BOISE, ID – After their son was released from nearly five years as a Taliban captive, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s parents gave a public address in Boise Sunday.
Bergdahl, who had been the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan, was freed by the Taliban in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Obama administration officials said.
Sgt. Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. special forces by the Taliban Saturday evening near the Pakistani border.
Bergdahl’s parents, Jani and Bob Bergdahl, spoke during a public address Sunday in Boise, near their hometown of Hailey, Idaho.
Both Jani and Bob, who have not yet seen or spoken to their son, addressed Bowe directly.
“I will see you soon, my beloved son,” Jani said. “I’m so looking forward to seeing your face and giving you a great big bear hug.”
Bob Bergdahl acknowledged that his son will have a difficult time re-integrating into American life.
“Bowe’s been gone for so long that it’s going to be difficult to come back,” Bob said. “It’s like a diver .. if he comes up too fast, it could kill him.”
Bob spoke of the support teams in place around the world that helped orchestrate Bowe’s release.
“Should this ever happen to you, you will see parts of your government you never knew were there and you’ll be so thankful,” he said.
Bob also acknowledged his son’s desire to help Afghan people and others in war-torn countries around the world.
“I’m proud of how much you wanted to help the Afghan people and what you were willing to do to go to that length,” Bob said, addressing Bowe. “We’re so much like Afghanistan … the environment breeds tough people.”
But both Bob and Jani reminded the crowd gathered in the Boise auditorium that the recovery process for both Bowe and his family is far from over.
“Please be patient. Please recognize we are still on a mission, we are still in recovery mode,” Bob said. “We’re going to get some sleep, rally our families ... and do the next step of the phase.”
Bowe Bergdahl is currently being treated at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.