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June 2, 2014

Freed soldier's parents say they're proud of son

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The father of an American soldier just released from captivity in Afghanistan said Sunday that he is proud of how far his son, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, was willing to go to help the Afghan people.

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.

"But most of all, I'm proud of how much you wanted to help the Afghan people, and what you were willing to do to go to that length," Bob Bergdahl said, fighting back tears during a press conference in Boise.

"And I think you have succeeded," he added.

Parents Bob and Jani Bergdahl didn't elaborate on what his comments meant.

The circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's capture remain something of a mystery. There has been some speculation that he willingly walked away from his unit, raising the question of whether he could face charges.

In 2012, Rolling Stone magazine quoted emails Bergdahl is said to have sent to his parents that suggest he was disillusioned with America's mission in Afghanistan, had lost faith in the U.S. Army's mission there and was considering desertion. Bergdahl told his parents he was "ashamed to even be American." The Associated Press could not independently authenticate the emails.

Bergdahl's parents declined to take any questions at the press conference, but they spoke about what they anticipate will be a long healing process as their son reintegrates into American society.

"We're talking like this because we haven't talked to Bowe yet," Bob Bergdahl told the crowd of about three dozen journalists and nearly as many supporters of prisoners of war and those missing in action at the Idaho National Guard's Gowen Field. "That's because Bowe has been gone so long that it's going to be very difficult to come back."

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