As a part of the long running peace negotiations between the Taliban and the United States government, the only American POW held by enemy forces in Afghanistan was released on May 31st. The handover was carefully orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency, with operators from an Army Special Operations unit providing the boots on the ground to secure the Taliban’s prisoner: Bowe Bergdahl. The men of JSOC had eyes on Bergdahl for over three months, but were waiting for the situation to fully develop. For various reasons, it appears that for Bergdahl to be released, everything needed to line up diplomatically rather than tactically.

The release of five high level Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo has been considered by many Americans to be too high a price to pay for the safe return of one low-ranking American soldier. However, it must be remembered that Bergdahl was at this point a pawn in the game. Who he was or was not had been rendered irrelevant, now he was a political bargaining chip in negotiations which are to pave the way for a face saving US withdrawal from Afghanistan. In short, getting Bergdahl back wasn’t about Bergdahl, but rather about the future of every other service man and woman in Afghanistan.

Now that he is back in American hands, it seems safe to say that he will be thoroughly debriefed. Many have called Bergdahl’s motivations and loyalties into question, especially in regards to how he disappeared from his post in Afghanistan and was eventually captured by the enemy. Suffice to say that Bowe Bergdahl probably will not be shaking President Obama’s hand anytime soon, much less be allowed near any other important figure as long as the Secret Service has a say in the matter.

What was running through Bergdahl’s mind in the months and days leading up to his disappearance is impossible for us to say, but simply by talking to former soldiers who served with him, many puzzling questions come to the forefront. SOFREP recently spoke with the medic who served in Bergdahl’s platoon to gain further insight in what really happened in OP Mest on June 30, 2009 when Bergdahl went missing.

Joshua Cornelison was the platoon medic in 2nd Platoon, Blackfoot Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. Their OP (Observation Point) in Paktika province was a small outpost manned by thirty soldiers from 2nd platoon, more like a Vietnam-era firebase out in the middle of nowhere and a whole lot less like that mega-FOBs found in Bagram and Baghdad.

Cornelison described Bergdahl as being “super quiet,” the type of guy who really kept to himself and didn’t interact with the other guys in the platoon. Bergdahl liked to read and write and always carried a notebook around with him, in which he would scribble during the day. However, Cornelison said he saw no warning signs that Bergdahl was going to desert his post. He did mail some of his things home, but so did the other soldiers, such as books they finished reading or other odds and ends that they no longer needed to lug around Afghanistan.

Rollcall and 100% accountability of men, weapons, and equipment was conducted each day on OP Mest at 2200 and 0600. By 0600 on June 30, Bergdahl was discovered to be missing and his teammates knew that something was seriously wrong. Bergdahl’s weapon and combat equipment were in his hootch, but a few other possessions were missing.

Within hours, 2nd Platoon kicked out a 12-man patrol to scout around the wire of their compound and try to locate Bergdahl. Cornelison was on that patrol, and eventually they walked up to a school house at the closest village. After asking around for about 30 minutes, one of the school boys confirmed that he had seen a lone American crawling through the weeds on his way to school. He pointed in the direction that Bergdahl had been traveling and the patrol immediately attempted to follow up on the new lead. They looked for breadcrumbs, such as a piece of uniform or gear that would give some indication that Bergdahl wanted to be found, but there was nothing there. As night closed in, the patrol had to return to base.