Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who left his Afghanistan stationed Army unit in the middle of the night in June 2009 to gather intelligence, tells his story on season two of the “Serial” podcast.
"I'm going, 'Good grief, I'm in over my head,'" Bergdahl said in episode one of the podcast, released Dec. 10.
Armed with only knives, Bergdahl said he ventured out into the night, aware that he may face serious punishment for his actions, or be shot if he was mistaken for a Taliban fighter upon returning to the outpost. He wanted to collect intelligence on the Taliban for the U.S. military so his absence would be substantiated.
"Suddenly, it really starts to sink in that I really did something bad," Bergdahl said. "Or, not bad, but I really did something serious."
Bergdahl kept going, with the intention to mimic a movie character: Jason Bourne.
"Doing what I did is me saying that I am like, I don't know, Jason Bourne," Bergdahl told filmmaker Mark Boal, who collected the interviews with him that will be featured on the second season of the “Serial” podcast.
"I had this fantastic idea that I was going to prove to the world that I was the real thing," Bergdahl said. "You know, that I could be what it is that all those guys out there that go to the movies and watch those movies -- they all want to be that -- but I wanted to prove I was that."
Bergdahl’s plan resulted in him being captured by Taliban fighters on motorcycles, who held him captive for nearly five years. He was released when President Barack Obama traded five Taliban detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center for his freedom in May 2014, CNN reports.
His homecoming was not what was expected, as people said he should not be celebrated, and some of the soldiers from his unit called him a deserter, a traitor.
After an investigation, Bergdahl was charged by the Army with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place, USA Today reported in May. The misbehavior charge carries a potential life sentence.
"The Army did the right thing here," Cody Full, 26, a former platoon mate of Bergdahl’s, said after the charges were made, according to USA Today.
"The whole reason we came forward last year when they released Bowe, we knew he needed to answer for what he did," Evan Buetow, 28, who was a sergeant and team leader of Bergdahl’s unit, said. "We knew he was not a hero … He had to answer for why he deserted, and that's what happened.''
The 25 hours of interviews between Boal, the filmmaker who wrote and produced “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” and Bergdahl will be the focus of “Serial” season two. It will be the first time he has told his side of the story publicly.