Amid a rising backlash and assertions of desertion, a rally in US Army Sgt. Gowe Bergdahl's Idaho hometown - celebrating his release after 5 years of 'captivity' - has been canceled. The small mountain community's city administrator, Heather Dawson said town officials called off the June 28 rally, because the town "will be unable to safely manage the number of people expected," but residents of Hailey say they will support Bergdahl either way when he returns.
The hometown of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has canceled a rally planned for later this month celebrating his release from five years of Taliban captivity, a municipal official told Reuters on Wednesday, amid allegations that he was a deserter.
Heather Dawson, the city administrator of Hailey, Idaho, said town officials called off the June 28 event at the request of organizers because the town "will be unable to safely manage the number of people expected."
The decision came as the small mountain community was coming under mounting pressure to cancel the rally amid rising anger over claims by some of Bergdahl's former Army comrades that he had deliberately abandoned his post in Afghanistan.
The joy over Bergdahl’s return among residents of the small mountain community of Hailey, Idaho has been dampened by claims that he abandoned his post. Some have also claimed that the subsequent search for Bergdahl cost the lives of up to six soldiers, Reuters reports.
But residents say they support Bergdahl either way and that they’re continuing to prepare for a June 28 rally in his honor.
“People in Hailey have been aware for some time that there were questions about how Bowe came to be captured, and that there was a chance that Bowe could be in trouble when he came home,” said Stefanie O’Neill, a rally co-organizer.
The backlash over Bergdahl’s release reached a fever pitch early this week amid reports that the White House overrode interagency security processes to free five Taliban higher-ups in exchange for Bergdahl’s release. There has also been increasing scrutiny of Bergdahl’s absence from his post in Afghanistan before his capture.