The six soldiers at center of Bowe Bergdahl debate

Story highlights

  • Former soldiers allege at least six soldiers were killed in Bergdahl search
  • U.S. official: "Right now there is no evidence to back that up"
  • A mother of one says she feels her son died trying to save a "traitor"
  • Another is remembered as a joker, someone who could cheer up anyone
The deaths of six U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan are being tied, directly or indirectly, to the search for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after he went missing and was captured by the Taliban in 2009, former unit members allege.
The former soldiers' controversial accusations come days after Bergdahl was released after almost five years of enemy captivity.
A U.S. official told CNN that Pentagon and Army officials have looked at the claims, and "right now there is no evidence to back that up."
Asked about the debate, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters Wednesday that he did not know of specific circumstances or details of soldiers allegedly dying as a result of the efforts to find Bergdahl.
It is also "unfair" to Bergdahl and his family to presume anything about his motivations for leaving the base, Hagel said. He stressed that the Army would conduct a review of the case.
Former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow, Bergdahl's former team leader, elaborated on the accusations. "I can't say for a fact and I don't know if there is really anyone who can prove that soldiers died on a directed mission to find Bergdahl. However, every mission, especially in the following two or more months -- those were directed missions," he told CNN's Jake Tapper. "Everything after that, they were still missions that were in search of Bergdahl."