Freed soldier's parents: They're proud of son

REBECCA BOONE Associated Press Published:

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- The father of an American soldier who was just released after spending five years in the hands of the Taliban says his family is starting on the next step of a long mission: Helping Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl recover from his ordeal.

"We're still in recovery mode ourselves, let alone our concern about how Bowe is going to come back, and what we need to work on," Bob Bergdahl told dozens of journalists and supporters during a press conference in Boise on Sunday.

Bowe Bergdahl was captured in 2009, and questions remain about the circumstances of his capture and the U.S. government's decision to release five Guantanamo terrorism detainees in exchange for his freedom.

Bob and Jani Bergdahl declined to answer questions about that and other matters on Sunday, but they both expressed joy and gratitude for Bergdahl's safety, at times choking back tears.

Bob Bergdahl said he admired his son's patience, perseverance and ability to adapt during nearly five years as a prisoner of the Taliban. Bowe Bergdahl was freed Saturday in exchange for five Guantanamo terrorism detainees.

The parents were expected to head home to their small central Idaho town of Hailey on Sunday afternoon. They will be greeted by a community in celebration -- yellow ribbons and support rallies have become a defining symbol of the region since Bergdahl was captured.

Bouquets of yellow balloons on the doors of Wood River Valley's Presbyterian church met congregants Sunday morning, and ushers handed out yellow ribbons.

"Praise God for Bowe's release," church greeters said in welcome.

The Bergdahls usually attend the church and would give near weekly updates on the efforts to bring their son home.

On Sunday, the service was performed by former pastor Al Oliver, who led the church for nearly 15 years and knows the Bergdahl family.

"I am so happy to return here today after a joyous event," Oliver said.

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