Monday, July 20, 2009

A Brother Abroad

The Pentagon said today that troops are "sparing no effort" to find an American soldier captured by the Taliban as his family pleaded for privacy and residents in his hometown tied yellow ribbons on trees along Main Street in a show of solidarity.

The actions came two days after the Taliban released a video of Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl in captivity expressing his fear that he would never see or hug his family again. The footage showed Bergdahl with his head shaved, eating a meal and sitting cross-legged on what appeared to be a bunk.

"We've been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and concern towards Bowe and our family," the family said in a statement read by Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling. "As you know, the situation is extremely difficult for everyone involved. We'd like to remind all of you our sole focus is seeing our beloved son Bowe safely home."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates condemned the video Monday, saying he was disgusted by the exploitation of a prisoner. "Our commanders are sparing no effort to find this young soldier," Gates said at a Pentagon news conference.

Bergdahl, 23, grew up just outside Hailey, a central Idaho resort town where residents said he was home-schooled, danced ballet and rode his bike everywhere in town. They also called him adventurous and said he joined the Army at least in part because he wanted to learn more about the world. He had been stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Bergdahl's parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, have refused requests to be interviewed, and the sheriff declined to answer personal questions about Bergdahl in a news conference that was televised nationally from this town of 7,000 people.

And few in town would speak openly about Bergdahl because of fears that any remarks might hurt the possibility of his safe return. The town learned about the capture in early July but kept quiet about the ordeal.

This is Day 172.

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