The recent release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — who was released by his Taliban captors in exchange for the freeing of five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — has generated controversy.

Part of the uproar has centered on allegations that Bergdahl walked away from his unit in Afghanistan prior to being captured.

Herald correspondent Valerie Valdez visited with Killeen-area veterans at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9192 and the Bob Gilmore Senior Center to get their reactions to the controversy surrounding Bergdahl’s release.

Respondents were asked the following questions:

  • Do you agree with the president’s decision to swap Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Guantanamo prisoners?
  • If an investigation determines Bergdahl deserted from his unit, do you think he should be prosecuted?

Following are their responses:

  • Linda Stanley, 64, Killeen, Vietnam veteran:

“I don’t think we should be dealing with terrorists and I don’t like the way it was done, especially since the president did not consult Congress. Bergdahl walked away, and as far as I’m concerned he’s a deserter. I think he should be prosecuted and he should get life in prison, but I don’t think he should get the death penalty.”

  • Pedro Santiago, 78, Killeen, Korean War-era veteran:

“No, I don’t agree with the president. They should use the right process and do an Article 32 and go back to the beginning and investigate everything, and Bergdahl should go through the motions that everyone goes through.”

  • Samuel Lee Brown Jr., 67, Killeen, Vietnam veteran:

“I support what the president did because we should never have prisoners of war in other countries. If they find he did desert, he should be punished but not given the max. After five years of torture, and captured and everything, that is actually a penalty.”

  • Bill Taylor, 65, Harker Heights, Vietnam veteran:

“No, I don’t believe in dealing with terrorists and I consider them terrorists, not prisoners. I think he should be shot.”

  • Roy Murphy, 67, Killeen, Vietnam-era veteran:

“He’s a deserter, and one of these five Taliban have already said he’s going to continue the war, so no, it wasn’t worth it. He should be prosecuted but I don’t know if he should get the death penalty, that I’m not sure of.”

  • Joe Irby, 89, Killeen, World War II, Korea and Vietnam veteran:

“Absolutely not, and absolutely (he should be prosecuted) because he is a deserter.”

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