Saturday, May 31, 2014

Only POW of OEF and OIF Released From Captivity

US Soldier Freed From Captivity in Afghanistan
This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

May 31, 2014 - The only American solider held prisoner in Afghanistan has been freed from Taliban captivity in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Obama administration officials said Saturday.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. special forces by the Taliban Saturday evening, local time, in an area of eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border. Officials said the exchange was not violent and the 28-year-old Bergdahl was in good condition and able to walk.

In a statement, President Barack Obama said Bergdahl's recovery "is a reminder of America's unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield."

The handover followed secret and indirect negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban, with the government of Qatar serving as the go-between. Qatar is taking custody of the five Afghan detainees that had been held at Guantanamo Bay.

According to a senior defense official traveling with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Singapore, once Bergdahl climbed onto the noisy helicopter he took a pen and wrote on a paper plate, the "SF?" — asking the troops if they were special operations forces.

They shouted back at him over the roar of the rotors: "Yes, we've been looking for you for a long time."

Then, according to the official, Bergdahl broke down.

Uncredited/AP - This file image provided by IntelCenter on Dec. 8, 2010, shows a frame grab from a video released by the Taliban containing footage of a man believed to be U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Obama statement on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
May 31, 2014 12:38 PM - The following is the text of a statement by President Obama on the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl:

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. read more>>>

Parents of just-freed U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl: "We cannot wait to wrap our arms around our only son."

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