I served 24 years in the United States Army, 21 of them in Special Forces, and I fought in two combat campaigns, El Salvador and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Command Sgt. Major Dan Pitzer, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam and later a senior civilian instructor for the Army's SERE school was a close friend of mine. He shared many experiences with me about his four years as a captive of the Viet Cong.
Unlike Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Sergeant Pitzer did not "walk away" from his unit and actively seek refuge with the enemy ("Bergdahl is free, but at what cost," June 9). He upheld the POW code of conduct during and after his release. You cannot "volunteer" to become a POW — you are forced to by wartime circumstances.
In 2006, Pfc. Thomas Tucker and a fellow soldier were taken as POWs in Iraq. They were butchered on the street soon afterward and their mutilated corpses were filmed by their killers and broadcast as propaganda. I helped to bring Private Tucker home for burial in my capacity as a law enforcement officer in Oregon at the time. Like Sergeant Bergdahl, Private Tucker also came from a small town in the Northwest.
In light of these two examples, Sergeant Bergdahl is a disgrace to the uniform he wore and to our nation. Better he had been left to endure the weight of his decision five years ago than to have been traded as he was for the dregs of the Taliban. However, now that he is recovered he should be tried and accept the consequences of a court martial board, whatever they may be.
The writer is author of "At the Hurricane's Eye: U.S. Special Operations Forces from Vietnam to Desert Storm."
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