WASHINGTON — President Obama appeared in the Rose Garden with Bob and Jani Bergdahl, the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, announcing that their son has been recovered from the Taliban after nearly five years of captivity.
“It’s a good day,” Obama told Jani Bergdahl, hugging her as they concluded their remarks and headed back into the White House.
Obama, who announced the release in a written statement earlier today, spoke for roughly five minutes in the Rose Garden alongside Bergdahl’s parents, after meeting with them at the White House. The couple had traveled from Idaho to D.C. over Memorial Day weekend and had remained in town afterward.
“Sgt. Bergdahl has missed birthdays and holidays and the simple moments with family and friends, which all of us take for granted, but while Bowe was gone, he was never forgotten,” Obama said. “His parents thought about him and prayed for him every single day, as did his sister Sky, who prayed for his safe return.”
Obama said he has personally thanked the emir of Qatar, who helped facilitate the deal, pledging that the U.S. “never leaves our men and women in uniform behind” and pledging an “ironclad commitment” to bringing American POWs home.
The president noted that his administration will transfer five Guantanamo Bay detainees to Qatar and said the U.S. has received “assurances that [Qatar] will put in place measures to protect our national security” once those detainees get there. The U.S. remains “committed to closing Guantanamo,” he said.
Speaking after the president, Jani Bergdahl thanked those who worked to return her son and pledged to “stay strong for Bowe while he recovers.”
Bob Bergdahl briefly addressed his son in Pashto, which he learned since his son was taken prisoner, saying that his son “is having trouble speaking English.”
“I’m your father, Bowe,” he said, before thanking the Obama administration, the military, the State Department, and foreign governments for working to return his son.