HAILEY - Mayor Fritz Haemmerle says Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's hometown and a planned celebration for the released soldier are coming under fire.
Hailey has received a flood of emails and calls since it was announced Saturday that Bergdahl had been released after almost five years as prisoner of the Taliban. US officials negotiated the exchange of Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Many of the comments the town has received come from "extreme polar sides," Haemmerle wrote in a Monday release. As the town celebrates the return of one of their own, he urged those with a dim view of Bergdahl not to"pre-judge" the man.
The circumstances around Bergdahl's capture have come under scrutiny, with some saying he lagged behind on a patrol and others branding him a deserter who snuck away from his post. There are still few details on how he was taken prisoner.
If Bergdahl did leave his post without official leave, he could face prosecution under military law. But Haemmerle says people should wait until an investigation is complete before railing against the soldier.
"If objective facts and a careful investigation reveal that Bowe Bergdahl should face consequences in a United States Courtroom, then the United States should do what it believes is necessary, " he wrote. "On the other hand, if the same investigation shows that there is no evidence to support any action, then the process has worked, and people should take comfort that due process has been served."
The rally-turned-celebration, the name of which was changed from "Bring Bowe Back" to "Bowe is Back" after news broke of his release, is scheduled for June 28.
Mayor Fritz Haemmerle's full statement is below:
The City of Hailey is very pleased with the release of Bowe Bergdahl from captivity. For these past nearly five years, the City of Hailey has stood by Bowe Bergdahl’s family in their quest to bring their son home. That day has arrived, and the City of Hailey can take comfort that Bowe Bergdahl has been returned.
Past Bowe Bergdahl celebrations in Hailey have focused on bringing this soldier home. For the men and women who choose to serve, the City of Hailey believes we do not leave our soldiers behind. Bowe Bergdahl’s family is a part of our community. We celebrate the return of their son to his hometown.
The City of Hailey has received many phone calls and e-mails on the extreme polar sides of Bowe Bergdahl’s release. There are those who have negative opinions about the release of Bowe Bergdahl and the City of Hailey's planned celebration of the return of this young man to his hometown. Some of these negative e-mails do raise some very important points. If objective facts and a careful investigation reveal that Bowe Bergdahl should face consequences in a United States Courtroom, then the United States should do what it believes is necessary. On the other hand, if the same investigation shows that there is no evidence to support any action, then the process has worked, and people should take comfort that due process has been served.
The City of Hailey respectfully requests that people do not pre-judge this young man. The City of Hailey believes in due process, and we are very happy to let the process unfold. In the meantime, our celebration will focus on Bowe Bergdahl’s release and the relief of his family and those who live here.