Family of Idaho POW helps launch balloon

Credit: Theresa Palmgren / KTVB

John Hamilton, National Commander in Chief for Veterans of Foreign Wars

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 23 at 8:49 AM

BOISE -- The Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic featured a very special event on Friday meant to honor the United States Military, along with the family of captured Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

That's because a giant POW-MIA balloon was launched into the air commemorating those military members past and present who have fought for their country.

While there's something about hot air balloons that makes people stop in their tracks and just watch, what happened Friday morning not only made people stop, but it made them think and remember as well.

That's because it takes an entire team to get a balloon inflated and off the ground.

Part of Friday's team that prepped the POW-MIA was Bob and Jani Bergdahl, the parents of captured Idaho soldier Bowe Bergdahl. The Bergdahl's chose not to talk to KTVB on camera, but they told us they were present to support the mission of the POW-MIA balloon, which is named 'Freedom Flight'.

The pilot of Freedom Flight was proud to be there with the Bergdahl's.

"It's our goal to educate everybody, to let them know that there are still people out there missing," said Luke Cesnik, the pilot of Freedom Flight. "We want them brought home or we want some closure on it.”

Bringing Bowe Bergdahl home is what Bob and Jani were thinking about as they helped inflate the balloon.

Cesnik said it meant a lot to him to have the Bergdahl’s as a part of his crew on Friday. “The only thing is -- I wanted him here to go for the ride today," said Cesnik.

Also in the field today was John Hamilton, National Commander in Chief for Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"We make a commitment to our servicemen and women that regardless, we'll bring you home, and that's very important to us as service people," said Hamilton.

He and other folks with military ties met with the Bergdahl's last night.

"They thanked us for our concerned for the work we've done on the MIA-POW issues over the years, and to keep their son in our thoughts and prayers and keep it before the public, and that's what we intend to do," said Hamilton.

Hamilton says his meeting with the Bergdahl’s was intense. "Obviously it's their son, their child. They're concerned about his well being and they want him home as do we," said Hamilton.

When the POW-MIA balloon finally took flight, Cesnik and two members of the military ducked-down in the basket to symbolize the 80,000 Americans military members who are still missing in action.

"Less than one-percent of the people of this nation keep us free and safe," Hamilton said. "We owe them a great debt. We owe them thought and a prayer on a daily basis. They keep us safe. They keep us free."

The Bergdahl's chose not to fly in the POW-MIA balloon today. They say they're saving that flight for their son Bowe when he's liberated, and comes home.

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