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Residents of Idaho Town Describe Captured Soldier as Adventurous, Diverse
President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have said the U.S. military is doing all it can to find Bergdahl. In an interview that aired Tuesday on NBC's "Today," Obama described the video footage as "heartbreaking."
Bergdahl's relatives have not spoken to the media. They issued a statement Tuesday through Femling: "We appreciate and take comfort in all the kind words of support we've heard."
Bergdahl grew up in a modest house just west of Hailey, a pit stop for millionaires and celebrities on the way to Sun Valley. His parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, moved here years ago for the seclusion, friends said. Bowe and his older sister, Sky, were home-schooled.
"He's a strong presence, very interesting, very diverse," said Sue Martin, the owner of the coffee shop Zaney's, where Bergdahl worked for about two years. "He did take a lot of pressure for being a young man in ballet. . . . Everybody was joking with him continually about it, until the picture came out in the local paper and he was surrounded by beautiful young women, and then it became clear why Bowe went to every practice." He was the prince when the Sun Valley Ballet School put on "The Little Mermaid."
Bergdahl's capture is particularly poignant for Martin, whose son, Zane, died in a motorcycle accident six months before Bergdahl started at her shop. "I was suddenly aware that Bowe was there helping me," she said. "He shoveled pathways or swept snow off my car. That's something my son would do. It wasn't spoken, but I appreciated it."
A handwritten note on a yellow sheet of paper in Zaney's bore testimony to Bergdahl's passion for sword-fighting and medieval reenactments. "Dear Bowe, always a knight searching for what is good and true and right in the world," the note reads. "May your sword be sharp and strong to overpower fear."
Staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.