Family of U.S. soldier held by Taliban marks two years

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 30, 2011 9:29 PM
Family of U.S. soldier held by Taliban marks two years

By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - The parents of a U.S. soldier being held by the Taliban marked their son's two years in captivity on Thursday by saying they intended to bring him home "with honor."

Bowe Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was a member of the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan when he went missing in June 30, 2009.

Three days later, the U.S. military declared Bergdahl captured by the Taliban.

In a statement read by Hailey Mayor Rick Davis at a ceremony Thursday, Robert and Jani Bergdahl said at the time of the capture they began "pacing ourselves for the long haul, just like we believe Bowe has been doing."

"We have not forgotten Bowe and we have not forgotten every single act of your support to bring Bowe back home with honor," the couple said in their statement.

The Army on June 16 promoted Bergdahl, 25, to the rank of sergeant. He was promoted to specialist in June 2010.

In a statement released Thursday, the NATO security force in Afghanistan said U.S. and NATO forces have made bringing Bergdahl home a top priority.

"We will continue in our effort to ensure his safe return," said Rear Admiral Vic Beck, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force.

The branch of the Taliban believed to be holding Bergdahl operates on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and may be based in tribal lands in Pakistan, according to reports by the U.S. Department of Defense.

In May, Robert Bergdahl posted an online appeal asking the government of Pakistan and its armed forces to help free his son.

Bergdahl is the only U.S. soldier in captivity.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)