Santa Barbara- S County

Local Veteran Reacts to POW Release

Local Veteran Reacts to POW Release

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- - The last American soldier held captive by the Taliban starts his long journey home, but the release of Bowe Bergdahl hasn't been without its critics.

Vietnam era veteran Billy Connell spent his Sunday offering free hot dogs to sailors of the USS Reagan, a large POW flag flew high on his hot dog stand.

Connell said,  "I make sure my POW/MIA flag is flying high, I was thrilled we had a release of a POW yesterday."

Connell heard the news of Sgt. Bowe Bergdal's release, who had been a prisoner of war held captive for five years.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told ABC News  "How many soldiers lost their lives to capture those Taliban soldiers we just released."

The United States swapped five Guantanamo Bay detainees for Bergdahl's freedom. Some don't agree with the trade.

"What does this tell terrorists that if you capture the U.S soldier you can trade that soldier for five terrorists we've gone after, that's a very dangerous price."

Connell however said it was the right thing to do.

Connell said the release of the POW brought back painful memories.

"There was one gentleman who was a little older than I was back in New Jersey,  and he had been taken prisoner and he hadn't made it back to the states. I  was lucky, I was in Europe," Connell said.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel defended the release Bergdahl. He said it might open a channel with the Taliban but that wasn't the point of the swap he said the focus was to get the Army Sergeant back. 

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