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American POWs Released

Aired April 13, 2003 - 09:06   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: This is certainly a fast-breaking story, as you might imagine. We have some new developments right now coming to us from the Pentagon. Patty Davis is standing by with that.
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, a new statement out by U.S. Central Command. Basically confirming Bob's information, seven American service members. This -- this goes...

COLLINS: Here you go...

DAVIS: ... found by coalition forces today in the vicinity of Samarra. Now, the identities are being withheld at this time according to that statement...

COLLINS: Patty, can you hear me? Patty Davis, can you hear me?


COLLINS: I just want to make sure you know, we are feeding in some pictures right now over your interview or over your speaking. These are pictures that have come to us from Bob Franken. I would imagine these were shot as those service members were being loaded onto the C-130 from the vehicle that they were brought to that tarmac on. These are exclusive to CNN. Just want to make sure you know what we are showing as you're speaking to us, Patty.

DAVIS: Well, U.S. Central Command not identifying any of these U.S. service members at this time. They say that also they're not confirming whether these were the seven prisoners of war or the six U.S. service members who were missing in action. As you recall, five of those prisoners of war were taken with Jessica Lynch March 23 from the 507th Maintenance Unit in southern Iraq near Nasiriyah. They took a wrong turn and were ambushed.

Also, the next day then two Apache pilots were taken from their downed helicopter. Now, the six missing happened -- they were missing in events March 23 through April 6.

Now, the mood here at the Pentagon, obviously elated. Very happy. One Pentagon spokeswoman saying, though, we have to remain cautious as things are still going on in Iraq. It still remains a very dangerous place. And, of course, U.S. and coalition troops still operating there.

Now, the process works like this. According to a Pentagon spokeswoman, the whole process, basically the appropriate forces go ahead and tell the next of kin what has happened, that they have found their U.S. service member. At that point then, when everybody has been notified, they will start notifying the press. But I'm told that that could take some time -- Heidi.

COLLINS: And Patty, we are -- I just want to remind everyone what we are looking at now. Some amazing pictures coming into to us from CNN's Bob Franken. These are exclusive to CNN. Just want to let you know what those are. Obviously looked like first aid symbol there, standard field ambulances, in the area of where those seven service members were taken and put on a C-130 flown back to Kuwait, we believe, and they are going to be debriefed and checked for what medical attention they might need at this time. All right.

Patty Davis, thanks so much for your update from the Pentagon -- Leon.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Now, we are going to try to see if we can back these pictures up. Back up this series of pictures here. These have all been fed in by videophone, which explains why they're sort of pixilated there. And I believe that the pixilation will prevent us from being able to identify any of these troops that are being loaded on, at least facially.

We're joined now here, who's also sitting here-- and he's been watching these pictures as they've been coming in, Major General Don Shepperd, our military analyst. Can you explain to us what's going on here?

MAJ. GEN. DONALD SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, basically as Bob said, these folks have been transported from a place where they were rescued to a, quote, "secret location," a Marine base, in the vicinity of south of Baghdad, let's put it that way. They were picked up by Marine ambulances and taken by those ambulances to an awaiting C-130 and flown to Kuwait where they can receive extensive medical treatment. Now, on all of the helicopters and on all of the ambulances, there are EMTs and medical personnel who can give them emergency medical treatment if required. It does not appear that that was required, because all of them were ambulatory, five in good shape, and two of them with obvious injuries, so this looks like good news all the way around, Leon.

HARRIS: OK. Can you identify -- sure you can identify this helicopter.

SHEPPERD: That's CH-46 helicopter, standard transport helicopter.

HARRIS: Standard transport helicopter, which is what Bob Franken said that they were flown into this air base that he is located at right now.

SHEPPERD: You bet.

HARRIS: And from there, they went out on a C-130 on their way to Kuwait. Now, this -- we've heard this term mentioned, this decompression. Is that process beginning right now for them? SHEPPERD: Indeed. I've got many buddies and squadron mates, class mates that were POWs, and basically they all say the same thing. The emotions are -- it's a significant emotional experience. There is joy and elation at being freed. There is also guilt of leaving buddies behind. Could I have done better? Did I do the right thing? And it just takes time to decompress and those things are well-known, well practiced, and they'll be given a lot of help as they recover from this, both their wounds and psychological trauma.

HARRIS: I don't think anyone could possibly even, unless they've been through it, I don't think there is any way to describe what the emotions must be like in a situation like this.

SHEPPERD: I have known some of the bravest men I have ever known in my life say that they were scared to death. And I think that's a natural reaction. I know I would be, Leon.

HARRIS: Yeah. As a matter of fact, we saw the video, weeks ago, of those members of the 507th who actually were held captive in Iraq when we saw those pictures of them on Iraqi TV, and they looked terrified. And we're not saying -- we don't know for sure yet if these happen to be the same people, but we can imagine how those people must feel because we've actually seen what they were going through and what they feel like.

SHEPPERD: Yeah. You're totally helpless, you are probably being mistreated, you are being beat up, at least in the initial stages there. Clearly you're terrified. And again, everyone says the same thing about it, it's a terrible, terrible experience.

HARRIS: Let me ask you this, in a POW situation like this, once they've been recovered and they've been held captive for a few weeks like this, the fight is definitely over for them. They'll see no more action, correct?

SHEPPERD: Well, I can tell you this, they'll run the full range of emotions. Some of them will say, get me back to the homeland, I want a malt and a hamburger, another will say, give me my uniform. I want to go back with my buddies. It will be the full scale.

HARRIS: What would you do in the case of one that wants to go back? And we've been talking about this for a couple of weeks now. And almost always you hear a couple or one person say they feel guilt for having left there their comrades and those that they've actually sweated and almost died with, and they want to go back and rejoin them. Would it be healthier to not let them do that?

SHEPPERD: Well, you will look them in the eye and you will say, son or daughter, we understand your emotions, you're not going back to the fight. You're going home.

HARRIS: Have you ever had -- I'm sure you've had to have at least a couple of conversations with POWs after they've been released. How soon from one's release have you, yourself personally, been able to sit down and talk with them? SHEPPERD: It kind of runs the full gamut. Basically I've talked to people that have been released as POWs very, very quickly after their release. They're all cogent, they're all really wanting to talk. But again, it's kind of the full range. They're really dealing in their mind with going over this trauma time and time and time again. Could I have done better? Is there any information I've forgotten I could pass along? So it's just a significant trauma experience that you really need help getting through it.

HARRIS: Yes, and we also want to help the families who are waiting for more news about their loved ones, we want to help them get through all this too. So the minute we get some more news, we'll come back with more on that. General Shepperd, thank you very much. We'll get back to you in just a bit. You stand by -- Heidi.

COLLINS: We have another element to add to this story this morning. Right now we have Matthew Fisher on the line. He's with "Canada's National Post." He is near Tikrit. Most interestingly, he is with the unit that was involved in this entire ordeal. They were the actually the unit that the servicemen were handed over to. So we want to hear what you have to say. Matthew, what can you tell us?

MATTHEW FISHER, NATIONAL POST: The Marines that found the prisoners were from D Company of the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion from 29 Palms, California, and they were guarding -- screening for the attack on Tikrit and they've gone into the town of Samarra, and on the outskirts of a traffic circle by a dam over the river Tigris, a man approached them, a policeman, and he said to them, you've come to get the prisoners?

The Marines did not know anything what he was talking about, but he said he had Americans there and that he had had nothing to do with it. The Marines from Delta Company went to a building, found the seven Americans, two of them have been wounded. There was a man with his right arm in a sling. A woman with her left ankle bandaged. And she apparently had been shot on two different occasions, according to General John Kelly (ph), who is the commander of Task Force EEE who is in the town of Tikrit today, where they're just launching in the last half hour the major battle for Tikrit right from the location that I'm at.

And they -- the people were in relatively good health. They cried when they were met by the Marines. Tears of joy. They were immediately surrounded by the Marines, so that the Marines would -- could give them the feeling, I was told, that they wouldn't be abandoned. They were wearing pajama-like clothing. The woman was wearing a Hawaiian style outfit apparently, white and purple. The Marines gave them jump-suits, something like what fighter pilots wear, but it's what the crew commanders in light armored vehicles and tanks wear in the Marine Corps. They were allowed to change and then taken to helicopters. The prisoners, or I should say the former prisoners, expressed extreme joy. The Marines, of course, were equally jubilant, and I gather one of the American POWs said, it is so good to be back with Americans.

COLLINS: Matthew, if you can back up for me just for a moment. Was there any sort of struggle whatsoever? I mean, they were just handed over to them, is that correct?

FISHER: They were just handed over. It was completely unexpected. The Marines were on a separate mission. The big final phase of the war, the push is taking place for Tikrit right now. I'm with about 300 armored vehicles that are just entering the town of Tikrit at this exact moment. Delta Company was one of those groups, but they were held back at first to guard access from roads on the side. They went to the town of Samarra. It's a holy city, there's a gold dome there, the tallest minaret in the Arab world for hundreds and hundreds of years, although that's no longer the case, and by accident, a man just approached them in the street and said, this is where they are. There was no fight whatsoever. The man who was guarding the prisoners, according to Brigadier General John Kelly (ph), he told me a few minutes ago, the man guarding them said we knew you were 160 kilometers away, so we thought we had a few more days to hold them here.

But the Marines pushed overnight. I'm traveling with the Marines. They went all night and there was this huge jump forward for this surprise attack, and that is how they surprised the prisoners, or I presume they would have been moved further north into the last little pieces of land that are still controlled by forces loyal to Saddam Hussein.

COLLINS: Now, Matthew, you said this was a policeman, is that right?

FISHER: Yes. I was told by one of the Marines that it was a policeman who approached them and said, you have come for the prisoners of war. He believed they were there for the prisoners of war, that that's the reason that this company, this platoon of light armored reconnaissance vehicles, had come into the town of Samarra.

That's not why they were there. It was completely unexpected. But of course they took immediate advantage of their good fortune. They have -- they have given first aid and primary medical care to the two wounded. The others were described as skinny, but they've grown beards during their captivity. When they were released, of course, they were extremely happy. They went to a helicopter station, temporary one that had been set up a few kilometers, a few miles south of where they were taken or rescued, and then they were flown out on Army medivac helicopters.

COLLINS: Any idea, Matthew, how long all of that took? It sounds like it was lightning speed.

FISHER: It was lightning speed. They were there on another mission, and literally, the prisoners were 50 or 100 yards away. I don't know exactly, but awfully close. They didn't have to drive anywhere. As I say it was at a traffic circle by a dam, that's damming part of the Tigris river. They immediately went, got the prisoners. There was, as I say, tears of joy. The prisoners were extremely happy. And they got them a change of clothes.

One of them said we didn't want to shame them by having to wear these sort of tawdry or dilapidated pajama-like things that they had on. They put them in Marine Corps clothing. There were a few jokes about that, because these are all Marines and the people that they're clothing are all Army, but they were whisked away and it was indeed an Army helicopter that took them south. I don't know where they went, but it's to a U.S. ...

COLLINS: All right, Matthew, I need to interrupt you for just one second, Matthew if I could. I just want to let our viewers know that we are getting some more new video here. This is exclusive to CNN. These are some pictures from when these seven servicemen were then taken from where you are to -- they landed here on a helicopter and they were taken by ambulance over to a C-130 and then flown out from there. We are waiting to get more information as you might imagine. Just want to make sure we let our viewers know what we're looking at here. Finally, I just want to ask you, Matthew, what happened then with the rest of D Company? Did this immediately become then their mission and then did they all stay with the servicemen or did they go on?

FISHER: No. The mission that is taking place is too important. And what happened was they immediately detached from the -- I could hear over the radio the traffic was, get north as fast as you can. Please deal with this as fast as you can. They are now all literally in the attack. Their vehicles have left, and the battle for Tikrit has begun with these about 250 armored vehicles entering the town and at the same time, other forces are taking the airport.

At this time, they expect to fight, they expect there at least 2,500 thousand fighters in the town. They killed five tanks that were moving. Most of the tanks that have been killed so far in the war, they were abandoned. But these tanks were moving. They were manned this morning, a couple of kilometers from where I'm standing in Tikrit. I'm on a hill near where I might overlook the town, but I can't go forward unfortunately. And they also -- Marines ran into a group of Iraqi infantry today. There was a fierce firefight and they killed at least 15 of them.

All this information, by the way, according to Brigadier General John Kelly (ph), who is the commander of task force EEE. That is the name that is being given to what the Marines hope is the last battle in Iraq. It may or may not, of course, be a major one, but no one has surrendered yet, and it looks at this moment as if it's a big battle. They have been softening up targets all over the place all day with Cobra attack helicopters, and in the last few minutes, a great number of Cobra attack helicopters have gone into the city and right now, as I speak, some Cobras have apparently fired their weapons are just coming out. Two are moving away from the town, and several more are moving into the town.

So the battle for Tikrit has begun. And almost all of the major forces are now moving into the town.

COLLINS: All right. Matthew Fisher from Canada's "National Post" near Tikrit this morning, telling us a little bit more about the battle that, as he says, has begun there. Now, we will continue to hear more information about that as it develops. And also, updating us on the story of the morning, seven servicemen handed over by a policeman, apparently, according to Matthew Fisher to U.S. forces. And they are now on a C-130 pending medical treatment.

HARRIS: And Matthew Fisher was actually able to flesh out a few more details to help us put some more of the mosaic in place here. Number one, he mentioned the fact that, which also clarifies something Bob Franken mentioned earlier about these folks, these troops wearing Marine T-shirts. He clarified for us that they were joking about it because they were all Army.

COLLINS: Marines have never been so happy to see Army in their life.

HARRIS: Exactly. So now we're getting more and more pieces of the puzzle coming in. We now know that these are seven Army personnel. Now, there have been questions all along this morning about which group of people we're talking about, because there has been a group of missing in action, as well as a group of POWs that the coalition has been very concerned about retrieving.

What we're hearing now, based upon what we've heard from Bob Franken and from Matthew Fisher here, that these seven personnel are definitely Army personnel. There is one African-American woman in that group. This would seem to match up with the group of POWs that are out of Fort Bliss. Now, we have not been able to get solid confirmation of that. The Pentagon has not even confirmed that for us yet, neither has CENTCOM, but what we've been doing all along this morning as you've been noticing here is we've been playing this exclusive video...

COLLINS: I want to let you know what we're learning here, quickly as we look at these pictures. We have been able to make out some faces.

HARRIS: Exactly. That's the point I was about to get to.

COLLINS: We have just heard from Michelle Williams. She is as you see here now, David Williams' wife. We're going to pull up his picture here in a moment. There you see him. David S. Williams, chief warrant officer. We have been able to get in contact with Michelle Williams, who said she saw him and recognized him. I now, too, recognize him.


COLLINS: Here we see this other picture that we're about to pull up. You can see the resemblance there. I believe as he was getting into the back of that C-130. So this is incredible news.

HARRIS: Do we have her on the phone?

COLLINS: ... for her family, as well, I'm sure.

HARRIS: We do have Bob Franken on the phone. Let's go to Bob Franken right now. Bob Franken is at that air base about 65 miles south of Baghdad. Bob is the first one actually to lay eyes on these people and actually he's with the crew that shot these pictures -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I wanted to just give you some embellishments of what was reported. Of course, we've been watching as they got off their two helicopters from where they were picked up and brought to this base where we are. You just described it as about 65 miles south of Baghdad, and they've been taken here, from here to a base in Kuwait.

Now, they are investigating to see if, in fact, these seven are the missing members of the 507th maintenance group that was lost near Nasiriyah and the two missing Apache pilots. They're investigating to see if that, in fact, is the case.

Now, what they are saying is that the officers in the units that were holding these seven deserted. Of course, there's been an awful lot of that as this war has progressed. The junior members of that unit decided that they would take their prisoners with the. They saw a Marine unit going up the road toward Tikrit, which of course is the sight of a battle that's going on.

This particular unit was going to be one of the blocking units, that is to say, to make sure that nothing came from the back. The Iraqis surrendered to the Marine unit, turned over the prisoners, and, of course, were taken into custody themselves. We are being told that the Iraqis, we don't have a number on them are at this moment being briefed by intelligence forces, debriefed to see if they can give them any further information.

Officials here say that every time they go out, they check suspected sites of POWs and MIAs. But in this particular case, the POWs came to them. Of course they're elated. As you watched when they got off the plane, greeted with applause. They were enthusiastic. Five of them were very mobile, literally sprinting to the vehicle that was going to transport them to their plane, raising their fists in the air. There were two others who had injuries, who were injured, but were mobile themselves, obviously not in a life- threatening situation. And they have been taken, all of them taken to Kuwait where they, of course, will receive more medical attention and, of course, get much more extensive briefings.

It's a very happy moment here. The Marines who were brought to the airfield at this location were applauding as the rescued POWs went past. They're very, very proud here as you might imagine.

HARRIS: OK, Bob, thanks much, Bob. We appreciate that. We want to get right now to someone who might be able to help us out with more identifications here. And she's got to be happy about what they're seeing right now. Joining us now on the telephone is Ronald Young Sr. Ronald Young Sr. has a son who is among the POWs there. One of those that you see there, the picture there of Ronald Young Jr., chief warrant officer with the 507th. Mr. Young, are you there?

RONALD YOUNG SR., FATHER OF APACHE PILOT: Yes. HARRIS: What do you think about what you've seen so far?

R. YOUNG: Well, I'll tell you what, I'm just ecstatic over what I see. Ron was an Apache pilot. Of course, he went down, you know, and he was missing in action, and I was scared to death when that took place, and now he's been recovered. I can't think of a happier day in my life, other than when he was born.

HARRIS: Have you been contacted at all by the military?

R. YOUNG: Not yet. We haven't been contacted by them yet as a confirmation. You know, we can see and it's him.

HARRIS: OK. We're happy to be able to provide you this opportunity to get the news right now.

R. YOUNG: Right.

HARRIS: We were trying to be respectful and we were waiting for the Pentagon to notify you all first, but we're more than happy to jump the gun on this one here. What exactly -- how did you find out?

R. YOUNG: Well, my daughter-in-law called me and said that there was going to be some late-breaking news on the prisoners of war, and then, you know, then I had a couple of calls from other people and I went ahead and turned the TV on and told my wife they were fixing to come out with something. And then I heard that it was maybe it was the MIAs rather than POWs. However, you know, it turned out it was them. I mean, you know, I identified him and David, the guy that he flies with. So it's them. I mean, you know, and I'm just ecstatic. I mean, I really am.

HARRIS: Let's see if we can keep playing these pictures. And when his face pops up, I want you to yell.

R. YOUNG: OK. He has got a blue set of looks like pajamas on.

HARRIS: OK. Let's go ahead and roll -- is that him?

R. YOUNG: That's him.

HARRIS: Now, I understand mom is on the phone too. Kay, are you there?


HARRIS: How do you feel?

K. YOUNG: Oh, I am so excited. I just called my mother in the hospital. She's in the hospital in Augusta, and was able to talk with her and she finally found the pictures on the TV and she's excited. We're all crying and just -- we're thrilled to death, of course.

HARRIS: I'm sure.

K. YOUNG: And he looks so good. He is just -- I mean he's running.

HARRIS: Were you -- now -- how were you expecting him to look?

K. YOUNG: I don't know. You know, I was hoping he wasn't on a stretcher. But I was just -- I don't know. I didn't expect him to be running. It is him. It is him.

HARRIS: How about you, dad? What were you expecting?

R. YOUNG: Well, I would have thought maybe he would have a limp. I don't know why, in the back of my mind I could see him limping or something and I don't know why I thought that. But when I saw him, he's got a little bit of a beard and it was kind of hard to recognize him at first, but that is definitely him and I'm just as happy as I can be.

HARRIS: Based upon what we've been seeing and hearing with our reporters, it may be dirt.

R. YOUNG: It might be. It could be.

HARRIS: They've been through quite a bit. What have you been going through as you've been waiting for any news at all?


R. YOUNG: I've kept myself...


R. YOUNG: You know, everything was going to turn out all right. I has tried to maintain that frame of mind -- mind frame and that feeling, but sometimes, you know, you just wonder. And the wondering and the not knowing just eats you alive.

HARRIS: I don't know how to ask you this, but Kay, this has been toughest on which one of you, do you think?

K. YOUNG: I have had (UNINTELLIGIBLE) some of that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for me, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) prayers, and I have just been peaceful through this whole thing. That's not to say that I don't have a little anxiety once in a while and I'm not worried, but I have just not been able to just -- as upset probably as Ronnie has, because for some reason I just had a peace about me. But Ronnie is much more, he's a worrier and he has probably been more upset.

HARRIS: Would you agree with that, dad?

R. YOUNG: Yes, sir, I probably would agree with that. This is something that stays on your mind constantly. It's not something you kind of put off and think about something else. And even when I did start thinking about something else, I would kind of get the feeling that I shouldn't be, you know. I felt kind of like I should be focused completely on him and almost felt like it was something I really shouldn't be doing, I guess. I don't know. But it's him and I'm so happy. I could just jump up and down and kiss the world. Like I said -- the Lord has been good to us, I mean, it really has. From this point, I just -- I can't say enough about it. The people have been so good to us and had so support and I think, just like I said before, I think that's what brought them through is the prayers and all the people together and the support that they had, and I mean (UNINTELLIGIBLE) terrific.


HARRIS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) good sense of that. Now, I want to ask you something, I heard a phone ringing back there. I want to make sure that we're not going to be blocking the line here.

R. YOUNG: No, you're not. We got two lines coming in.

HARRIS: That's great, because you're going need one, because no doubt you're going to be getting a phone call sometime fairly soon from the Pentagon or from some military sources.

R. YOUNG: Yes, that's definitely him. It's him.

HARRIS: Do you have any idea what you'll do next?

R. YOUNG: I don't know. Whatever he wants to do. That's what I (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


R. YOUNG: I would like for him to just do whatever he wants to do next.

HARRIS: Are you going to be flying out of here? Are you going to go to try to meet him, do you think?

R. YOUNG: Well, I don't know. I've had some guy call us that works for Delta and he said he has some buddy passes and we could get passes to go to Germany if he wanted to go over there. So I might try to do that. We can work it out.

K. YOUNG: You can't keep that line blocked, because that's not (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

R. YOUNG: Right now, I just don't really know. I mean, it's the first thing up now. The main thing to me is not seeing him right away, the main thing is knowing he is all right.

HARRIS: That's got to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

R. YOUNG: Oh, it's relief. You just don't know how much of a relief it is.

COLLINS: Mr. Young, Heidi Collins here. We certainly don't have any idea what a relief it is, but it's wonderful to hear you so happy. That is for certain. R. YOUNG: Oh, man, you just don't know. And, you know, I rode with an engineer last night, Gus Vasquez (ph), a friend of mine, and he was crying half the time we were riding, you know, and we were back and forth talking about this and it was an emotional deal. He just told me at one point, he says you've got to keep that faith, you just to hang on to that faith as much as you can, and just, you know, the Lord is going to do what you want him to do. You got to expect it. And I said, you're right. I said, it's getting down in the dumps is not really working. And so really, I just from that point on I said there's got to be something that's going to turn out right.

COLLINS: Mr. Young, had you had any conversations with Ron before he left and went on this deployment about the possibility of this happening? If so...

R. YOUNG: No, ma'am.

COLLINS: There was no discussion at all?

R. YOUNG: No, ma'am. I never -- I really never thought that he would be faced with a thing like this. You know, he was so positive about what he was doing, flying those Apaches. He made it sound like if it was just as safe as driving a car down the road. But of course we know it's not. But he said they're so advanced technologically that it was just going to be one of those kind of wars that they weren't going to lose anybody, it sounded like, you know. It sounded like -- but it didn't start out that way, and it did turn around and ended up that way, but it didn't start out that way at first, and I think some of the tactics might have been a little bit messed up. I don't know. I mean I don't know.

COLLINS: I'm sure that we'll get the full story when Ronald returns home. Do you have a chance to speak by any chance, I know this is quite early on, but we have also heard from the other pilot, David Williams, I'm not sure how well you know him, but...

R. YOUNG: I've met David.

COLLINS: We've heard from his wife, Michelle, who says that she, too, recognizes David in these photos that we are seeing. So you've not had a chance to speak with them?

R. YOUNG: Well, I've talked to her, but not to any great extent. She's real busy on the phone too. I called her and told her I saw David on the picture and she said she'd already seen it. So I just wanted to let her know that I had noticed him. I mean, we had recognized him in there. So everything is just, you know, this is just like the greatest thing in the world right here for me. It's almost like Christmas, New Year's and everything rolled into one.

COLLINS: Everything rolled into one. What are you going to say to him when you see him?

R. YOUNG: I think I might tell him to -- think about going into another career. But, you know, I shouldn't say that, but I tell you what, this has been such a nerve-wracking, tense thing for me that I hate to have to go through this again.

HARRIS: I want to hear from Kay. Kay's been back there working the phones. I want to hear what she has to say.

K. YOUNG: I'm sorry, I didn't know you could hear everything I was saying.

HARRIS: No, listen, but we try. We're trying to listen in.

K. YOUNG: I'm sorry. I don't know what I've been saying. Forget it. I wanted to tell you Michelle Williams just call me and she told me that, you know, it's been confirmed that it is him. Of course, we can see him on television and that she has received a call, so anyway, we know it's him and it's been confirmed.

COLLINS: I'm sorry, Kay. You say that she has received a call from the Pentagon?

K. YOUNG: No, no. She just sees the pictures and she knows it's her husband.


K. YOUNG: We know it's our son, so that's all we need.

HARRIS: We've got to get her on the phone next. Well, Kay, who else have you been talking with?

K. YOUNG: I've been talking with my mother, with friends. This phone has been ringing. We've got two lines in here and about three cell phones going and it has been ringing off the hook since about 6:00 this morning.

HARRIS: Can you tell us what they've been saying?

K. YOUNG: Well, just wanting to know if that could be them. And of course, we were up and down and up and down and we decided we were going to be happy whoever it was. But this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) came over and we all knelt in our living room floor and we all put our arms around each other and she said a prayer, and it wasn't very long after that that we started hearing things. So we just, you know, we felt like it was him. We're just very excited.

HARRIS: I know this is a bit early to be asking questions like this, but I can't help but wonder, how does something like this change you from here on out, do you think?

K. YOUNG: Well, you know, I have seen things on television, I would think about writing someone or calling them or I would pray for them, but I would probably be a lot more apt to pick up the phone and actually call somebody or send them something, because I know what it means now. I just can't express how much everybody's thoughtfulness has meant to us. And I don't know if we would have made it without it. I can't tell you what that has meant.

HARRIS: How about for you, Ron? R. YOUNG: Same thing. I really feel like, you know, like I said before, the support from all the people has been just the thing that's lifted me up. I mean, it really has. We've had support from, you know, the governor's called and all the officials from the State Senate has had a resolution made in his honor, and, you know, passed in his honor. So many things have been done. So many things have been done to rally the people around and give such support to this. I just felt like there's so many people -- I even had a Catholic priest call me from Connecticut, said he's had him in his masses every day and he said he's first thing that he prays for after he prays for his family. And it's just all these things, I rally think has sustained us and has really brought them home, that's what I feel like. And as far as changing me, I have got a lot more faith I think than I ever had before.

HARRIS: How about your son, let me ask you this, because we've been talking off and on about how various people who have had to live through and endure what he's been through, sometimes feel as though they want to get right back into it again, they want to go right back and rejoin their buddies. What do you think he would want to do?

R. YOUNG: I don't know. From this point, I don't know how he's been treated, don't know how he feels about this situation, so I think that's better a question left to him.

HARRIS: Yeah. We sure would like to ask him.

R. YOUNG: You'll get a chance. I guarantee you.

HARRIS: Well, we're certainly happy to be able to share in this very happy moment with you and your family.

R. YOUNG: Oh, thanks so much.

COLLINS: And I want to let you know real quickly before we let you go that CNN has just been told that President Bush does know that Americans have been found and have been taken into custody, in safe custody. We just want to let you know that. We are going to find out more about it right now.


COLLINS: So Mr. Ronald Young Sr. and Kay Young, we certainly appreciate your time this morning.

HARRIS: All the best to you.

COLLINS: Very happy for you.

K. YOUNG: Thank you.

R. YOUNG: You're quite welcome. Thank you for calling.

COLLINS: All right, thanks again to both of you.


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