On Wednesday, a former Navy SEAL, who suffered a career-ending injury during a mission to attempt to rescue Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, shared details about the harrowing experience while testifying at Bergdahl’s sentencing hearing, and wept when discussing the military dog who was killed during the mission. Bergdahl is facing a possible life sentence for desertion and endangering his comrades.
As reported by KOMO News, Bergdahl abandoned his post while in Afghanistan. He was then captured by Taliban forces and held for five years.
Retired Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer James Hatch, the wounded Navy SEAL, limped as he entered the courtroom to provide his testimony and was accompanied by Mina, his service dog.
While Hatch was composed through most of his testimony, his voice cracked as he discussed the fate of the military dog that was with them during the mission.
“His name was Remco,” said Hatch, as he struggled to maintain the measured tone used throughout his prior testimony.
According to Hatch, helicopters operated by his team came under fire as they attempted to land near the border of Pakistan, a point there was reportedly information available regarding Bergdahl’s location. There only objective was the search for Bergdahl and, according to Hatch, the mission was hastily planned.
Remco was leading the team through a field when he located two enemy fighters in the distance. The fighters sprayed the team with bullets from AK-47s, killing Remco and hitting Hatch in the leg.
“I screamed a lot. It hurt really bad… I thought I was dead,” said Hatch.
A comrade quickly applied a tourniquet, a move that Hatch believes saved his life. Hatch has since endured 18 surgeries to help repair the damage, though was unable to stay in the Navy after his injury.
Hatch now operates a nonprofit, Spikes K9 Fund, focused on the care and support of military and law enforcement dogs.
Last week, Bergdahl pleaded guilty to charges of desertion and endangering his comrades, and could be sentenced to life in prison.
It is expected that the prosecution will call additional witness during the sentencing hearing, including other wounded soldiers.
Army Col. Jeffrey Nance, the judge, has ruled that those injuries would not have occurred had Bergdahl not endangered his comrades by remaining at his post.
There is no deal in place between the prosecution and Bergdahl that would cap his potential punishment, so the judge has a significant amount of leeway when issuing a sentence. Several more days of testimony are anticipated before a decision will be rendered.