The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 22, 2013

Taliban offer adds urgency to Idaho POW rally

HAILEY, Idaho — The tearful mother of the only known U.S. prisoner of war said Saturday she's feeling "very optimistic" about his eventual release after his Taliban captors offered last week to exchange him for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's mother, Jani Bergdahl, spoke to about 2,000 people gathered in Hailey, his hometown, in a city park where he played as a toddler and little boy.

About 400 in the crowd arrived astride motorcycles, adorned in leather and patches commemorating America's military missing in action.

Bowe Bergdahl, 27, was taken prisoner in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. First Jani Bergdahl, then his father, Bob Bergdahl, who accompanied the motorcycle procession on his son's 1978 dirt bike, spoke for a combined 15 minutes about rejuvenated hopes that their son's now-four-year ordeal will soon come to a joyful close.

"We are feeling very optimistic this week," his mother, before addressing her son directly. "Bowe, we love you, we support you, and are eagerly awaiting your return home. I love you my son, as I have, from the first moment I heard of you, the never-ending, unconditional love a mother has for her child."

Buses also brought POW-MIA activists to the event from as far as Elko, Nev.

Though yellow ribbons on Main Street trees and "Bring Bowe Home" placards in Hailey shop windows are a constant reminder of the 27-year-old Bergdahl's captivity, organizers of the event said the Taliban offer has lent an addition element of urgency — and hope — to Saturday's gathering.

Many in the crowd said they were Vietnam veterans; some of them supported the proposed prisoner exchange without reservation.

"Give them their guys and get our guy home," said David Blunt, of Elko, Nev., who said he served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam as a medic. "Bring our guy home. He's suffered enough."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Poet takes his act to Las Vegas LAS VEGAS — The old poet is dressed in black, his platinum-blond hair rakishly moussed. He stands amid the hubbub, facing a stern test of his crafted words and carnival-barker delivery. The venue is a smoky lounge called Ichabod’s, east of the Strip.

    July 23, 2014

  • Minnesota race track to refund horse owners ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota race track manager says the track will refund horse owners after an audit found it shorted race purses by nearly $437,000 over four years. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (http://bit.ly/1p9mtEh ) the Running Aces

    July 23, 2014

  • Bodies of Malaysia jet victims leave Ukraine KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash left the embattled plains of eastern Ukraine Wednesday, while British investigators began work on a pair of "black boxes" to retrieve da

    July 23, 2014

  • Attorney general sues 2 Minn. colleges ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against two colleges, accusing the schools of misleading criminal justice students about their ability to land a job in their field and about transferring credits to other instit

    July 22, 2014

  • sniper wife pic Jurors start considering Ventura case ST. PAUL — An attorney for Jesse Ventura asked a federal jury Tuesday to award the former Minnesota governor millions of dollars in damages for what he claimed is a lie in a memoir by the late military sniper Chris Kyle. Ventura testified during the

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Target debuts shopping app "In a Snap" will recognize images

    July 22, 2014

  • Feds to monitor Newark police Probe found pattern of unconstitutional policing

    July 22, 2014

  • Thousands without power due to storms MCGREGOR (AP) — Thousands of Minnesotans are without electricity after powerful storms moved through central and northeastern Minnesota. Strong winds of 50 to 70 mph knocked down trees and power lines overnight Monday. Minnesota Power and Lake Count

    July 22, 2014

  • Ellison urges Minn. to aid Central American minors ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota congressman is leading efforts to bring more unaccompanied children fleeing Central America to the state. But, immigration advocates and nonprofit groups that serve refugees are concerned Minnesota might not be abl

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014