A former U.S. Army Ranger sniper and author of a best-selling book about his combat tour in Afghanistan said yesterday that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl should be executed if found guilty of deserting his unit in 2009.
“I think he should definitely be put to death,” said Nicholas “Irv” Irving, the author (with Gray Brozek) of The Reaper: Autobiography of One of the Deadliest Special Ops Snipers, said on this writer’s radio show. “He’s given a lot of information to the enemy and he should pay the price.”
Since being released last year, Bergdahl has received two promotions and about $300,000 in back pay. He currently has a desk job at an Army base in Texas.
“They called him an honorable soldier,” Irving said. “No, I don’t agree with that.”
Bergdahl spent five years with the Taliban before being released last year in exchange for the release of five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. The Pentagon has confirmed that six soldiers died in military operations searching for Bergdahl after he left his unit without permission.
While “missing,” Bergdahl was listed with a never-before-used military designation: “duty status: unknown.”
Fox News Channel and later NBC News have reported that Bergdahl is accused of desertion in a “charge sheet” – the military equivalent of an indictment. On Tuesday, the Pentagon denied that a decision has been made to charge Bergdahl, who voluntarily left his unit.
Irving, whose book was listed at number 81 on Amazon Tuesday night, was serving in Afghanistan at the time Bergdahl went missing.
“I can’t get too in depth about what I know and what occurred,” he said. “But I knew he had deserted long before the news had reported it.”
Irving said he was particularly distressed by the back pay that Bergdahl received after spending five years with the Taliban.
“That money shouldn’t have been released until after his trial,” said Irving, who now lives in San Antonio. “And it should have been given to the families of the men who died trying to ‘save’ him.”
Irving’s book, “The Reaper,” takes its name from Irving’s nickname among his fellow Rangers. He was the first black sniper in his battalion, and had 33 confirmed kills. After returning to the U.S., he said, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and developed a drinking problem before successful treatment at a VA hospital.
Irving now lives in San Antonio and runs a business in which he teaches long-range shooting.
Appearing later on this writer’s radio show, retired Army colonel David Hunt, now a Fox News contributor, said that despite the evidence against him, he doubted Bergdahl would ever face the death penalty.
“No administration that gave up five terrorists,” Hunt said, “is going to turn around and execute the guy that they got back.”
Hunt said that if a charge sheet is issued, Bergdahl can demand a trial by court martial, or try to negotiate a less than honorable discharge.
“Bergdahl deserves a dishonorable discharge,” Hunt said, “but I doubt he’ll get one, after Obama hosted his parents at a reception in the Rose Garden.”
The only American serviceman executed for desertion since the Civil War was Pvt. Eddie Slovik, an ex-con from Detroit who faced a firing squad in France in 1945.
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