A Lieutenant Colonel and Army lawyer says accused deserter Bowe Bergdahl should be awarded several medals for his service.
Army Lt. Col. Franklin Rosenblatt said Bergdahl, accused of abandoning his eastern Afghanistan post in 2009 before he was captured by the Taliban, is entitled to wear the Purple Heart, the POW Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the NATO medal and that the Army’s failure to grant them could cause bias among jury members.
“We believe this is a prejudice and casts a semblance of guilt,” Rosenblatt told Army judge Col. Jeffrey R. Nance, during a hearing largely focused on the defense’s ability to access classified material related to Bergdahl’s case. “We encourage the government to correct that.”
At the hearing, Berdahl wore a pressed dress blue uniform with sergeant’s stripes, a Combat Infantryman Badge, and 10 overseas service bars, representing his five years in captivity. Rosenblatt said Bergdahl should be immediately authorized to wear the Purple Heart, the POW Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the NATO medal.
Nance, the presiding judge in Bergdahl’s trial, said there is plenty of time to resolve the issue before the scheduled Aug 8- Aug 19 trial. He quickly added that any prejudice caused by the lack of medals in pre-trial hearings would be “minimal.”
The alleged deserter faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted on the charge of misbehavior before the enemy while the desertion charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, reduction of rank to E-1 and forfeiture of all pay and benefits.