On Monday, a military officer testified against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who left his post in Afghanistan in 2009. Bergdahl is being accused of endangering his comrades.
Prosecutors are arguing that his desertion put military members in harm’s way, resulting in two wounded soldiers. Prosecutors now want the injuries of two soldier involved in the rescue efforts to be used as evidence in the trial.
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Bergdahl is charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The latter charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
John Marx, U.S. Air Force Maj., testified about the great lengths he and his men went through to rescue Bergdahl, resulting in two soldiers receiving great bodily harm. He testified that 50 members of the Afghan National Army were on a search for Bergdahl when they were attacked on July 8, outside a town in Afghanistan.
Marx also testified that he was there when U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. First Class Mark Allen was shot in the head during the rescue efforts. “I looked at him, then I see a trickle of blood coming down his head,” Marx testified. Asked where Allen was wounded, Marx pointed at his temples and said: “Right through his head.”
Marx testified that he later carried Allen to the medevac helicopter, describing it as “probably one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life.”
Marx said the sole purpose of the mission was to search, and if found, rescue Bergdahl. Prosecutors stated Allen suffered traumatic brain injury and will be in a wheelchair the rest of his life, without movement or motor skills.
Another soldier, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jason Walters, was brought before the court to testified. Walters stated that he ran toward Allen as rocket-propelled grenades exploded nearby with concussive force: “Everything went black, and I saw stars.” Walters later came to and was able to call for air support.
A former Army specialist, Jonathan Morita, was at the hearing as well. Morita testified he was nearby when an unexploded RPG slammed into the rifle he was holding. He said the injury was comparable to having his hand smashed by a hammer.
He said, “I looked at it, and I thought: ‘That’s going to hurt in the morning.’ I didn’t feel it. Too much adrenaline.”
As Morita was walking out after his testimony he glared at Bergdahl, but the defendant didn’t appear to make eye contact. He remained stoic. Prosecutors are hoping the testimony from these brave men will serve as a visual aid showing the hell they went through to search for a man that abandoned his post.
Defense attorneys have argued that Bergdahl wasn’t responsible for the injuries, writing in a motion earlier this year that: “Allen’s injuries were directly caused by the Taliban, not by SGT Bergdahl.”
Army Col. Jeffery Nance made the decision Monday to push the trial back to May after prosecutors requested a delay. They cited that due to the expedited pace of the trial, they’re unable to get the approval of classified evidence in time.
Nance was clearly angered by the news, saying he would call military officials as witnesses at a December pretrial hearing if the issues aren’t resolved by then.