FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant facing charges of desertion, walked out of a military courtroom during a pre-trial hearing Monday and has not been seen since approximately 10:35 AM, prompting a statewide manhunt for the missing soldier.
Sources inside the courtroom say that Bergdahl took only a half-full Camelbak and a long hunting knife with him as he calmly made his way to the exit during his own lawyer’s remarks to the judge regarding a possible plea deal.
Bergdahl left behind a note stating that he intended to “start a new life,” that he did not believe in the legal proceedings taking place around him, and that he did not want to fight for his defense anymore.
“Life is way too short to care for the damnation of others,” Bergdahl wrote, adding, “I am ashamed to even be an American [deserter].”
Three soldiers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division were reportedly injured during the search for Bergdahl.
Staff Sgt. Randy Parker was admitted to Womack Army Medical Center for a broken collarbone he received when his military police vehicle hit a roadside traffic safety device, causing it to roll over. Two unnamed Army privates were injured in an unrelated incident involving a floor buffer and rubber training rifles, which they insisted were necessary to the search effort.
ISIS and Al Qaida have both claimed responsibility for the casualties, though their claims have yet to be verified.
Pentagon leadership is offering an unusual reward for information on Bergdahl’s whereabouts: $25,000 or seven Guantanamo detainees, depending on the credibility of the information.
Officials are warning the public that if they see Bergdahl, they should not attempt to approach him, since he may try to surrender and become their responsibility for the next five years.