As Family Prays for U.S. Soldier, Clinton Said Capture Shows Taliban's 'Desperation'

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said capture is sign of "desperation."

July 19, 2009, 12:12 PM

July 20, 2009— -- As the U.S. government works feverishly to find Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan, residents of the quiet community where Bergdahl grew up are remembering a spunky young man who they described as easy going, and always eager to try new things, even ballet.

Bergdahl, 23, of Hailey, Idaho, went missing from his base in eastern Afghanistan June 30, and on July 3, officials declared him "missing-captured."

Residents of Hailey and neighboring Ketchum are displaying their patriotism and best wishes for Bergdahl's safe return.

Hailey resident Jackie Mizer told ABC News that word of Bergdahl's capture has been tough for the community to take. "It's a horrible thing to happen to anyone, but when it strikes home, it's much worse. It's much more personal," she said.

All around town, residents like Mizer are putting up signs, candles and yellow ribbons, small gestures with a much larger meaning. "I'm hoping that the sign, as simple as it is, indicates to the family that we're thinking about them," Mizer said.

"They're clearly shaken," family friend Sue Martin told "Good Morning America" of the Bergdahls today. "It's a struggle for everybody. I think they're doing as well as can be expected."

Martin owns Zany's Coffee shop, where Bergdahl worked for about two years.

As the family requests their privacy during this difficult time, the coffee shop has become a hub for locals and outsiders alike to express their support and concerns. Owner Sue Martin tells ABC News they've received calls from as far away as Jamaica.

Martin tells ABC News that Bergdahl "worked hard and was well-liked by customers."

"He was very easy going. He joked with them (customers) and was very helpful and was a very intelligent young man. And I think he appreciated customers and they appreciated him."

Martin said Bergdahl was always trying new and different things, including ballet.

"He's very athletic and strong and ballet is a natural fit in that regard but he did take a lot of pressure for being a young man in ballet so everybody was joking with him continually about it until the picture came out in the local paper and he was surrounded by beautiful young women and then it became clear why Bowe went to every practice," she said.

However as many in the community speak out about his capture, his family continues to request privacy.

Today in a press conference Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling read the following statement on behalf of Bergdahl's family:

"We've been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and concern towards Bowe and our family. As you know, the situation is extremely difficult for everyone involved. We'd like to remind all of you our sole focus is seeing our beloved son Bowe safely home. Please continue to keep Bowe in your thoughts and prayers, and we ask for your continued acceptance of our need for privacy in this difficult situation. Thank you."

Femling took questions from the press, but declined to answer questions about Bowe.

Bergdahl's family got their first glimpse of the soldier this weekend when the Taliban posted an online video of Bergdahl eating a meal and speaking of his imprisonment.

"I am scared -- scared I won't be able to come home," Bergdahl says in the video. "It is very unnerving to be a prisoner."

Bergdahl is a member of 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, out of Fort Richardson, Alaska.

In an interview with ABC News, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she's keeping a close eye on the efforts to bring Bergdahl home.

"We are attempting to do everything we can to locate him and free him," Clinton said. "It's just outrageous. It's a real sign of desperation and criminal behavior on the part of terrorist groups."

ABC News consultant Maj. Gen. William Nash, retired, told "Good Morning America" it's obvious from watching the Taliban video that Bergdahl is under extraordinary pressure, psychologically and possibly physically.

"The United States Army is not going to leave that soldier behind," he said. "And they are going to do everything necessary and possible to get him back."

Martin, who owns a coffee shop in Hailey where Bergdahl worked before joining the Army last year, said he is intelligent with a good sense of humor. He spent five years as a dancer with the Sun Valley Ballet School in Ketchum, Idaho.

"I remember Bowe coming in and applying., and he has very strong presence," she said. "He's a very capable man. He always would be on everything I asked for and always did more."

As the family has asked for privacy from both the public and the media, Martin said she's been taking calls at her shop from people all over the country wanting to know what they can do to help.

"I just hope that everybody can continue to be supportive and hold Bowe and his family in their hearts," she said.

Bergdahl Speaks of Girlfriend, Family on Taliban VideoEarly in the video posted by the Taliban, a captor holds up the soldier's dog tag to the camera. Later Bergdahl states his name and hometown.

He is shown in the video sitting cross-legged with a shaved head eating a meal. During the footage, the camera frequently cuts back and forth to shots of Bergdahl answering questions in short, stilted sentences.

Bergdahl, who appeared dressed in gray with the start of a beard, spoke of his family and the girlfriend he hopes to marry back home. For a moment, he began to break down and cry.

In subsequent shots, he was asked, "Any message to your people?"

He replied, "To my fellow Americans who have loved ones over here, who know what it's like to miss them, you have the power to make our government bring them home."

The 28-minute video features more question and answers about Bergdahl's view on the war, which he called extremely hard, and about Bergdahl's desire to learn more about Islam.

The military first made Bergdahl's capture public on July 2, though he was believed captured on June 30.

In a press briefing Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said his reaction to the Taliban video showing Bergdhal was "one of disgust at the exploitation of this young man." He reiterated the importance of Bergdahl's safe return saying that military commanders "are sparing no effort to find this young soldier."

Bergdahl May Have Wandered OffBergdahl says in the video that he was captured when he lagged behind on a patrol.

However, Defense officials said it appeared he somehow left his base in Paktika province at night, likely accompanied by several Afghan soldiers, and that his disappearance wasn't noted until the following day when his body armor and rifle were found in his quarters. There were some reports that Bergdahl had wandered off drunk with the Afghan soldiers.

Defense officials said they didn't know the real reason why he left, but speculated he might have been visiting a female and that he may have had prior behavioral issues.

The military conducted a major search effort for him in Paktika province and the neighboring provinces of Paktia and Ghazni. It is in those two provinces that the United States distributed leaflets written in Pashto asking for help in his rescue.

One of the leaflets requested help and provided a phone number. The other seemed directed towards his captors and showed a U.S. soldier kicking down a door and the words, "If you do not release the U.S. soldier, then you will be hunted."

The flyers were distributed via airdrops in town centers, and hand-to-hand distribution. Bergdahl is not pictured on the leaflets.

Click Here and Here to see flyers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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