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Old 07-19-2009, 01:44 PM
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Soldier held in Afghanistan is 23-year-old Idahoan

Soldier held in Afghanistan is 23-year-old Idahoan
Jul 19, 2009 (2:11p CDT)
By JOHN MILLER (Associated Press Writer)

HAILEY, Idaho - A soldier from Idaho who disappeared from his base in Afghanistan has been captured, the Pentagon confirmed Sunday, a day after he was seen in a Taliban video posted online.

The Defense Department released the name of Pfc. Bowe (pronounced BOH) R. Bergdahl, 23, who was serving with an Alaska-based infantry regiment. The private was serving at a base near the border with Pakistan in an area known to be a Taliban stronghold.

The 28-minute video, in which Bergdahl said he was "scared I won't be able to go home," provided the first public glimpse of the missing American. He said in the video he was lagging behind a patrol when he was captured, which conflicts earlier military accounts that indicated he left the base with three Afghans. The Pentagon gave no details of the kidnapping.

It wasn't clear who initially captured Bergdahl, but the U.S. command in Afghanistan said he was being held by the Taliban and condemned the video as a violation of international law.

"I'm glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video," spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker said. "They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law."

Bob Bergdahl, the soldier's father, told the AP Saturday that the family was requesting media respect their privacy.

"We hope and pray for our son's safe return to his comrades and then to our family, and we appreciate all the support and expressions of sympathy shown to us by our family members, our friends and others across the nation," Bob Bergdahl said in a statement issued through the Department of Defense. "Thank you, and please continue to keep Bowe in your thoughts and prayers."

On the video, which was posted on a Web site pointed out by the Taliban, Bergdahl says he's from Hailey, Idaho, a town of about 7,000 people that lies 160 miles east of Boise. The Pentagon identified his hometown as Ketchum, which is about half the size of Hailey and about 12 miles north. His family says he grew up in Blaine County, closer to Hailey.

Bergdahl is a member of 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska.

He entered the Army in June 2008 and went through basic training in Fort Benning, Ga., said Lt. Col. Jonathan Allen, spokesman for Fort Richardson. Bergdahl also took advanced individual and parachute training in Georgia.

Bergdahl reported for duty in Alaska in October, and deployed to Afghanistan in February.

Before enlisting, Bergdahl worked as a barista at a coffee shop in Hailey, Zaney's River Street Coffee House, where a sign on the counter encouraged patrons to keep Bergdahl in their thoughts and prayers.

"Join all of us at Zaney's holding light for our friend Bowe Bergdahl. Bowe has been captured in Afghanistan," the handwritten sign said.

A similar message posted July 8 on the coffee shop's Facebook page suggests many in the small town have known for some time that Bergdahl was in danger.

Friends and former co-workers at the coffee shop declined to speak on the record Sunday to an AP reporter, saying they were abiding by the Bergdahl family's wishes for privacy.

One of the directors of the Sun Valley Ballet School in Ketchum said Bergdahl performed with the group for four or five years up to about 2008.

"He's athletic," Jill Brennan said. "He just had a knack for it. He's a wonderful young man."

In the video, Bergdahl had his head shaved and was seen with the start of a beard. He was sitting and dressed in a nondescript, gray outfit. Early in the video one captor held the soldier's dog tag up to the camera. His name and ID number were clearly visible. He was shown eating at one point and sitting cross-legged.

He said the date was July 14; it's clear the video was made no earlier because Bergdahl repeated an exaggerated Taliban claim about a Ukrainian helicopter that was shot down that day.

He was interviewed in English by his captors. He was asked his views on the war, which he called extremely hard; his desire to learn more about Islam; and the morale of American soldiers, which he said was low.

Asked how he was doing, the soldier said: "Well I'm scared, scared I won't be able to go home. It is very unnerving to be a prisoner."

He later choked up when discussing his family and his hope to marry his girlfriend.

"I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America. And I miss them every day when I'm gone," he said.

He was prompted by his interrogators to give a message to the American people.

"To my fellow Americans who have loved ones over here, who know what it's like to miss them, you have the power to make our government bring them home," he said. "Please, please bring us home so that we can be back where we belong and not over here, wasting our time and our lives and our precious life that we could be using back in our own country."

Congregants at St. John's Cathedral in Boise prayed for Bergdahl Sunday morning, and Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who attends the church, told the AP that he had been working to keep the soldier's name quiet until it was officially released.

Otter said he'd been in contact with representatives of Bergdahl's family, but hasn't been part of any efforts to secure the soldier's release. "I'm sure we'll do whatever we're asked to do," Otter said of Idaho leaders.

The circumstances of Bergdahl's capture weren't clear.

On July 2, two U.S. officials told the AP the soldier had "just walked off" his base with three Afghans after his shift. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

On July 6, the Taliban claimed on their Web site that five days earlier "a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison" and was captured by mujahedeen.

Details of such incidents are routinely held very tightly by the military as it works to retrieve a missing or captured soldier without giving away any information to captors.

Afghans in contact with the Taliban told the AP that the soldier was held by a Taliban group led by a commander called Maulvi Sangin. They said the fighters decided to move him north into Taliban-controlled areas of Ghazni province.

The Afghans spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of arrest or reprisal. It was impossible to independently confirm their information.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the militants holding the soldier haven't yet set any conditions for his release.
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:55 PM
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This guy deserves all your prayers tonight guys. You have no idea how ruthless these guys can be. Lets hope we get the chance to welcome him home and hear the stories about fellow soldiers kicking down the doors and rescuing his ***.

This guy is in hot **** and needs our help and unfortunately, prayer is all we got, so give it up guys.
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Old 07-21-2009, 06:57 PM
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x2 on above post!
Please pray for him as well as all other troops and their familes!!!
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Old 07-24-2009, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 05_PSD_Erik View Post
x2 on above post!
Please pray for him as well as all other troops and their familes!!!
The guy was AWOL and left his comrades to fend for themselves. They have no sympathy for him and nor do I. I do hope for his release, but he is facing a court martial stateside.
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by R Stiefel View Post
The guy was AWOL and left his comrades to fend for themselves. They have no sympathy for him and nor do I. I do hope for his release, but he is facing a court martial stateside.
Where did you here all of this. I have not heard this!
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:11 PM
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Right here at Camp Pendleton from the Commanding officer.
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:14 PM
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I am not buying the whole "he just walked off the base" thing. I have been deployed a chit load of times now and I know that you cant just walk off of a base.
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by RRonning1984 View Post
I am not buying the whole "he just walked off the base" thing. I have been deployed a chit load of times now and I know that you cant just walk off of a base.
My time was spent in NAM, so I can't speak for the barren land where this took place. One thing they know didn't happen, was that the insurgents didn't walk into their base camp and take this guy.
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:51 PM
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Well I keep hearing this rumor that he was captured during a patrol when he fell behind.
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Old 07-24-2009, 08:31 PM
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His weapon was found in camp, so that rumor may prove to be just that. A rumor. Maybe he went out star gazing or poppy harvesting..... who knows!
At some point, an assessment will be made whether accurate or not. Whether or not he deserted his unit will be handed down by the powers that be. Until then, we can only hope for his safe return. Thank God he isn't in Iraq. They would have killed him by now.
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