Lehigh Valley

Former POW speaks about Bergdahl's release

Former POW speaks about Bergdahl's release

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is back on U.S. soil, but his homecoming is being overshadowed by accusations he was a deserter.

Exactly how Sgt. Bergdahl was captured is the subject of a lot of speculation.

His homecoming has POW's thinking about their own experiences and what should be done now.

"I'm glad that he is back home and I just hope that half of the stuff I have heard about him is not true," said Bethlehem resident Frank Ginther.

Ginther says he's waiting for the facts surrounding how Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was captured by Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

The US swapped five Taliban prisoners to secure his release following five years of captivity.

But accusations Bergdahl was captured because he deserted his post are overshadowing his release.

Ginther knows the brutality of being a POW.

It was January 23, 1968.

Ginther was one of eighty crew members aboard the USS Pueblo just off the coast of North Korea.

The ship was captured.

The crew forced to sign false confessions and endure daily beatings and mental torture for nearly a year.

Finally, the U.S. secured their release and the men were sent home to a heroes' welcome.

"It was almost like pinch me is this for real because the 11 months we there there you lived in fear," said Ginther.

Ginther says for some the adjustment was easy; others suffer from PTSD to this day.

Ginther says he knows speculation Bergdahl may be a deserter may not make the transition into everyday life easy for Bergdahl.

"I know the military is being very cautious there are people that are stepping forward that were in his unit that are saying he walked away, men were killed trying to rescue him," said Ginther.

"I think in all fairness to him you have to understand the facts behind what happened and I don't think we know all that yet."

Ginther says the Navy recommended his commander be court martialed for surrendering his ship, but the Secretary of the Navy dropped the charges because the crew of the Pueblo had already been through so much.

Ginther says no matter what happens, he hopes the Army shows compassion for what Bergdahl has been through.

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