Only U.S. Soldier Held In Afghanistan Freed

Bowe Bergdahl (File)

WASHINGTON (May 31, 2014) Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan, was freed Saturday.

Berghdal, 28, had been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009.

He was in good condition and able to walk, the officials said.

President Barack Obama delivered the news of the release to Bergdahl’s parents.

“On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal,” he said in a statement.

“Today we also remember the many troops held captive and whom remain missing or unaccounted for in America’s past wars. Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield. And as we find relief in Bowe’s recovery, our thoughts and prayers are with those other Americans whose release we continue to pursue,’ he said.

Bergdahl's release was part of a negotiation that includes the release of five Afghan detainees held in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The negotiation between the U.S. and the Taliban was mediated by the government of Qatar.

“The United States has coordinated closely with Qatar to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Saturday.

Bergdahl was turned over to U.S. Special Forces troops at around 9:30 a.m. CDT Saturday and was flown to a forward operating base where he was to undergo a thorough medical examination.

An official told CNN that during the noisy flight, Bergdahl wrote “SF?” on a paper plate, asking if his rescuers were Special Forces personnel.

The soldiers loudly replied, “Yes. We’ve been looking for you for a long time,” the official said.

At that, the official said, Bergdahl broke down in tears.

"The United States government never forgot Sgt. Bergdahl, nor did we stop working to bring him back," Hagtel said.

"I am grateful to all the military and civilian professionals, from DOD and our interagency partners, who helped make this moment possible, and to all those Americans who stood vigil with the Bergdahl family," he said.

Bergdahl, of Ketchum, Idaho, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, from Fort Richardson, Alaska, when he disappeared after walking off his base in eastern Afghanistan with three Afghan counterparts.

Three weeks after he disappeared, the Taliban posted a 28-minute video of Bergdahl, who was then a 23-year-old private.

On the video Bergdahl could be heard saying he's "scared I won't be able to go home."

Bergdahl was promoted to the rank of sergeant in June 2011, while he was still in captivity.