get their son back. As Bowe’s sister, Sky, wrote in a private e-mail: “I am afraid our government here in D.C. would like nothing better but to sweep PFC Bergdahl under the rug and wash their hands.
Read the FULL ARTICLE at Rolling Stone online.
EARLIER ARTICLES AND VIDEOS
These articles and videos have been published over the last thirty days beginning with the video that broke three years of near silence by the Bergdahl family regarding Bowe’s capture and captivity.
VIDEO from the Daily:
ARTICLE “Idahoan’s Unlikely Journey to Life as a Taliban Prisoner” from The New York Times:
Last week his anguished family broke a yearlong silence and announced that their son had become the centerpiece in secret but stalled negotiations between the Obama administration and the Taliban over a proposed prisoner exchange. The deal, which would trade five Taliban prisoners held in Guantánamo Bay for Sergeant Bergdahl, is considered a crucial first step toward striking a broader political settlement with the Taliban to bring the decade-long war to an end.
Sergeant Bergdahl’s father, Robert Bergdahl, who said he went public to try to push the Obama administration to revive the talks, has in the meantime reached out to the insurgents. He is now in regular e-mail contact with a man he believes is a member of the Taliban with accurate knowledge of his son.
Read the FULL ARTICLE at The New York Times.
ARTICLE “Waiting for Bowe: America’s Last Captured Soldier” from TIME magazine:
Robert and Jani Bergdahl, parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, in Hailey, Idaho, May 12, 2012. Bowe Bergdahl is America’s only known current prisoner of war.
Nearly three years ago, Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, a machine gunner with the 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, disappeared from his outpost in eastern Afghanistan. A short time later, the military learned that Bowe had been captured by the Taliban.
For every parent who sends their son or daughter to war, the ultimate nightmare is seeing a uniformed officer walking up to the house to tell you your child is dead. For Bob and Jani Bergdahl, the nightmare has no end, as their son has been held by the Taliban for nearly three years.
Late last week, I had the honor of meeting with Bob.
Since his son’s capture, he’s become a student of the history, politics and religion that permeates Afghanistan and Pakistan. He taught himself Urdu and Pashto so he could read from news reports and chat rooms in the area, and so if it ever came to it, so he could talk with his son’s captors. Nearly two years after Bow’s capture, Bob made a video he posted on Youtube where he appealed directly to the Pakistani military for Bowe’s release.
Read the FULL ARTICLE at TIME online.
ARTICLE & SLIDESHOW” America’s Last Living POW: Christopher Morris Photographs a Family in Waiting” TIME magazine:
After their son was captured, the Bergdahls kept their silence. Intensely private, devout Presbyterians, they chose to work behind the scenes to try and bring their son home. But a week ago, an interview Bob had given was published in a local newspaper. It said that he was frustrated with the government for not doing enough to bring Bowe home. Bob decided to break his silence. “We do not want the American people to think we are dissatisfied with the way our government has proceeded,” Bob says. “The problem is this is extremely complex. It involves several different parties—state actors and non-state actors. This is going to be difficult to reconcile, which is why we believe diplomacy for the hostages—and Bowe’s not the only one, there are other hostages—negotiations, diplomacy are the window of opportunity here.
Read the FULL ARTICLE at TIME online.
VIDEO “Bowe Robert Bergdahl: The Last Prisoner of War” TIME magazine online. FOLLOW TO VIEW
FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN MAKE A SIGN LIKE THE ONE BELOW TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT BOWE FOR ABOUT $10.
Just follow HERE for the details.
Follow HERE to download an informational brochure you can share.
Follow HERE to find out more about using business cards as an economical way to raise awareness about Bowe.
May 13, 2012, a day we honor Mothers. We, all of us Bowe Supporters, send thoughts of caring and love to one very special Blue Star Mother, Jani Bergdahl.
Jani, we wish that we could give you the Mother’s Day gift you want more than anything, your son safe in your arms. If anything is true this is: we, all of us across America, will do everything in our power to assure that this is the last year you will spend Mother’s Day without your son. May God Bless you and your family every day and with that special day when Bowe returns home.
A son is a son
wherever he roams
no matter how far
or the years that have flown.
He may test the darkness
to challenge the unknown,
yet he’ll never be less
than your beloved son.
He may take your soul with him
from sea to sea;
but the child of your heart
he will ever be.
Doesn’t matter the distance
or trials he may know,
he is always ‘your son’
wherever he goes.
In a rare interview just published by the Idaho Mountain Express, the Bergdahl family sent a message out to all who are working to support Bowe. Out of concerns for their son’s safety, and on advice of the military and United States government, the Bergdahls have spoken little publicly about their son during his nearly three years of captivity.
From the article By GREGORY FOLEY, Express Staff Writer:
Nearly three years after finding out their son Bowe was taken hostage by enemy forces while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, Hailey-area residents Bob and Jani Bergdahl are breaking a long silence, hopeful that renewed awareness about Bowe’s plight will lead to his release and return home to Idaho.
In an interview with the Idaho Mountain Express, the Bergdahls said they believe Bowe is alive and could be brought home through aggressive negotiations or, possibly, a prisoner exchange. They said they are now vocally supporting grassroots efforts to bring their son’s case into the spotlight, in part because of mounting frustration over the inability of the U.S. government to negotiate Bowe’s release.
“There is a dynamic here that has changed,” Bob Bergdahl said. “Everybody is frustrated with how slowly the process has evolved.”
Pursuant to that frustration, Mr. Bergdahl said he and his wife now want to publicly thank activists across the globe who have initiated petitions and awareness campaigns to recognize Bowe and plead for his safe return to the United States. And, Mr. and Mrs. Bergdahl said, they are advocating that the Pentagon and the White House consider swapping one or more U.S. prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for their son.
“I’m pushing it hard,” Mr. Bergdahl said. “We started out by trying to encourage the Taliban to take care of our son. … Now, we’re worried that the government isn’t concerned enough to put him on the (negotiating) table.”
Mr. Bergdahl said he and his wife want to see a peaceful resolution to the standoff, preferably one that doesn’t put other American soldiers in harm’s way in order to secure Bowe’s freedom.
“We don’t want to see Americans killed,” he said.
Mrs. Bergdahl said the family has reasons to believe that Bowe is still in captivity in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
“We know he is doing as well as he can be,” she said.
Mr. Bergdahl said he believes a deal to swap Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo for Bowe would be a “win-win” for the United States—his son could be returned safely to Idaho and the government could foster goodwill with the Afghan people. The ongoing imprisonment of suspected war criminals at the Cuba compound and reports of mistreatment of prisoners there encourages anti-American sentiment and might be helping some organizations to recruit soldiers to fight against the United States, he said.
Earlier this year, talks between the Afghan Taliban and the United States in Qatar failed, as the Taliban leadership reportedly refused to accept the U.S. demand of a cease-fire before swapping prisoners. Sources in the Taliban reportedly said the group had set up an office in Qatar and wanted to negotiate for five top commanders held at Guantanamo since 2002.
Mr. Bergdahl said he and his wife have worried extensively that Bowe has been in danger of being harmed as a pawn of the ongoing war.
“Bowe’s been (living) under the drone program the entire time,” he said, referring to U.S. military initiatives to use unmanned drones to bomb enemy posts. “It scares the hell out of us.” READ MORE