- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2009

Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier captured by the Taliban, is known as a born adventurer around his hometown of Ketchum, Idaho — a town made famous for its breathtaking wilderness and those drawn to its challenges.

“Bowe’s a pretty impressive young man,” said Sue Martin, Pcf. Bergdahl’s former employer at Zaney’s River Street Coffee House and a family spokeswoman. She spoke to The Washington Times “America’s Morning News” radio show on Monday morning. “You don’t miss him. He’s a strong presence, very interesting, very diverse — an adventurer. He’s a really great guy.”

The coffee shop, trimmed in yellow ribbons and posters, has become the unofficial home for friends and well-wishers of the Bergdahl family and is about 10 miles outside of Sun Valley and Ketchum, whose valley streams and nearby mountains attracted and inspired American novelist Ernest Hemingway.

“People are happy to find a place where they can show their concerns and support,” Ms. Martin said.

She thinks Pfc. Bergdahl’s captors forced him to say in the video released Saturday that the U.S. government should bring home troops “so that we can be back where we belong and not over here.”

Said Ms. Martin: “We don’t think that’s something that he’d say.”

She also said Pfc. Bergdahl, in the roughly 18 months that he worked at the coffee shop, constantly talk about joining the military and wanted to learn everything about most anything.

Others who know Pfc Bergdahl, 23, say he was a home-school student who also learned ballet.

Pfc. Bergdahl was serving in a combat-paratrooper unit based in Fort Richardson, Alaska.

He was in Afghanistan about five months before he went missing on June 30.

“Well, I’m scared — scared I won’t be able to go home,” he also said in the video, which appears to have been made in mid-July. “It is very unnerving to be a prisoner.”

He appears in the video with a shaved head and wearing a pajamalike outfit know as a Salwar Qameez, traditional Pakistani attire.

It remains unclear whether Pfc. Bergdahl was taken while wandering off his eastern Afghanistan base or captured when he fell behind in a small patrol.

The U.S. military has condemned the 28-minute video as Taliban propaganda.

Ms. Martin said she has spoken with the soldier’s father, Bob Bergdahl, who along with other family members and residents has known for weeks about the capture.

She said Mr. Bergdahl thanked the news media for respecting his family’s privacy. He has released a short statement to the public. A small, handmade sign hangs outside the family home that reads: “No visitors.”

“We hope and pray for our son’s safe return to his comrades and then to our family,” Mr. Bergdahl said in a statement released by the Pentagon. “We appreciate all the support and expressions of sympathy shown to us by our family members, our friends and others across the nation. Thank you, and please continue to keep Bowe in your thoughts and prayers.”

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