Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The two Idahos of Bowe Bergdahl

I have written about this in a prior blog post and it was reflected in another NYT story last month. Now the "two Idahos" of Bowe Bergdahl is the topic of another New York Times story, "Many Sharp Turns in Bergdahl's Path to Army."

Those "two Idahos" are Hailey, where Bowe Bergdahl grew up, home schooled by his religious parents in a cabin with no phone, and Ketchum, which along with Sun Valley, is Hailey's posh neighbor about 10 miles to the north.  Hailey is the more staid, typical rural place, Ketchum the poster child for rural gentrification.  Both are in Blaine County, population 21,329.  Kirk Johnson and Matt Furber describe the two places and Bergdahl's experiences in them thusly:    

Ketchum as a "liberal-tinctured ski resort town, where [Bergdahl] took ballet and fencing lessons, met artists and debated philosophy" and "Hailey — the worker bee colony to Ketchum’s moneyed hive."  There, Bergdahl "learned the ways of guns, became a crack shot and developed an abiding interest in the military."

Johnson and Furber continue their description of Bergdahl's upbringing:
Although his home life was strict, Sergeant Bergdahl was given a long leash by his parents to explore Idaho on foot or bike or motorcycle, and was taught to be self-sufficient. “If there’s anyone from Blaine County who could take a compass and a knife and walk off into the mountains to survive on squirrels, it was Bowe,” one friend said. 
He routinely rode his bike to various jobs, including one at the Blaine County Gun Club, a shooting range about 13 miles from his home where he loaded trap machines and cleaned up. “He was one of the better workers I’ve ever had,” said David Rosser … former president of the club. “He would put his head down and do what you told him to do. He was respectful and took orders well.”
And so journalists continue to ponder the enigma of Bowe Bergdahl.

Hailey's population is 7,960, while that for Ketchum is 2,689.  Sun Valley's population is a tightly controlled 1,406.  The poverty rate in Blaine County is a measly 8.9%.  

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