Jeff Smith 6:35 p.m., June 27
Fletcher, Peters join veterans to raise awareness of sole U.S. POW in Afghanistan/Iraq wars
Former state Assemblyman, mayoral candidate, and Marine Nathan Fletcher joined Representative Scott Peters and a group of veterans outside the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park yesterday afternoon (July 1), calling for greater public recognition of the plight of Bowe Bergdahl, the only current American prisoner of war in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of Bergdahl’s capture. By his account (via a video released by his captors), he was taken after falling behind other soldiers on a patrol in southeastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border, though other reports have him ambushed after venturing off base following a shift. The Taliban’s version of the story claims Bergdahl was found drunk.
“The bottom line is that we want to communicate that right now, there’s an American being held against his will by an enemy force of the United States,” said Fletcher. “And he’s probably wondering if his country forgot about him.”
The rarely-mentioned capture of Bergdahl was contrasted with the story of Jessica Lynch, an Army Private First Class captured in the early days of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which received considerable media attention and resulted in her rescue by U.S. Special Operations Forces days later.
“The notion that you don’t leave anyone behind in battle, whether injured, captured, or dead, is part of the U.S. Soldier’s Creed,” said Peters, who will be introducing a resolution supporting increased diplomatic efforts to secure Bergdahl’s release, which has been stalled as a component of a general peace agreement being brokered between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
While being held by the enemy, Bergdahl has been promoted twice, from Private First Class to Specialist in 2010, then to Sergeant in 2011.
A website launched in support of Bergdahl is currently circulating a petition demanding action from the Senate Armed Forces Committee (Peters sits on the equivalent House Committee on Armed Services), Secretary of State John Kerry, and President Barack Obama. As of this morning, the group had gathered just over 4,000 of the 100,000 signatures sought. The petition was originally launched in late April.
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- More Treacherous Than Vietnam — April 25, 2002