The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Army: Bergdahl 'looked good' upon return to US after 5 years in Taliban captivity

  • Print
Vehicles drive toward the entrance of Brooke Army Medical Center Friday, June 13, 2014, in San Antonio. Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant who has been recovering in Germany after five years as a Taliban captive, returned to the United States early Friday to continue his medical treatment at the facility. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Enlarge Image

Vehicles drive toward the entrance of Brooke Army Medical Center Friday, June 13, 2014, in San Antonio. Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant who has been recovering in Germany after five years as a Taliban captive, returned to the United States early Friday to continue his medical treatment at the facility. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

SAN ANTONIO - Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was nervous when arrived back in the United States following five years of captivity by the Taliban, but he "looked good" and saluted a commanding officer who welcomed him home, military officials said.

Bergdahl is working daily with health professionals to regain a sense of normalcy and move forward with his life, officials added.

Bergdahl's family has not joined him since he arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in Texas early Friday, and Army officials would not say when relatives might show up.

In a statement read at a news conference Friday, Bergdahl's parents said they "are overjoyed that their son has returned to the United States" but asked for privacy.

Maj. Gen. Joseph P. DiSalvo, who greeted Bergdahl upon his arrival from an Army medical facility in Germany, said he exchanged a few words with Bergdahl after a three-vehicle convoy met him.

"He appeared just like any sergeant would when they see a two-star general, a little bit nervous. But he looked good and saluted and had good deportment," DiSalvo said at the news conference, adding that Bergdahl was in stable condition.

Officials said there is no timeline for the final step in Bergdahl's reintegration process.

"We will proceed at his pace," said Col. Bradley Poppen, an Army psychologist.

As far as Bergdahl's interaction with relatives, Poppen said a soldier typically determines when to reunite with his or her family. Poppen declined to release further details, citing the family's request for privacy. After the news conference, officials said they did not know if Bergdahl has spoken with his family.

Military officials declined to give details on what Bergdahl might remember about his capture or what he knows about the public uproar surrounding his capture and release.

In the short time he has been back on U.S. soil, Bergdahl, who can walk on his own, has been on a bland diet and has shown a fondness for peanut butter, officials said.

While at Brooke Army Medical Center, Bergdahl will have a "standard patient room" but will not have access to a television, said Col. Ronald Wool, who is in charge of Bergdahl's medical care.

"We will bring him up slowly to what has been transpiring over the last five years," Wool said.

Bergdahl arrived speaking English, though officials indicated his speech had been impacted from being in captivity for so long.

"Overall our assessment is that he did not have the opportunity the past five years to practice and speak his English," said Wool.

Poppen said that during his captivity, Bergdahl had no control over any aspect of his life, including what and when he could eat. "So one of the concepts is to get him a sense of predictability and control of his environment," he said.

Army officials briefed the media at a golf course near Fort Sam Houston and said no reporters would be allowed onto the base or in the hospital. Officials have kept a lid on details of Bergdahl's condition out of concern that he not be rushed back into the public spotlight.

The Idaho native was captured in Afghanistan in June 2009 and released by the Taliban on May 31 in a deal struck by the Obama administration in which five senior Taliban officials were released from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and flown to the Gulf emirate of Qatar.

Bergdahl had been at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany since June 1.

The Army has not formally begun a new review into the circumstances of Bergdahl's capture and whether he walked away without leave from his post or was deserting the Army when he was found and taken by insurgents in Afghanistan.

The answers to those questions will be key to whether Bergdahl will receive more than $300,000 in back pay owed to him since he disappeared. If he was determined to have been a prisoner of war, he also could receive roughly another $300,000 or more.

Before his departure from Germany on Thursday, officials in Washington said Bergdahl would not receive the automatic Army promotion that would have taken effect this month if he were still in captivity. Now that he is back in U.S. military control, any promotions would depend on his performance and achievement of certain training and education milestones.

Many have criticized the Obama administration for agreeing to release five Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl. Some of Bergdahl's former Army colleagues have accused him of deserting his post.

Critics also have said the five Taliban members could return to the battlefield. Administration officials have told Congress that four of the five Taliban officials likely will rejoin the fight. Qatar has agreed to keep the five inside the Gulf state for a year.

___

Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

___

Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • July 1, 2012 - 120701  -   Canada Day fireworks at The Forks from the Norwood Bridge Sunday, July 1, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What should the city do with the 102-year-old Arlington Street bridge?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google