Long time Spokane resident Dale Storr remembers what its like to come home after being a prisoner of war, and said that Bowe Bergdahl has a long road to recovery ahead of him.
In 1991, Storr was an Air Force A-10 pilot who was shot down and held captive by Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard for 33 days. During his captivity he endured torture and even bombing by American warplanes. Lt. Col. Storr, who retired from the 141st Air Refueling Wing after 28 years of service in 2011, remembers the savage and brutal treatment he received at the hands of his Iraqi captors.
Throw in five years Bergdahl's been held prisoner and no one expect him to make a speedy recovery.
Storr was on his 17th mission on February 2, 1991 when his aircraft was hit during a strafing run. The strike severed the control cables of his plane as well as damaged his radio.
“Fortunately for me i ejected just in time, just before the plane hit the ground, got the chute. I landed without injuries and as soon as I was on the ground I could see the truck with the Iraqis coming to get me,” he recalled.
Storr endured routine beatings after his capture, crediting the training he received at Fairchild's Survival School for helping save his life.
“They did break my nose, my eardrum, my shoulder was dislocated, yeah there was a lot of beating going but like a said you can't train for it but you can prepare for it,” he said.
Storr said his captors lied to him about so many things and made so many false promises that simply earning Bergdahl's trust will be the first challenge for the Americans now trying to help him.
Storr spent his first week of freedom with doctors and psychologists aboard the navy hospital ship the USNS Mercy. He expects after five years in captivity Bergdahl will need a lot of treatment as well.
“You know we've got some of the best docs in the world. They are going to help him, pull him through this. It sounds like he's got a strong family and that will probably do more than anything to help get him through this, but he's got a tough road ahead,” Storr said. “He's been through hell and he's been through hell for a long time.”
Storr said while he suffered PTSD, his Spokane homecoming with friends and family helped with his recovery.
“The first thing I did when I got back, my best friend from college Ken Lundy picked me up in a Budweiser beer truck out on the flight line at Fairchild and as we were driving home, I had to stop at Taco Time for some Mexi-fries. I was craving those things, I love those things,” he said.
When Bergdahl was repatriated to American forces, he boarded a helicopter and used a paper plate to communicate because of the noise. He wrote, "SF?" meaning, "special forces?"
One of the operators sitting with Bergdahl responded loudly: "Yes, we've been looking for you for a long time," according to the official.
Recalling his own captivity, Storr said he too didn't really believe his was being released until an F-15 fighter pulled up alongside the Red Cross plane that flew him out of Baghdad.
CNN contributed to this report.