President Barack Obama on Saturday afternoon praised Jani and Bob Bergdahl for never giving up hope that their son, U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, would be released after nearly five years in capitivity.
“While Bowe was gone, he was never forgotten,” the president said from the Rose Garden, flanked by Bergdahl’s parents.
“He wasn’t forgotten by his community back in Idaho. He was not forgotten by the military. He wasn’t forgotten by the nation, because we never leave our soldiers behind,” Obama said.
The nation will wait eagerly, Obama said, for the Bergdahls to see their son.
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“I know I speak for all Americans when I say we cannot wait for the moment when you’re reunited and your son Bowe is back in your arms,” he said.
The Bergdahls were already in Washington, D.C., for a previously planned trip when they learned Saturday morning that their son had been released in exchange for five former members of the Taliban, who were being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported Bowe. He’s had a wonderful team everywhere,” Jani Bergdahl said.
Bob Bergdahl greeted his son in the Pashto language of Afghanistan, which he learned since his son’s capture. He said he wasn’t sure his son would understand English as well after his years in captivity.
“The complicated nature of this recovery will really never be comprehended," Bob Bergdahl said, in thanking the military, the U.S. government and foreign governments involved in his son’s release. “We just can’t communicate the [emotions we felt] this morning when we heard from the president.”
Obama hugged Jani Bergdahl and put his arms around both of Bowe’s parents as they walked away from the microphone and into the White House.