Video Sparks Hope for Captured Soldier's Family
BOISE, Idaho - The family of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured more than four years ago in Afghanistan, says a new video of the soldier believed to have been taken in the last month has bolstered its resolve to bring him home safely to Idaho.
U.S. officials confirmed Wednesday they'd received the video several days ago. They said it shows Bergdahl, now 27, in poorer health than previous footage taken in the years since he went missing in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009.
Bergdahl, from Hailey in central Idaho, is believed held by a group affiliated with the Taliban somewhere in Pakistan.
Irregular releases like this showing Bergdahl and his captors have offered hope for his parents their son will eventually be freed. This latest footage is no different, Bob and Jani Bergdahl said in a statement Wednesday.
"Naturally, this is very important to us and our resolve to continue our efforts to bring Bowe home as soon as possible," their statement said. "As we have done so many times over the past four and a half years, we request his captors to release him safely so that our only son can be reunited with his mother and father."
Bergdahl's parents have dedicated themselves full-time to doing what they can from thousands of miles away to secure his freedom.
For instance, Bob Bergdahl has grown a long, thick beard and sought to learn Pashto, the language spoken by his captors.
And though he has largely shunned interviews with the media, he has become a frequent presence on Internet social media sites including Twitter, where he has posted hundreds of entries on issues connected to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, drone strikes in the region - and his son, including a tweet Wednesday afternoon.
"If you see this, continue to remain strong through patience," Bob Bergdahl wrote. "Your endurance will carry you to the finish line. Breathe!"
Bergdahl's family has been forced to remain patient, too.
So far, nothing has come of the Taliban's proposal last June to free him in exchange for several of their most senior operatives now being detained at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
That offer lost steam after the Taliban only weeks later shuttered its newly opened office in the Gulf state of Quatar, abandoning a diplomatic approach while renewing its vow to fight Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government.
Even so, residents of Hailey, where Bowe Bergdahl spent most of his first 23 years before enlisting in the Army, continue to adorn the resort town's trees and utility poles with yellow ribbons, to keep him on their minds.
The U.S. officials who confirmed the video footage Wednesday were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Associated Press writer Baldor reported from Washington, D.C.