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Hailey Residents React To Bowe Bergdahl Controversy

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By Joey Martin

Hailey, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) After five years of waiting and wondering, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is free and under the care the U.S. Military in Germany.

But, just days after his release, there are accusations that the Hailey native may have abandoned his post before he was captured by Taliban forces.

For five years, the residents of Hailey have been standing strong behind Bergdahl, their native son.

So how do locals feel about this?

"We don't know the full truth and the outcome of it... and if he did walk, he has more than served his time. He had five years in one of the worst prisons in the world," says Hailey resident Trent Heitzman.

Yellow ribbons and “Bowe is Free at Last” posters line Main Street in Hailey.

A community that has spent the last five years wondering when and if their native son would ever be returned has finally been able to breathe.

But now, accusations that the Army Sergeant might have willingly abandoned his post before being captured by Taliban forces has a community split.

"I don't know that it really matters at this point. I think he has been through a lot, and I think that any accusations that anyone might have... it just seems at this point, should be let go of and focus on that he's released and getting him back in the US," says Tricia Swartling, Ketchum resident.

"I think it's kind of a crazy accusation...why would he do that? He's basically committing suicide. He's going to get caught... there is nowhere to go. I don't see any purpose it in whatsoever," adds Hailey resident Gina Clark.

Sue Martin is a long time friend of Sergeant Bergdahl and his family.

She isn't willing to address these accusations until she knows that Bowe has had his chance to speak.

"I wasn't there... and now that Bowe is safe, we'll hear his story and have some information about what happened from Bowe," Martin says.

There are some in the community that feel Bergdahl is a deserter and abandoned his post, but they were not willing to go on camera.

But what is known: Bowe is alive and safe, and for many residents of the Wood River Valley, that's all that matters.

The City of Hailey released a statement Monday afternoon on this matter.

It stated, “The City of Hailey respectfully request that people do not pre-judge this young man. The City of Hailey believes in due process, and we are 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.”


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