When Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl went missing in 2009, his brothers in uniform went to try and find him.
In the days since he was released in a prisoner exchange involving 5 Taliban leaders being held in Guantanamo Bay, accusations that Bergdahl was intentionally going AWOL when he disappeared and may have been aiding the enemy have flown across the world.
But what of those searches to retrieve him? What of the 6 men who died in an effort to ensure that Bowe Bergdahl could live?
Pfc. Matthew M. Martinek
Pfc. Martinek died in September of 2009 looking for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Friends and family describe Martinek as a fun loving guy who loved the outdoors and loved being in the United States Army. At just 20-years-old, Martinek died of injuries sustained in the Paktika province.
“If you were in a bad mood, he always did something to cheer you up y’know, one of those clowns,” a friend told the Associated Press.
2nd Lt. Darryn D. Andrews
Second Lieutenant Andrews died in September 2009 trying to save Bowe Bergdahl. With a father and uncle who served in the Armed Forces, Andrews knew the possibility of death overseas was a real possibility. Following his first tour in Afghanistan, Andrews went back to college and left as an officer. Even though he could have spent his second tour away from enemy fire on a military base, Andrews made sure he was always standing shoulder to shoulder with his brothers in arms.
Andrews sustained a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade after seeing a Taliban fighter aiming the weapon at members of his unit.
Pfc. Morris L. Walker
Pfc. Walker was killed August 2009 trying to save Bowe Bergdahl. A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate, Walker was an avid basketball player and involved in student government in college. Teachers described Walker as a well adjusted young man who was far more responsible and mature for his age than his adolescent peers.
“He didn’t have to be a star of anything,” his guidance counselor told the Associated Press.
“He just wanted to be a participant.”
Staff Sgt. Michael C. Murphrey
SSG Murphrey died in September 2009 trying to save Bowe Bergdahl. When friends and family mourned the loss of SSG Murphrey, they remembered a man who put service and family above just about everything in life. The married father of two and Texas native was remembered fondly in a YouTube tribute video following his death.
Staff Sgt. Clayton Bowen
SSG Bowen died in August 2009 trying to save Bowe Bergdahl. The Texas native joined the Army at just 17-years-old. The avid singer and former drill sergeant was just one month away from the end of his service and 30th birthday when he died. His mother remembered him fondly in the Military Times.
“Clay called me around midnight to tell me I wouldn’t hear from him for a few days,” she said. As she later learned, “the mission was to travel to the voting precincts so the Afghans could vote in the presidential election. His humvee hit an IED on the way.”
Staff Sgt. Kurt R. Curtiss
SSG Curtiss died in August 2009 trying to save Bowe Bergdahl. The married father of two was in the midst of his third tour of duty overseas when he died in Afghanistan in late August 2009. His family remembered him as a purposeful man who knew that what he was doing was bigger than the last name on his chest.
“He felt we were in danger and he wanted to do something to help,” his sister told the Associated Press.
Visit Military Times to find out more.