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WORLD
Iraq Transition

Wounded ABC journalists arrive in U.S.

Both to be treated at esteemed U.S. Navy hospital

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Military personnel at Andrews Air Force Base load a wounded person onto an ambulance.

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LANDSTUHL, Germany (CNN) -- After two days in a German hospital, ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and video journalist Doug Vogt arrived Tuesday in Bethesda, Maryland, to be treated for injuries they received in an explosion in Iraq.

Woodruff, 44, and Vogt, 46, arrived at Andrews Air Force Base about 4:30 p.m. along with 28 other patients, only 13 of whom walked off the plane.

Woodruff and Vogt were taken to the nearby brain injury center at the National Naval Medical Center.

Woodruff, Vogt and 28 members of the U.S. military were accompanied on the trip by a critical care air transport team -- a doctor, a nurse and a respiratory technician -- on a military plane that is essentially a flying intensive care unit.

The two were "making good progress" Tuesday, and were stable enough to travel back to the United States, said Marie Shaw, a spokeswoman for the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

"The chances of total recovery are good," she said, "But it will take a long time."

Shaw said the swelling in Woodruff's brain hasn't worsened, and the two underwent further surgery Monday to clean up their wounds.

Woodruff and Vogt received serious head wounds Sunday in the roadside blast north of Baghdad. They were flown to Germany on Monday morning for treatment.

Woodruff, who was also wounded by shrapnel, responded to stimuli in his hands and feet, and briefly opened his eyes. Vogt was alert and joking, the network reported Monday.

Dave Woodruff told ABC that his brother -- who was named co-anchor of ABC's "World News Tonight" in December -- had been getting "first-class care" at the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl.

"We think he's going to recover eventually," he told ABC. "It's going to be a long road, but I think he's a strong guy, and he's going to make it."

Vogt's shoulder was broken in the bombing, which took place while the two were riding in an Iraqi armored personnel carrier. The vehicle was at the head of a U.S. and Iraqi convoy near Taji, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Baghdad, ABC said.

ABC White House correspondent Martha Raddatz said officials are most concerned about the men's head injuries, which she described as "similar to blunt-trauma injuries."

"They certainly got some shrapnel wounds, but those were not life-threatening," she said. "The problem here is brain swelling, and again, it's very similar to an impact injury. And they've got to watch the brain swelling for the next few days."

She said Woodruff, Vogt and two ABC crew members were traveling in a convoy of eight vehicles -- six of them U.S. Humvees with additional armor; the other two Iraqi armored vehicles.

The four ABC journalists had been traveling in the U.S. vehicles but decided to move forward into the Iraqi vehicles "to get the perspective of the Iraqis," she said.

"Bob and Doug were up in the hatch," Raddatz said. "That's when the vehicle hit an improvised explosive device."

The convoy, she said, was outfitted with jamming equipment designed to detonate wireless bombs, but it is believed the bomb was hard-wired and went off when the vehicle struck it.

The blast was followed by small-arms fire from three directions, ABC said. An Iraqi soldier was also wounded in the attack, Iraqi officials said.

Last month, Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas were named to replace the late Peter Jennings as "World News Tonight" anchors. They started the job this month. (Full story)

Woodruff, an attorney and former law professor, began his career in journalism as a translator for CBS News in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he was embedded with Marines on the front lines.

"We want to see him recover and return to what he wants to do," his brother said. "Maybe not back to Iraq, but certainly I think he'll want to get back to what he's always wanted to do."

Vogt has been with ABC News for 15 years and has covered such global hot spots as Bosnia, Gaza and Iran.

Reporting from the Iraqi war zone is a dangerous proposition. According to Reporters Without Borders, 79 journalists and news assistants have been killed in Iraq since the United States invaded in March 2003.

The organization said 35 news media workers have been abducted since the war's start. They include Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor who appeared Monday appealing for her release in a video broadcast by Al-Jazeera. (Full story)

CNN's Chris Burns contributed to this report.

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