Freed Soldier's Hometown Makes Welcome-Home Plans

Saturday, 31 May 2014 07:03 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

The news Saturday of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release from captivity spread quickly in Hailey, his hometown in southern Idaho, and residents immediately began making plans for a welcome-home celebration.

An annual event called "Bring Bowe Back" scheduled for June 28 was quickly renamed "Bowe is Back."

"It is going to be Bowe's official welcome-home party even if he's not quite home yet," organizer Stefanie O'Neill said Saturday.

Bergdahl, 28, had been held prisoner by the Taliban since June 30, 2009. He was handed over to U.S. special forces by the Taliban in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees held by the United States.

In Hailey, a town of 7,000 residents just down the road from upscale Sun Valley, residents have hung yellow ribbons along the one major road that travels through the heart of the community. Signs were taped up Saturday that said, "Bowe is free at last!"

Hailey resident Audrey Kirk said she found out about Bergdahl's release after her sister texted her the news.

"I remember when he was captured. It was awful," said Kirk, who attends the same church as Bergdahl's parents. "When I got the text, I just started screaming and went to turn on the TV. It's surreal that he's coming home."

Rebecca DeShields, also a Hailey resident, said that when she heard about the news she grabbed her bike and attached a bright yellow balloon to the front. "This is a story of redemption, this is a story of one of our own coming home," she said.

DeShields was standing outside Zaney's River Street Cafe, where Bergdahl used to work as a barista. The coffee shop became the town's center for friends and acquaintances to show support for Bergdahl.

For years, a sign that hung in the window read "Get Bowe Back." On Saturday, it was accompanied with two more signs that said, "Welcome home, Bowe!" and "Our prayers have been answered!"

Jeff Gunter, Hailey's police chief, described the day as being "extremely emotional." Gunter has been close friends with Bergdahl's family for the past 25 years.

"Nobody can know what they (the parents) went through," Gunter said. "But now that they're able to reach out and touch him, to hold him, that's amazing."

Bob and Jani Bergdahl live in a modest home off a dirt road about 5 miles outside of Hailey. They joined President Obama during an appearance in the Rose Garden Saturday evening as he announced Bowe Bergdahl's release. Bob and Jani Bergdahl planned to speak to the media in Boise on Sunday afternoon.

Bob Bergdahl learned some Pashto, the language spoken by the Taliban, and made a video, distributed via the Internet in May 2011, in a bid to appeal directly to the Taliban for his son's freedom. He also grew a beard as a personal monument to his son's plight.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter issued a statement welcoming the news and expressing gratitude for prayers for Bergdahl's release being answered.

"Today, Idaho gives thanks," Otter said. "Soon we all will celebrate Bowe's freedom and homecoming."

__

Moen reported from Cheyenne, Wyoming

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Administration Freed Illegal Immigrants Charged with Homicide

Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 12:25 PM

Illegal immigrants charged with violent crimes and serious felonies were among the hundreds of criminals the Obama admin . . .

Fewest Americans in 14 Years File Jobless Claims

Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 11:52 AM

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, but the underlying trend pointed to  . . .

Senators Ask Govt for Nationwide Air-Bag Recall

Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 11:36 AM

Two U.S. senators are calling on U.S. auto safety regulators to immediately issue a nationwide recall for cars with faul . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved