Friends and family of an Idaho soldier who was captured in Afghanistan prayed for his safe return Sunday – the day after a Taliban video posted online showed him expressing doubt as to whether he'd ever be able to see his family again.
"We hope and pray for our son's safe return to his comrades and then to our family, and we appreciate all the support and expressions of sympathy shown to us by our family members, our friends and others across the nation," said the father of Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl in a statement issued through the Department of Defense. "Thank you, and please continue to keep Bowe in your thoughts and prayers."
Bergdahl, 23, was serving with an Alaska-based infantry regiment when he vanished earlier this month, just five months after arriving in Afghanistan.
Though the Taliban video was not posted online until Saturday, some in his hometown had known for the past two weeks that Bergdahl had been captured but kept it quiet out of fear that publicity would compromise his safety.
A message in the Facebook page of Zaney's River Street Coffee House, where Bergdahl once worked, asked "fans" to join in "holding light for Bowe Bergdahl."
The coffee shop's owner, Sue Martin, had also installed a sign on the front counter urging people to keep "Our friend who has been captured in Afghanistan" in their thoughts and prayers.
She later removed the sign, partly out of concern that the Bergdahls were against it, but returned it after speaking with the family – this time with Bergdahl's full name. Martin also added a large yellow placard taped to the front window that reads "Get Bowe Back."
On Sunday, congregants at St. John's Cathedral in Boise – including Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter – prayed for Bergdahl, who said in Saturday's 28-minute video that he was "scared I won't be able to go home."
In the video, Bergdahl appears in good health and is shown drinking tea and eating bread and rice.
He also says it "is very unnerving to be a prisoner" and that he misses his family every day.
"I have my girlfriend who I'm hoping to marry. I have my grandma and grandpas. I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America," he states.
"I miss them and I'm afraid that I might never see them again and that I'll never be able to tell them that I love them again. I'll never be able to hug them," he adds.
In the video, Bergdahl reports the date as July 14, and backs the statement by repeatedly referring to an exaggerated Taliban claim about a Ukrainian helicopter that was shot down that day.
According to Pentagon spokesman Colonel Greg Julian, the U.S. government is "doing everything we can to return this soldier to safety."