Obama, Standing Next to POW’s Parents, Praises the Return of Missing Soldier

While being held captive for five years, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “was never forgotten,” the president said.

President Obama, speaking to the parents of American POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, at the White House Rose Garden Saturday.
National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
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Matt Vasilogambros
May 31, 2014, 2:41 p.m.

Stand­ing next to the par­ents of re­covered Amer­ic­an POW Sgt. Bowe Ber­g­dahl, Pres­id­ent Obama re­af­firmed the com­mit­ment the United States has to its miss­ing sol­diers of war.

“This morn­ing, I called Bob and Jani Ber­g­dahl and told them that after nearly five years in cap­tiv­ity, their son Bowe is com­ing home,” Obama said, saddled by the par­ents in the White House Rose Garden. “While Bowe was gone, he was nev­er for­got­ten.”

The pres­id­ent thanked both the gov­ern­ment of Afgh­anistan for its sup­port as the war winds down, and the gov­ern­ment of Qatar, which helped fa­cil­it­ate the ex­change of Ber­g­dahl and five pris­on­ers from the de­ten­tion cen­ter at Guantanamo Bay. Obama con­firmed that he spoke to the emir of Qatar last week about the ex­change.

Ber­g­dahl was held in cap­tiv­ity by the Taliban for the last five years after he re­portedly left a U.S. base. Right now, he is cur­rently at a base in Afgh­anistan un­der­go­ing a med­ic­al eval­u­ation. Obama said his “top pri­or­ity” is to give Ber­g­dahl the care he needs.

“The United States does not ever leave our men and wo­men in uni­form be­hind,” the pres­id­ent con­tin­ued. “I am mind­ful that there are many troops who re­main miss­ing from wars past. That’s why we will nev­er for­get, nor give up our search.”

Ber­g­dahl’s par­ents met with Obama in the White House on Sat­urday. After speak­ing, the pres­id­ent gave the par­ents a chance to speak.

“We will con­tin­ue to stay strong for Bowe,” his moth­er Jani said, smil­ing.

Bob Ber­g­dahl, speak­ing next, said his son is hav­ing trouble speak­ing Eng­lish, and had a mes­sage, say­ing it in Pashto and in Eng­lish.

“I am your fath­er, Bowe,” he said.

As the three left the Rose Garden, Obama hugged both par­ents. “Yes, it’s a good day,” Jan said hug­ging the pres­id­ent.

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