A former Navy SEAL who has undergone 18 surgeries to repair the shattered femur he suffered from an AK-47 round when he tried to rescue deserter Bowe Bergdahl wants Bergdahl “held accountable” for the Americans he put at risk.
Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Jimmy Hatch, 48, who was awarded the Bronze Star, told The Boston Herald, “The guy should be held accountable. He left, he risked lives and he pulled assets from other parts of the war,” adding that after Bergdahl deserted he knew some soldiers would get “killed or hurt” attempting a rescue. Hatch continued, “Sure enough, days later I was shot, lying in a field screaming my head off. “My injuries, I took a bullet — people had to risk their lives to come and save me. A helicopter had to fly back into a very active gunfight.”
What’s amazing isn’t that Bergdahl walked off, it’s amazing that we went out to rescue him. … I want, as a person who paid a bit of a price for his decision, I want him to be held accountable. Hostage rescue missions are very, very difficult and Mr. Bergdahl’s decision created a situation where a lot of Americans had to risk their lives … We were very, very fortunate that a whole lot of Americans weren’t killed. I think that the people who had him captive were probably thinking that someone was going to get him. This wasn’t a typical two or three guys with AK-47s. There were crew-serviced machine guns and suicide grenades. They weren’t your average Taliban guys, and there were a lot of them.
Hatch acknowledged that he had suffered depression from believing he had failed in his rescue mission. He explained how committed he was to the rescue, saying, “He’s an American, and he’s got a mom, he’s got people who are close to him. I just didn’t want his mom to see his head chopped off on YouTube.”
Bergdahl deserted his unit in Afghanistan in 2009, and was captured and held by the Taliban until 2014. A military tribunal is considering whether to court-martial him for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and could sentence him to life in prison.
Hatch expressed frustration that Bergdahl’s trial has received scant media attention, saying, “I think it’s telling that this hearing isn’t a blip on the radar of today’s news. It’s all about Donald Trump and the political circus.”
Hatch wants Bergdahl court-martialed, but trusts the system, concluding, “The military will do the right thing. I have faith that they are going to examine everything. I want him to be accountable.”
Six service members died in the 45-day rescue attempt, and later five of the most dangerous Taliban commanders held by the U.S. were exchanged for Bergdahl’s release by the Obama Administration, which knew that Bergdahl had intentionally deserted and planned on renouncing his American citizenship but still encouraged the military to rescue him.
Barack Obama called Bergdahl’s return to the United States a “good day.”