HAILEY • People should stop attacking Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, his family and the people of Hailey for standing by him, Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen said Wednesday.
At a news conference outside the Old County Courthouse on South First Avenue, Schoen said Hailey residents never touted Bergdahl as a hero, but they want to see him reunited with his parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl.
“We only have wanted to support his family and to see Bowe returned safely to U.S. soil,” he said.
Bergdahl was freed May 31 after spending five years as a prisoner of a Taliban group in Afghanistan.
His release has prompted a major controversy, with some members of Congress criticizing the Obama administration for swapping five Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl’s release and not informing them beforehand.
Some of Bergdahl’s former comrades say he had deserted his post before his capture.
Bergdahl now is recovering at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
Hailey canceled a welcome-home celebration planned for June 28 after a wave of hate mail and phone calls from protesters. The Bergdahl family and other community members have been threatened, Schoen said, declining to disclose details.
He asked people not to direct their “misguided rage” at the Bergdahl family and the people of Hailey.
People in Hailey are sick of the attention, of being stopped on the street and questioned by reporters, Schoen said.
“They’ve been answering questions politely and honestly and hoping for the sake of the family you all go away,” he said.
Now residents will get on with their lives.
People in Hailey have the same questions about Bergdahl’s capture that other Americans do, Schoen said, but everyone should wait for the facts.
“Don’t rush to judgment,” he said. “Be patient and allow the military justice process to work.”