Paying Attention to the Bowe Bergdahl Court Martial?

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s charge sheet and legal filings history.

SEAL wounded in Bowe Bergdahl rescue try: ‘I want him to be accountable’


BostonHerald: A former Navy SEAL who was severely injured in a failed attempt to rescue Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl says the former Taliban captive now accused of desertion deserves punishment for endangering the lives of those who tried to save him.

“The guy should be held accountable. He left, he risked lives and he pulled assets from other parts of the war,” said retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Jimmy Hatch, who added he knew someone would get “killed or hurt” as a result of Bergdahl’s decision to leave his unit.

“Sure enough, days later I was shot, lying in a field screaming my head off,” said Hatch, whose femur was shattered, the bone blasted out of the back of his right leg by an AK-47 round in the effort to rescue Bergdahl from the Taliban.

Hatch spoke to the Herald yesterday as Bergdahl’s commanding officer testified at Fort Sam Houston in Texas that his unit searched for the missing sergeant for weeks. Bergdahl — who disappeared from his post in 2009 in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban for five years — is facing a military tribunal to determine whether he should undergo a court-martial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Hatch, a 48-year-old Bronze Star recipient, said he’s speaking out now because the Bergdahl hearing needs more media attention.

“I think it’s telling that this hearing isn’t a blip on the radar of today’s news,” he said. “It’s all about Donald Trump and the political circus.”

“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,” said Hatch, who suffered debilitating depression because he felt he failed the mission. “I struggled hard after I got hurt.”

Bergdahl’s defense attorneys plan to argue that their client has already suffered enough in his lengthy captivity.

But Hatch said Bergdahl shouldn’t get a pass because his careless actions placed numerous American lives in harm’s way.

“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,” said Hatch, who underwent 18 surgeries on his leg and still walks with a limp.

“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,” he said.

While rescuing Bergdahl, Hatch said he didn’t think of him as a deserter, just as a comrade in arms who needed to be saved.

“He’s an American, and he’s got a mom, he’s got people who are close to him,” Hatch recalled. “I just didn’t want his mom to see his head chopped off on YouTube.”

Hatch suspects that the “bad guys” who captured Bergdahl were prepared for the two-helicopter rescue mission — citing the high number of men and force of firepower Hatch faced.

“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,” Hatch recalled.

“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” said Hatch.

The bottom line for Hatch is that Bergdahl should face a court-martial.

“The military will do the right thing,” he said. “I have faith that they are going to examine everything. I want him to be accountable.”

Hatch wasn’t able to return to service following his injury, but he said yesterday he’s focused on his new charity that helps K9 dogs similar to a pooch who spotted the enemy during his Bergdahl rescue mission. Spike’s K9 Fund is a 501c3 that has helped rescue more than 25 dogs as well as provide them with equipment and needed surgeries.

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Denise Simon