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U.S. Soldier Freed from Taliban Captivity Has Ties to Santa Ynez Valley

An Army sergeant with ties to the Santa Ynez Valley has been freed in Afghanistan after nearly five years as a Taliban prisoner.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to the U.S. military Saturday after the Obama administration released five senior Taliban commanders from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

The now-28-year-old Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, is the son of Solvang natives Jani and Bob Bergdahl, who moved to Idaho several years ago.

His maternal grandfather, the late Craig Larson, was a veterinarian who founded Solvang Veterinary Hospital and also owned San Roque Pet Hospital in Santa Barbara.

Bergdahl disappeared on June 30, 2009, after completing guard duty at a U.S. base near Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan.

According to the Los Angeles Times, after Bergdahl’s release had been negotiated, a group of Taliban fighters turned him over to several dozen U.S. special operations soldiers, backed by three helicopters and overhead drones.

The Times quoted a U.S. official as saying that Bergdahl was in good condition and able to walk.

Officials say he was taken to Bagram Airfield, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, for a medical evaluation, and would be transferred to the Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for additional care before he returns to the United States.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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