Idaho native and U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American prisoner of war from the conflict in Afghanistan, is a free man.
The White House confirmed Saturday morning that Bergdahl was in U.S. custody following an exchange for five Taliban prisoners who had been held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Bergdahl, a native of the Wood River Valley, was handed over to American Special Operations forces inside of Afghanistan early Saturday. American officials on the scene confirmed that Bergdahl appeared to be in good condition and was able to walk of his own accord.
President Barack Obama telephoned Bergdahl's parents early Saturday to confirm their son's freedom. The Bergdahl family had been in Washington, D.C., to participate in a Memorial Day service.
Bergdahl went missing in June 2009, when he reportedly was captured in a tribal area of northwest Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border.
The New York Times reports that, because of the noise of the American military helicopter that was flying him to freedom, Bergdahl scratched out a piece of paper: "S.F.?" wanting to know if his escorts were U.S. Special Forces.
"Yes," answered an American soldier. "We've been looking for you for a long time."
Bergdahl reportedly cried at the response.
The following is a statement by President Obama on Bergdahl's release:
Today the American people are pleased that we will be able to welcome home Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for nearly five years. On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal. Today we also remember the many troops held captive and whom remain missing or unaccounted for in America’s past wars. Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield. And as we find relief in Bowe’s recovery, our thoughts and prayers are with those other Americans whose release we continue to pursue.
This week the United States renewed its commitment to the Afghan people and made clear that we will continue to support them as their chart their own future. The United States also remains committed to supporting an Afghan-led reconciliation process as the surest way to achieve a stable, secure, sovereign, and unified Afghanistan. While we are mindful of the challenges, it is our hope Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery could potentially open the door for broader discussions among Afghans about the future of their country by building confidence that it is possible for all sides to find common ground.