(CNN) -- With the news of a video showing their son Bowe Bergdahl is alive, his family sent out a statement they hoped his captors would let him see.
Stay strong, be patient, it said.
It's been more than four tormenting years since he was taken captive while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and there again are concerns about his well-being.
The so-called proof-of-life video that was provided to the U.S. military is the first of him in nearly three years. It has a reference to December 14, 2013.
CNN has not seen the video, but a U.S. military official told the network that the clip apparently shows the Idaho native in diminished health.
That's a picture that's hard to envision for family and friends. For them, strong has been a word often associated with Bergdahl.
In June 2009, after he was taken, CNN spoke to friends of his, including a fishing boat captain who hired Bergdahl two years earlier. Bergdahl spent 10 weeks on the vessel near Bristol Bay, Alaska, pulling in sockeye salmon for 18 to 20 hours a day.
Dan Collins said it was hard, grueling work.
"But he was up to it," Collins said. "I am at times not the easiest guy to get along with, being a fishing boat's captain. But I imagine I am easy compared to what he is dealing with every day now."
Now Bergdahl, 27, is believed to held by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Pakistan, the U.S. military official said. Bergdahl has been in captivity so long he has been promoted twice and is now a sergeant.
In Hailey, Idaho, many residents still have yellow ribbons around trees. It was there four years ago that Sue Martin, owner of Zaney's Coffee Shop spoke glowingly of her former barista.
"Bowe is not somebody in the corner," she said. "You engage, and he engages very well."
"He captures you," Martin said.
Bergdahl was a well-rounded, well-grounded young man, people told CNN.
He was a seeker, a hard worker, a man raised and home-schooled in a small town, an avid outdoorsman who did ballet.
He could talk to anyone.
He toured Europe before joining the Army.
He also didn't care for cars, choosing to ride a bicycle to and from the odd jobs he worked to pay for his travels, friends said.
And he was polite, very polite.
One rainy evening the sheriff in his Idaho community stopped to offer him a ride. Bergdahl, who was drenched and walking his bike, said he wouldn't want to get the car wet, so no thanks. And he kept walking.
"Kind of tells you a little bit about the person," recalled Walt Femling, who knew Bergdahl through renting him an apartment the sheriff owned.
"I don't usually rent to 20-year-olds," Femling said. He trusted Bergdahl.
"There's not many young people who have the kind manners he has," said neighbor Minna Casser. "He's a gentleman and a sportsman."
The Bergdahl family hasn't spoken much publicly about their son. His father, Robert Bergdahl, posted a YouTube video in May 2011 and a year later he spoke at a Memorial Day event in Washington that was attended by more than 100,000 people.
"Bowe, your family has not forgotten you, your hometown has not forgotten you. Your state of Idaho has not forgotten you, and thanks to all of you here today, Washington D.C. has not forgotten you," Robert Bergdahl told a cheering crowd.
"We love you, we are proud of you. Stay strong, never give up. We pray for the day that we welcome you home," he said.
CNN's Ed Lavandera, Paul Vercammen, Ashley Fantz and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.