Father to Bowe: 'Your country will not leave you on the battlefield'
HAILEY, Idaho (KBOI) - There's a new sense of urgency and hope that Idaho's captured soldier, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, could be coming home. First came a letter from the prisoner of war. Then, on Thursday, came reports the Taliban may want to swap Bergdahl in exchange for some of its soldiers.
Bergdahl's hometown, Hailey, held a motorcycle rally for the four year anniversary of his capture. Supporters of the Bergdahl family say the gathering couldn't have happened at a better time.
"There have been a lot of good signs that have come out recently," said Bob Ousley, who travelled all the way from Tennessee for the rally, "Bowe's been gone for four years, and our government has the power and the resources to bring him home. It's time."
Many others also travelled across the country to join the fight to bring Bergdahl home.
The soldier's father, Bob Bergdahl, kicked off the rally by leading hundreds of motorcycles in to Hailey on his missing son's bike.
After the motorcycle rally, leaders spoke to the crowd about bringing Idaho's missing soldier home. And for the first time in more than a year, Bergdahl's parents spoke out about their son.
Jani Bergdahl, the captured soldier's mother, thanked the group of nearly 2,000 people for remembering her son throughout the past four years.
"We are hoping that he will somehow see this and know of you," she told the crowd.
Then she sent a message to her son.
"Bowe, we love you, we support you, and we are eagerly awaiting your return home," she said, trying to hold back tears.
Bergdahl's father surprised the crowd by sending a direct message to the Taliban in Pashto, the group's native language. He then translated what he said in English.
"May the peace of God and the blessings that come from God be upon you," he said, "May we somehow, after 12 long years, find peace in Afghanistan, so that our soldiers and our American personnel can come home?"
He also pleaded that anyone in the Middle East who knows his son's whereabouts come forward.
"Do you have the information?" he asked, "Please, tell me."
He then sent a strong message out to his son, which left the crowd cheering.
"I will not leave you on the battlefield, Bowe," he promised, "These people here will not leave you on the battlefield. Your country will not leave you on the battlefield. You are not forgotten. You will not be forgotten."
After the speakers finished, the city dedicated a new Maple tree to Bergdahl. Leaders in Hailey have planted a tree for each year the soldier has been missing. Members of the community told KBOI 2News they're hopeful a fifth tree won't have to be planted.