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Former U.S. POWs arrive in Germany

Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson was carried off an Air Force C-141 aircraft Wednesday.
Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson was carried off an Air Force C-141 aircraft Wednesday.

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Seven former prisoners of war arrive at Ramstein Air Base, Germany
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POW Profile: Edgar Hernandez 
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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (CNN) -- Seven U.S. soldiers held as Iraqi prisoners of war left the Middle East and arrived in Germany late Wednesday for treatment at a U.S. military hospital.

A U.S. Air Force C-141 cargo plane, specially adapted to carry injured passengers, landed around 10:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. EDT) with 48 people aboard, 19 of whom suffer combat injuries. They were expected to be taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for treatment and counseling.

Six of the seven former prisoners walked swiftly off the plane, dressed in desert fatigues, and shook the hand of the air base commander, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel. They waved to news media cameras, then boarded a bus.

The seventh former POW, Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 30, was carried off the plane in a stretcher and lifted into the back of the bus. Lessel said a few words to her, inaudible to the media, and she flashed a broad smile.

Watching Johnson's arrival on television was her friend Theresa Rowland, who said they had spoken by phone Tuesday night. "She told me she could hardly wait to see me," Rowland said. "She wants me to come see her as soon as I can."

Officials also loaded an acoustic guitar onto the bus; Chief Warrant Officer Ronald Young Jr.'s mom said it belonged to her son. "I just bet they're too excited to play," Kaye Young said with a laugh.

She added that -- in her most recent conversation with her son, 26, on Sunday night -- he sounded good and was joking on the phone. "He told us that he had lost 20 pounds and he just was very friendly, very affectionate, that he couldn't wait to see us, that he loves us, he misses us," Young said.

Pfc. Patrick Miller, 23, also a former POW, flashed a "V" sign with his hand as the bus drove away.

Officials at Landstuhl said they are particularly concerned about Johnson, who suffered bullet wounds in both feet. Officials said she may require further surgery.

The seven former POWs had been resting and undergoing medical checks at an undisclosed facility in Kuwait since arriving Sunday, shortly after their rescue.

The POWs were accidentally discovered that day by a group of U.S. Marines sent to Samarra, 75 miles north of Baghdad, to prevent traffic from interfering with U.S. tanks headed to battle in Tikrit. An Iraqi policeman asked the Marines if they had come for the prisoners, then led them to a nearby building where they found the POWs guarded by at least one Iraqi soldier.

In addition to Miller and Johnson, five of those rescued were members of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company: Sgt. James Riley, 31, Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23, and Spc. Edgar Hernandez, 21. Their convoy took a wrong turn and drove into an ambush near Nasiriya on March 23.

Young and Chief Warrant Officer David Williams, 30, were captured March 24 when their Apache helicopter was forced to make a hard landing in an area held by Iraqi fighters.

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