Bowe Bergdahl

15 dramatic moments in Sgt. Bergdahl's release

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release Saturday after five years as a POW was captured on film as part of a 17-minute newscast-style propaganda clip released by the Afghan Taliban.

Below is a breakdown of some of the major moments from the video:

Bergdahl arrives

A Toyota pickup with red decals on the side has Bergdahl in the back seat. One Taliban soldier opens the door while two others stand guard near the vehicle.

Bergdahl, appearing dazed, waits

Bergdahl, dressed in white traditional Afghan garb, sits in the backseat of the truck. The beard and short crew cut seen in videos released earlier in his captivity are gone, his head now bald.

Appearing tense and almost dazed, Bergdahl blinks his eyes repeatedly, perhaps against blowing sand coming through the open truck door. At one point he licks his lips and later purses them in a slight grimace.

Taliban stand guard

Guards with AK-47 assault rifles stand along the surrounding mountain ridges, covered in scrub typical of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

U.S. surveillance planes circle overhead

In advance of the arrival of the U.S. team in Blackhawk helicopters, surveillance planes can be seen from the ground circling the area.

“Allahu Akbar!”

As the planes circle above, one of the Taliban guards outside the pickup truck waves and shouts, “Allahu Akbar!” — God is greatest!” The other guards immediately around the truck join in, raising their fists and the white truce flag.

“Don’t come back to Afghanistan.”

One of Bergdahl’s captors leans into the back of the truck, waving his finger in a berating manner.

A translation is superimposed on the screen: “Don’t come back to Afghanistan.”

Several armed Taliban on the slope

As the camera continues to pan, more Taliban guards can be seen armed on the surrounding slopes in the distance.

One of them holds a loaded PPG — rocket-propelled grenade — launcher, with two rounds on his back.

Several U.S. Blackhawk choppers appear over the horizon

Bergdahl waits outside the truck

In the dusk, Bergdahl stands outside the truck, a gray-checkered scarf over his shoulders, as the Blackhawks descend.

The Taliban begin to move

As the Blackhawks touch down, Bergdahl and two guards begin to approach the Americans.

Bergdahl stands in the middle, flanked by Taliban on either side of him, one holding the white truce flag on a stick.

The handoff

Three Americans in civilian clothes approach. One American uses his right hand to grasp Bergdahl on the POW’s left shoulder, then briefly reaches out with his left hand and shakes the right hand of one of the Taliban captors.

The Blackhawk is 30 feet behind them with an armed crew inside.


One of the Americans starts walking Bergdahl to the chopper. He gives a thumbs-up gesture to the crew inside as he and Bergdahl move toward freedom.

The Americans depart

Three Americans wave goodbye to the Taliban as they walk Bergdahl to the chopper.

One of the three walks backward in order to keep his eyes on the Taliban at all times.

Boarding the chopper

As the small group reaches the Blackhawk, two Americans stop Bergdahl and frisk him.

Lift off

As the chopper starts to lift off, two Americans sit in the hatch, facing out from the Blackhawk with their feet dangling. One of the crewmen waves at the Taliban as the Blackhawk lifts off.

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