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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Families of Rescued POWs Speak Out

Aired April 13, 2003 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We have some more information coming to us from Ed Lavandera, who I believe had spoken with another family member.
Ed, what have you got?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Johnson family. Shoshana Johnson, the only female prisoner of war in the 507th Maintenance Company. I just finished talking with her sister and she says that they have gotten official word that Shoshana is one of the soldiers that has been rescued today. Amazing news for this family who've been watching this news from the early hours this morning when I started calling them just to see what was going on. And they've been glued to the television set, watching all of the developments this morning. So they say just a short while ago they got the official confirmation that Shoshana Johnson is in the custody of the U.S. military again.

COLLINS: Official news. Now, you say that comes from -- that was from the Pentagon, yes?

LAVANDERA: They were saying that they got the -- the only way they described it was that they had gotten the official word that she was OK. That's the way that they pass along demands. Quite frankly, it was a real quick phone call to pass along that information. They'd been getting hundreds of phone calls this morning, I might imagine.

COLLINS: OK, Ed, I just want to let you know what our viewers are seeing. We are looking at the official notification of the Young family right here on our screen. This is exclusive to CNN. We're looking at some very, very happy faces. This is Ron Young Senior, who you can see on the left of your screen and you can hear the screams of Kaye Young in the background there, his wife and mother of Ron Young Junior, Apache helicopter pilot.

And the C-130 that we have been talking to you about before, and we've shown you some pictures of the rest of the servicemen, have been -- we are hearing that they are going straight to Kuwait as we've been reporting. Central Command has just now confirmed that as well.

At this point, we are going to a news conference on Jessica Lynch. This is happening at Walter Reed Medical Facility. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

(OFF MIKE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm not going to prognosticate on her specific condition. I will tell you that the nature of battlefield injuries that we're seeing with soldiers that are returning from the theater is -- has a wide spectrum to it. Some of our soldiers are very seriously injured and will take a long period of time to recover. The nature of orthopedic injuries is such that many times they require repetitive surgical procedures in order to be fully recovered to prevent infection and to aid in the healing. I can't prognosticate on if and when specific issues or specific therapies will be provided for Private Lynch, but she'll get the same therapy as all of the rest of our great soldiers here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're there how long?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I have no knowledge of that at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know how her injuries occurred?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I have no information at this time on that other than what you've already heard. We have no further information on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Private Lynch undergoing any sort of psychiatric or emotional counseling evaluations?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the soldiers that have returned from the theater of operations, as part of their multi-special evaluation here at Walter Reed, will undergo some initial assessment and evaluation of their emotional and mental status. And Private Lynch is undergoing those same evaluations. And her status as a POW, there are statutes and regulations that cover specific debriefing and specific evaluation for her as a POW, but other than that there's nothing special for Private Lynch that the other soldiers are also not getting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice to see you, Kevin. It used to take a long time for troops to get from the battlefield back here to Walter Reed. They came by ship. It took a long time and they had time to process the trauma of war. Can you say something about the military term "decompression" and what they can experience here at Walter Reed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The military health care system now is designed and is so synchronized, well trained and well equipped that it's not unusual for us to receive here at Walter Reed soldiers that have been injured, Marines that have been injured, as recently as three or four days ago, and they're here at Walter Reed.

In terms of recuperation and recovery for soldiers, that's a very short period of time and particularly with soldiers that have been under a tremendous stress, there's, clearly, a need for and a recognized process to decompress...

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to cut away from this press conference at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., because we want to continue to bring you the latest on this breaking story we have this morning here. Exclusive coverage right here on CNN of the seven American POWs who have been handed over to the U.S. Marines in Iraq. We are now learning that more and more of the families are getting their official notifications. We're joined now on the telephone by Athol Riley. He is the father of Sergeant James Riley.

Mr. Riley, are you there?

ATHOL RILEY, FATHER OF SARGENT JAMES RILEY: Yes.

HARRIS: Can you tell us, have you received your phone call by the Pentagon?

A. RILEY: No, but we have been noticed by Major Banks, the casualty officer for the U.S. Army.

HARRIS: All right. And tell us, sir, exactly what that notification was like and how you feel right now.

A. RILEY: He notified us about 10 after 7:00 this morning that there were a number of POWs rescued, but he was not sure. It hadn't been confirmed who they were. We went to church and on our return from church he arrived at 9:00, a little after 9:00 and confirmed that our son was one of them and they're in good condition.

HARRIS: And your reaction, sir?

A. RILEY: It hasn't fully set in yet.

HARRIS: I must say it sounds as though it hasn't set in. You sound rather calm for someone who's received such news that would actually be quite cheery, I would think.

A. RILEY: Well, you know, it's got to be tinged also with a certain amount of regret for the others that have not come home in one piece.

HARRIS: So you're still thinking of the others.

A. RILEY: Well, yes. Every day you see somebody that was -- there was from Burlington County, which is close by. And so they gave everything.

HARRIS: Now, you say you received your notification around 7:10 a.m.? Were you -- was that...

A. RILEY: No, no, at 10 after 7:00.

HARRIS: At 10 after 7:00 a.m.? About three hours ago?

A. RILEY: That's correct.

HARRIS: OK, and can you tell us what you've been doing in that last three hours?

A. RILEY: We went to church for the Palm Sunday service. And we came home and there was a large amount of press outside and then Major Banks arrived with the official notification.

HARRIS: Do you have -- I understand you're going to be having a press conference later on this morning, is that correct?

A. RILEY: Yes, shortly.

HARRIS: OK, we would definitely like to have coverage of that as well. Did you have attention at all of getting in contact with any of the other families that who are also going through all of this?

A. RILEY: Not at the present time. We may as things wind down a little bit.

HARRIS: We understand.

A. RILEY: We've got to let our families know. I have family in New Zealand, so it's the middle of the night there, so I will leave in a little while and let them know.

HARRIS: You don't want to call and wake them up?

A. RILEY: No. I don't think so. They'll probably see it in the paper anyway.

HARRIS: I must say, Mr. Riley, that surprises me. Have you notified anyone else in the family though?

A. RILEY: My mother and father-in-law who live here in New Jersey. They've been notified. My brother and sister-in-law in Texas have been notified. So many of them have already picked it up from the press.

HARRIS: Now, when you received your notification back around 7:10, were you told anything at all about arrangements being made for you all to get together and actually fly over to meet your son?

A. RILEY: No, no. We weren't even sure at that time that he was one of them.

HARRIS: Understood. Athol Riley, congratulations on this wondrous news and no doubt, there's going to be cause for jubilation throughout your family. We sure do appreciate your time this morning and we'll be waiting for the press conference, which will get under way shortly.

A. RILEY: Shortly. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank everybody that's sent us cards and letters and also thank the government and everybody that has been involved.

HARRIS: Well, we sure do thank you for joining us at this great time for you. Thank you very much.

A. RILEY: Thank you.

HARRIS: Athol Riley, father of Sergeant James Riley -- Heidi. COLLINS: All right. We are going to go now once again back to Matthew Fisher. If you recall, we spoke with him a little bit earlier today. He is with Canada's "National Post." He was actually with the unit that the servicemen were handed over to. So we want to hear one more time from him exactly what's going on at this point.

You are near Tikrit, is that not right, Matthew?

MATTHEW FISHER, "NATIONAL POST OF CANADA": I am actually inside Tikrit itself. I am a few hundred meters inside of Tikrit.

COLLINS: Matthew, go through this, once again, if you would, how this went down. You were there. You saw it all. Tell us about it.

FISHER: It was -- it was an accident, frankly, and a wonderful accident. The Marines of Delta Company, the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion from Twenty-nine Palms, California, were out here on another mission. It was -- it is Task Force Tripoli. That's to take the last of the land held by Saddam Hussein's forces. It's in and around the town of Tikrit. They were ordered to try to keep traffic from interfering with the main forces, movement at the town of Samarra and -- or, sorry, Samarra, and they did so. And they were on the edge of the town, the southern edge of town about one mile south of the center of town by a traffic circle near the Tigris River where there's a dam. And a man approached their vehicle. My understanding is that he was a police officer and he said, "You have come to get the prisoners? I had nothing to do with it, but I'll take you to them." And the man took them.

The Americans -- the Marines were astonished. They were taken and found the prisoners. And immediately, they said they broke into tears. There was incredible joy and -- at this and they thanked them and said they were so glad to be speaking with Americans again and to be in the company of Americans. The Marines formed almost a circle or a scrum around the Army personnel. The idea was so that they shouldn't feel abandoned. They were wearing pajama-like material. The woman POW was wearing apparently something that looked very Hawaiian. It was purple and white. And the men were wearing -- the men were wearing jerseys of different colors. And the men and the woman -- one man was injured. His right arm was in a sling. The woman had a bandage around her left ankle. My understanding is that she had been shot on two different occasions during her ordeal.

And they were given them Marine clothes to wear. There were jokes about this because these were Marines giving the Army clothing. And then they were whisked away almost immediately after a little bit of medical care from the corpsman, the Navy corpsmen that are always with Marine units. And they were taken south by helicopter almost immediately.

It was an accident. It happened very quickly. It was over, really, in a matter of moments. And if they had not gone to block this road, who knows what might have happened, but they went down this road to block it to make sure traffic didn't interfere with the military operation that is now under way and lo and behold, the prisoners happened to be there. And we are told the prisoners were moving constantly, all of the time. And also, we were told that they were -- the fellows guarding them said they thought they were safe...

HARRIS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) now, because we want to cut away here from Matthew's report to go now to a live press conference with Athol Riley. He's the father of Sergeant James Riley.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REV. EDWARD PRITTS: ... and the rest of the POWs are safe and we prayed on the way home very quickly. And we heard that the power of prayer has brought us to this place and we thank God for his deliverance of James and all of those who were kept captive. And we pray for our other men and women serving in the military at this time and we pray also for the people of Iraq that they may come to know the love of God in their hearts and their souls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the standpoint of being a clergyman, this has to be a very special Palm Sunday for you.

PRITTS: Never a better Palm Sunday in my life and we are absolutely ecstatic. We celebrate the triumph of our Lord entering into Jerusalem on this day and we celebrate the deliverance at this time of God's children who will be coming home to their families and friends. And we are grateful for the Rileys, the confidence, their faith, their continued prayer and the understanding that Go wouldn't be bringing them through this.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are the Rileys coming out to speak?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with you, with the family when you talked to them?

PRITTS: The sharing of ecstasy, joy and knowing that their son is alive and safe and all of the other POWs, as well, and having the opportunity to share this with the community. And Athol said to me there's a basket of gifts and cards and so many things from all over the world from people that they do not know and how it is a revival of one's faith in humanity and trust.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you offer prayers this morning at service?

PRITTS: We had prayers at services this morning for the safe return of James and the other POWs. And at that time, we did not know whether he was or was not safe, but one of my parishioners saw the news on television, so I came over to be with the Rileys and to celebrate with them.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's Sergeant Riley's condition this morning? Did the U.S. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tell you his condition?

PRITTS: Major Banks has told me that Sergeant Riley is indeed in physically good condition. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When is -- when will he be coming home?

PRITTS: They'll be going to Germany first with the rest of the POWs and whatever timetable our government and the military has for their rehabilitation there and safe journey home.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you describe the environment in there when you walked in and the message was sent? You knew. You talked to the family. Describe how it looked. What did they feel?

PRITTS: An environment of joy. An environment of great peace and really knowing the Lord in their hearts, and I just can't explain how emotional it was. I don't know James. I never knew James, but certainly I felt the emotional welling up in me as well. And we just are so grateful and glad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of Sergeant Riley's recently passed away. The family, of course, was anxious that they were going to get more bad news. Did they feel like she was, maybe, looking over how (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this good news today?

PRITTS: Well, the Rileys, of course, went through a time of difficulty with their daughter's illness. And they were hopeful, of course that Mary was indeed looking over and had trust that she would be. And we know that her being in God's hands, that she was indeed, in our understanding of our faith with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you also get a chance to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) might happen?

PRITTS: That I don't know. I haven't heard that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your name again, sir?

PRITTS: It's the Reverend Edward Pritts -- P-r-i-t-t-s.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "The Washington Post..."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what's the name of your church?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... this morning were suffering gun shot wounds. Was Sergeant Riley one of those?

PRITTS: No, he was not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So he's in perfectly good health.

PRITTS: According to Major Banks, he is indeed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name of the church here in (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

PRITTS: Grace Episcopal Church and Merchant (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any word on where the POWs were being held or how they were treated during the time that they were missing?

PRITTS: No, I have no idea where they were. Jane told me this morning that they were in north of Iraq -- excuse me, north of Baghdad. And I had not heard the news because I was at church very early and getting ready for Palm Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we expect to hear from the Rileys, the parents?

PRITTS: You will hear from them momentarily.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Father, where you a supporter of this war or did you think that the U.S. should (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

PRITTS: I felt that the U.S. should have tried more negotiable ways of resolving the issues. However, when the decision was made by those we elect to serve us in the Congress and in the presidency, we understand that we support our men and women who are called to serve in our military. And we pray for their safe return and we mourn for those who have given their lives and we mourn for those innocent Iraqis who have died in this conflict. And we pray for peace and we pray that all hostilities will be resolved quickly and that all of our men and women will be safely delivered.

So now, I have to go and do service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How soon will that family be joining us, sir, Reverend?

PRITTS: Right after me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, your name.

PRITTS: Edward Pritts.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: We'll step away now. We are thinking this was going to be a press conference with the Riley family. What we saw instead was the pastor, the Riley family pastor, going in to meet with Athol Riley, who is the father of Sergeant James Riley who is -- who serves now -- was in the 507th Maintenance Unit there.

There you see James Riley, the sergeant who is the POW, who has now -- we've gotten the confirmation -- who has been turned over and is now, we believe, on his way to Kuwait or in Kuwait City right now.

Now, we heard moments ago -- actually, we're now going to be seeing -- any moment now, we'll be seeing the parents, Athol Riley and Jane Riley coming out. And it was kind of strange -- well, an interesting conversation with Athol Riley on the telephone. He seemed to be rather calm and rather reserved. It'd be nice to see their face along with their voices now when we hear this reaction that they'll be giving to the press now, we hope.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, your reaction first, please?

JANE RILEY, MOTHER OF SERGEANT JAMES RILEY: I haven't had much time to react because you guys have all been here. So I'm happy, but I still can't believe it. When I touch him, I'll know it's real or see him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When will that be?

J. RILEY: You tell me. They haven't told us yet -- Major Banks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you could just lay it out to us. He came to you. He told you. What were your thoughts?

J. RILEY: He came to us, he told us and most of you were standing out here when he arrived, so, you know...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, this happened just after you returned from church services this morning?

J. RILEY: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How important do you think your prayers have been in being answered today?

A. RILEY: I think it is the power of prayer -- has a great deal to do with it, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you going to do when you see him for the first time, sir?

A. RILEY: Tell him I've got five pounds of 60-13 rods and he can start welding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You working at home?

A. RILEY: Oh, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assume, sir, you're thrilled like your wife.

A. RILEY: Yes. Yes, it's a...

J. RILEY: We didn't ring your mother.

A. RILEY: I haven't had time to contact my family yet. They're in New Zealand. I'd like to take the opportunity though of thanking everybody that's been involved...

J. RILEY: Yes.

A. RILEY: ... the people that have sent cards and letters, all the press who have helped us through everything and the service people that were involved and our government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was your first reaction... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand he's healthy?

A. Riley: From what we've...

J. RILEY: Been told, yes.

A. RILEY: ... that they were looked after correctly.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you thinking when you saw the major at your front door this morning?

A. RILEY: As long as he only comes by himself, it's not bad news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when he told you the news? What thoughts were going through your mind?

A. RILEY: Well, you've got a tinge it a little bit that they're healthy, but there are a number of others that gave it all and have come back in a different way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How soon do you expect to see your son?

A. RILEY: Oh, I have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not yet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When will you talk with him?

A. RILEY: Hopefully, if we can get a phone conversation, we'll talk to him by phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And certainly, Ma'am, you had...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think one of the first questions that you -- or the first things that you may tell him is about his sister?

A. RILEY: Yes. It would be...

J. RILEY: No, I think that'll be under advisement of the military, really because...

(CROSSTALK)

J. RILEY: Well, the military have him now, so I would imagine that that will be a military decision. He knew his sister was ill, so it wouldn't be too much of a shock. But they have to judge the mental status.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to go, very, very slowly, don't you?

J. RILEY: I believe so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mrs. Riley, how were you before, you know, you learned that your son was safe?

J. RILEY: Real worried. I just wasn't going to let you guys know it. Sorry, I wasn't going to let Iraq know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well then, certainly, you had -- you certainly must have had doubts that -- the way this war was progressing that possibly the Iraqis weren't going to be humane here in taking of the POWs and yet, here he is. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

J. RILEY: I don't know.

A. RILEY: I don't really think that people are inherently bad.

J. RILEY: Right.

A. RILEY: I think that generally people are -- have a good side and that includes the Iraqis. There may be some that don't, but...

COLLINS: All right. You are listening to the press conference of the Riley family there. We had been listening in for just a moment there. And at this point, we want to go ahead and bring you something else now. We have Anecita Hudson on the line. She is the mother of Joseph Hudson and he was with the 507th Maintenance Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas.

Do you hear me, Anecita?

ANECITA HUDSON, MOTHER OF JOSEPH HUDSON: OK, yes. I see pictures of him now.

COLLINS: Can you see him on our screen there?

HUDSON: Yes, yes.

COLLINS: That is the picture of him that we have had for some time. We are going to go ahead and roll the video that we have been showing this morning.

HUDSON: OK.

COLLINS: Is that him as well, Anecita? That is from the video that we have shown earlier today. Can you make him out or no?

HUDSON: Oh, no. I cannot make him out.

COLLINS: OK. I want to make sure that our viewers know that you have gotten official confirmation, haven't you, about the welfare of your son, Joseph? Tell us about that.

HUDSON: Yes. Right there, it looks like my Joseph, right there in the back.

COLLINS: OK. As you watch this, Anecita, can you tell us a little bit about how it happened for you this morning when you actually heard? Was it from the Pentagon? Were they the ones that confirmed this with you? HUDSON: The Pentagon didn't call me, but the Army; they let me know my Joseph's safe.

COLLINS: What did they say?

HUDSON: They said that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Mrs. Hudson, your Joseph is safe.

COLLINS: How did that make you feel?

HUDSON: Oh, man, you don't know. I'm really -- I'm crying and I'm happy. I'm -- you know, I don't know what I'm going to say. But right now -- right now I'm really glad that at least they found my Joseph.

COLLINS: I would imagine it is an incredible swirl of emotions within you at this time. Have you had a chance to speak with Joseph's wife?

HUDSON: No, not yet, ma'am. Right now, I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) over there by Natalie and their house. They're going to call me, and he told me that don't worry, Joseph is safe. That's what he said.

COLLINS: I can't imagine -- we've been talking about it all morning -- trying to get a better understanding of what the families have gone through as well as what these servicemen have gone through. We will hear more from them, obviously, when they get home and go through the debrief. But for you, an incredible day after a difficult, difficult time, I would imagine.

HUDSON: OK, ma'am.

COLLINS: Thank you so much for talking with us, Anecita Hudson.

HUDSON: OK, ma'am, OK. Thank you.

COLLINS: The mother of Joseph Hudson from the 507th Maintenance Division, Alamogordo, New Mexico this morning.

HARRIS: And Hudson now makes five of the seven that have been released this morning, the seven POW. CNN has now been able to bring you, this morning, folks, live coverage this morning, either live or taped interviews with five of the families involved here. Now here is an interview with our Susan Candiotti and the family of Ron Young.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Susan Candiotti at the home of Ronald Young, his parents' home, Kaye and Ronald Young Senior. And just moments ago, all of you got the official word from your contact with the Army that Ron is all right and has been recovered. Starting with you, Ronald Young Senior. You saw your son, you know, just not long ago on television. How did he look?

RONALD YOUNG SENIOR, FATHER OF RONALD YOUNG JUNIOR: He looked great. I mean, you know, he looked like he's grown a few whiskers and maybe lost a little bit of weight, but other than that, it looked like he's all right.

CANDIOTTI: This is the news you were waiting for for such a long time.

R. YOUNG: That's right. That's right.

CANDIOTTI: How did it work this morning from the time you got up and you started hearing things?

R. YOUNG: Well, I was -- had come in this morning about 3:00 on the train and I was laying down on the couch.

CANDIOTTI: You're an engineer.

R. YOUNG: Right. No, I'm a conductor. But anyway, I was laying on the couch and then my daughter-in-law called me and said there is breaking news on the POWs, you know. She said, you know -- she told me a few things there. And then some lady called from another place and then, the phones started ringing. So I went ahead and turned the TV on and it was beginning to get into those kind of things. So I woke Kaye up and I was just ecstatic because they said, you know, they found the POWs. And then, later on they said they didn't know whether there were six of them or seven of them. And then, they said they didn't know whether it was MIAs or POWs and I kind of sank down a little bit because, you know, I'm glad to see them get anybody out of there.

CANDIOTTI: You just don't know what to think exactly.

R. YOUNG: But -- yes -- but I was just ecstatic when I found out it was my son and the POWs that he was with over there.

CANDIOTTI: And Kaye, I -- you were right there. Your husband and you were discussing this since the moment all of this broke around 7:00 in the morning. What were you thinking initially?

KAYE YOUNG, MOTHER OF RONALD YOUNG JUNIOR: At first, Ronnie's jumping up and down and you know we're real excited. The phone has already started to ring by 6:00 just continuously. And then we heard that it might be MIAs. And so, we both said well, if they get those, that's that much better. They're still going to get them. So we were still fine.

But then when we heard that it was actually them, I was still kind of afraid to believe it because you don't want to get your hopes up that high. And so then when we -- yes, when my friends, Judy and Robert, came in, we all four formed a circle with our arms around each other and we knelt down and we had a prayer. Judy prayed and Judy said it's him. So we were just very, very excited and hopeful and then, we saw the pictures on the television.

CANDIOTTI: About two hours later, you started seeing these photographs and they're not the clearest thing in the world. But how did you know as a mother, as a sister, as a father?

K. YOUNG: Every time they showed the pictures, I would have my head turned. So they keep saying, "Watch." So I watched and they say he's the one in the blue pajamas. So we watched, and at first, I couldn't tell. There he goes again. I could not tell. And then, when they showed the close-up of him running and grinning, I knew. That smile, you know, you can't just -- you just -- you know, the smile is his.

CANDIOTTI: Kelly, I think you spotted him first when they first ran the tape on television.

KELLY LIVELEY: He's got a beard so he looks like my older brother, which I've never noticed that. But I was in bed this morning and I heard, ooh! And I was, like -- you know, I went back to sleep. And then Judy came up and said, "They've found your brother." And I jumped out of bed and I'm excited.

CANDIOTTI: It's been quite a time here over these few weeks with all kind of people. Mr. Young, being at the house. And not only that, but you have -- you're wearing a t-shirt. There have been all kinds of t-shirts made on behalf of your son. Tell me about this one.

R. YOUNG: Well, this one right here was made by a friend of his. They had it made and had the logo, the POW logo, with his name under it.

CANDIOTTI: And the back?

R. YOUNG: And the back of it is the unit insignia, where he's -- the vampires that he's with. So, you know, it's a pretty nice t-shirt and they did them at cost, so you know I guess we have a lot of t- shirts to wear now.

CANDIOTTI: I also notice you have lipstick on the side of your cheek.

R. YOUNG: I think that came from you, didn't it?

CANDIOTTI: No comment on that. In any case, what happens next? Obviously, you're so excited about what happened. Do you know yet where you will go? When you'll get a chance to see your son?

R. YOUNG: Well, I don't know. I don't have any idea. They just let us know. I mean Chief Warrant Officer Sammy Johnson just let us -- give us the opportunity to know that he's OK and that the Army has, you know, formerly told us that he's one of the released POWs. Now, I don't know where it goes here. I don't have any information. He said he's going to wait for CENTCOM to call and give whatever instruction they're going to give and then they'll let us know.

CANDIOTTI: What do you make out of the fact that he was able to walk under his own power into that ambulance?

R. YOUNG: Well, you know, I'll tell you what. I thought -- I always had in the back of my mind he might limp and have a cane or something. I don't know why. Maybe it's movies or something, but that's what I pictured him as. And then, when he was walking out of there like, you know, it's just another day. So I -- you know, I'm really glad to see him OK. I really am because you don't know what they could do to him and you know. And I'm sure he's had some hard times, but you still don't know.

CANDIOTTI: How do you think he'll come out of this in the end? Of course, there's the decompression period to talk about, the briefings he'll have to go through. How do you think he'll do?

R. YOUNG: Well, I think he'll do all right. I really do. He's a strong guy and I think he'll maintain that strength and be able to work through it. We had a POW over here that was from World War II and he's advised us if he -- unless he wants to talk about, don't press him for things because he says it's just a feeling that sometimes you just -- you can't talk about those things, you know.

CANDIOTTI: Kaye, let me ask you, when you saw him walking under his own power -- of course, he's going to be getting medical care and the like. How do you think your son will be able to recover from this and what would you like to see him do in the future?

K. YOUNG: With the grin on his face, he's fine. I know he's fine. He looked -- I mean, you could see the relief, you know. We've got a picture over there of when he won the Byron Raven (ph) Award and he's got that same exuberant look, you know. And it's the same look I saw on that television. It looked 10 years old.

CANDIOTTI: Did you ever have doubts that he would be home safely? I know over the past several weeks you kept saying...

K. YOUNG: No, I felt a sense of peace and I always thought he would be home. I mean I never doubted that. In the back of my mind, I kept saying, you know, I can accept death. You know we have to accept the Lord's will, but I just -- I always felt like he would be home and I was hoping I wasn't being naive.

CANDIOTTI: Now, finally, I know tomorrow is a very special day. I happen to know it's your birthday.

K. YOUNG: That's right.

CANDIOTTI: So, obviously, what do you think about the timing of this?

K. YOUNG: Oh, I told everybody yesterday, I said he is going to be home by my birthday. And I said -- and it's eight hours earlier there, so he's a little early, but maybe we'll talk to him by my birthday.

CANDIOTTI: OK, thank you for allowing us into...

K. YOUNG: That was the greatest birthday present a mother could have.

CANDIOTTI: Yes, Kelly?

LIVELEY: I think Ron is going to be cracked up with all of the Ron Young memorabilia. I think he's going to be. K. YOUNG: All our t-shirts and ribbons and bracelets and...

CANDIOTTI: Not only that, you had a flagpole installed in your front yard. All kinds of things have happened. You have a scrapbook.

K. YOUNG: Yes, right. We have five scrapbooks.

CANDIOTTI: We'll show those, too. And again, his reaction to this, you think will be what?

LIVELEY: I think he's just going to crack up and just shake his head and be, like, what have you all been doing.

CANDIOTTI: A little bit -- a wonderful homecoming for him when he does come home. And thank you for joining us. Thank you very much.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, reporting in Lithia Springs, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And our thanks to Susan who hustled out of here at the CNN Center and got out to Lithia Springs in a matter of minutes to sit down there with the Young family on what is has got to be quite a joyous morning for them.

And as you've seen with them -- we have seen almost every reaction you can imagine amongst these families who are getting the word about these seven Americans being released by the Iraqis and handed over to Marines. We've seen the wealth of emotions expressed by the families, like the Youngs. We've also seen something of (UNINTELLIGIBLE), words and emotion by the Riley family.

But we're seeing reactions all across the emotional spectrum as the families of the seven POWs who have been held in Iraq since the 23rd at least of March are finding out now -- some of them being officially notified by the Pentagon and some of them admitting that they've learned about the situation here on CNN because of exclusive coverage. Beginning here with Ronald Young, who was one of the Apache pilots.

You just saw Susan Candiotti spending time with his family here in Georgia. The other pilot, Apache pilot, who was also involved here was David Williams. I don't believe that -- that's Ronald Young there, you see there on the screen. His family was the family we just spoke with. There's David Williams. We talked to his wife, Michelle this morning.

Now, Shoshana Johnson is the African-American woman who we've seen off and on with pictures. Her family is going to be coming out and having a press conference. They've already spoken with our Ed Lavandera and shared some of their emotions. We understand that they're going to have a press conference. That may be getting underway even as we speak right now, is that the case? OK, it'll be starting momentarily. When it does -- when it does, we will take you there live. We want to show you some more of the names and faces of those who we believe are going to be on their way home fairly soon. Joseph Hudson, the Army specialist. We spoke with his mom, Anecita, just a little while ago and got her bubbling reaction. She was so excited she could barely speak into the phone about it. Also, James Riley, we talked with his dad and we also saw his mom as well in the press conference, the impromptu press conference that was held in their driveway. And also again, we will get to Shoshana Johnson in just a bit.

But again, as we said earlier, some of these families -- we were trying to wait patiently and let the Pentagon do its business here and notify them officially. But some of the families found out by watching CNN's coverage. Bob Franken is at a location about 65 miles south of Baghdad at an airfield and he and his crew were actually able to shoot these pictures, report to us on the phone what they were seeing and hearing. And Bob joins us right now on the phone -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, one of the things we were describing, the range of emotions. And I can tell you, it's quite emotion here. I mean these are Marines who have been scrounging around in the dirt and fighting a war for some time, but the universal emotion here is jubilation. From the commanding officer -- he, too, by the way, was pulling in CNN and was watching this -- to just about everybody on the flight line. The Marines in this unit, as a matter of fact, as the choppers were coming in with the POWs, they made a beeline, all of the Humvees lining up along the flight line. They were permitted to do that.

The seven, of course, got off their helicopters. Five literally sprinted off the helicopters. You've been watching the video, throwing their fists in the air with the thrill of, in fact, getting their lives back. Very good health, the first five. One had his arm in a sling. The other two were on the second helicopter. They were not in quite as good of health. There have been reports that two had gunshot wounds. We saw that the woman was limping.

HARRIS: Bob, are you still there? I think we may have lost the connection with Bob Franken.

FRANKEN: Can you hear me, Leon?

HARRIS: There we go. We've got you back now. Go ahead, Bob. And Bob...

FRANKEN: OK, satellite technology.

HARRIS: Yes, there you go. That's the best -- it's working great this morning. And we want you to go back and -- in fact, we want you to hang on, Bob. We're just now getting word Shoshana Johnson's family is coming to the microphone. Stand by, Bob. Let's go to El Paso, Texas right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning. I am going to read a statement from the Johnson family and a quote from Claude Johnson. We, the Johnson family received official confirmation today that our daughter, Shoshana Johnson, is safe and alive. Quote from Claude Johnson, "We are ecstatic that not only she is safe, but all the POWs are back in the U.S. -- in the U.S.'s hands. We thank God for watching over them. We are very grateful for all of the worldwide prayers" -- end quote. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

(OFF MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, give me time to look at it and I'll translate it, OK?

So there are no questions to be answered. If I have any more statements from them, if you want to stay by, that's totally up to you. As of now, that is the first response and the first reaction. Claude is C-l-a-u-d-e Johnson, J-o-h-n-s-o-n. Thank you.

HARRIS: And with that, we've now gotten some sort of response from, as we said, five of the families of the seven POWs who have been handed over to Marines north of Samarra.

Let's go back to our Bob Franken who is still on the line. And Bob, we just heard that short response -- the short bit of reaction there from the Johnson family. You, when you first called in to talk to us, told us you were standing almost right next to Shoshana Johnson.

FRANKEN: I was, as a matter of fact. The arrangement we had with the Marine is we were not allowed to shout questions. It's something obviously we were happy to agree to. She had a very, very stoic look on her face. She was limping as she walked past me. I looked down and saw that her ankle was bandaged, but she was walking and carrying her own paraphernalia, some of her equipment, that type of thing. The other person on the plane had injuries. It didn't seem to be leg injuries, but he was walking very slowly, but still, did not appear to have anything life-threatening.

As I mentioned before, although they were in some pain, they were obviously thrilled to death to be free and the others who were in very, very good shape were demonstrably thrilled to be free. We saw them just leaping and jumping off the plane, raising their fists in the air. What an odyssey they had, what a story they have to tell, which by the way, they're telling now to the intelligence debriefers.

And by the way, intelligence debriefers, we're told, are also interrogating the Iraqis who surrendered. Their story has been that their officers -- this is reviewing information we've reporting before -- their officers had deserted as they held these POWs in an area north of Samarra. Between Samarra and Tikrit where there's a large military operation under way, they decided, the junior members of this unit, decided that they wanted to surrender through an intermediary, perhaps, or in one way or another, they came up the 3rd Armored Division, the Marine 3rd Light Armor Division. And they gave up the POWs and then, of course, things moved very quickly. The POWs quickly put on CH-46 helicopters and brought here to this base, about 65 miles south of Baghdad. They got off the plane. You've seen the video. They went right -- immediately to vehicles, immediately to a C-130. There was no need to take them to the field hospital here, which of course suggests good news and then, off they went where they're heading toward a normal life again after an adventure that is one, I'm sure, that they wished that they never had -- Leon.

HARRIS: Incredible story. It's just one of the many incredible stories that we've been hearing. And add this one to the rescue of Private Lynch. Well, this is going to be some kind of tale these soldiers are going to have to tell when they get out of there.

Bob, let's see if we can -- if we can clarify one thing without confusing too people -- too many people when we talk about the time involved. We talked with the Riley family a while ago and we were told by them that they were notified more than -- about three and a half hours ago. Any idea about exactly when this happened? If the family Riley family found out three and a half hours ago, they got their official notification that something had happened, is there any way to tell exactly when these POWs may have been handed over?

FRANKEN: Well, no. I will tell you that I was told about this -- now about five to six hours ago. I was told you can't report this yet, but we have information told by somebody who was just bursting at the seams with delight. And then, the word came out. And then, of course, as I told you before the word came out that not far from where we were, they would -- the POWs would be brought in. And so, we were able to wrangle our way and get to them so the world can see the shots of their jubilant freedom.

But in any case, so about five hours ago is when we heard about it. So it has to be some time before that. There are a lot parts of the who, what, when, where, and why and how that we have not been able to completely get our hands on yet and part of that is because the Defense Department doesn't really want to talk about a lot of things until they make sure that it doesn't compromise any efforts that they might have going anywhere.

HARRIS: Yes, we understand that 100 percent, Bob. So that clarifies that. Now, one other thing as well -- we heard -- we talked earlier with our analyst, Major General Don Shepperd, who -- let the plane go by there.

FRANKEN: Hold on one second.

HARRIS: OK, got you now. He surmised that perhaps they would be taking those Iraqis who turned them over and that the U.S. could actually hold them and interrogate them as well. Do -- is there anything we can report about the mission itself, that these Marines -- they were on a mission when all of this happened. This sort of came and fell in their laps. Can you report anything at all about their mission after they went ahead and took control of those POWs?

FRANKEN: Yes. Well, the particular group of Marines was conducting what is called a blocking action. There is, as you know, an offensive in Tikrit right now. These Marines were part of the group that ended up in the back and its purpose, of course, was to prevent any escapes, any escapes through the lines in that particular area or, of course, in the attacks from the back. So that was the position they were taking up and they were moving up Highway 1 to do it when they came upon the person who arranged the surrender.

Now, there are varying version of how that surrender was affected. I know that you had somebody on the air a while ago who said that a police officer had done it and perhaps -- I can only surmise at this point that the Iraqi soldiers, who were probably scared out of their wits, went to an intermediary. In any case, they stopped the Marine unit that was moving and turned the prisoners over to them and everybody then moved very quickly.

HARRIS: Understood. And Bob, just to inform our viewers of what they're watching right now. This is videotape that was shot about maybe an hour and a half ago or so. This is the Young family who -- this is Ronald Young, the Apache pilot, his family. That's his father there, Ronald Young Senior. Apparently, this video was shot right before Susan -- or I guess maybe during or after Susan Candiotti's interview with them. But they had not gotten their official notification from the Pentagon, but we had already spoken with them here on the air by that point, and you can tell they were still watching television to get any other late news.

Bob, do we know where exactly they happen to be right now? We know they were flying back to Kuwait. Do we know where they are right now and where they go from there?

FRANKEN: No, and no, I don't. I can tell you what they flew in when they left here. And -- but I can tell you that they were being taken back to Kuwait to see if they would get medical treatment there. Of course, if it was more -- if it was serious, they could perhaps be moved to Frankfurt. We all witnessed that a lot of times.

HARRIS: Yes.

FRANKEN: In this particular case, none of these injuries, I can tell you, seemed life threatening. You can see that on the video itself. So the possibility exists, we're told, that there will be medical treatment in Kuwait. It wasn't even serious enough for them to stop for a moment at a fairly well equipped field hospital here.

HARRIS: OK. Now, I know that earlier you said you couldn't say anything and I know that they were trying to -- at least tried to keep the situation under control before everything got finally -- final approval. But did any of them make any statements before they got back into -- and got into that C-130 rather and took off for Kuwait?

FRANKEN: The reason I couldn't say anything before was because I didn't know and I still can't say anything.

HARRIS: OK, got you, understood. Bob Franken, very good work this morning, you and the crew. Congratulations all of the way around. And I'm sure that you've been able to listen to thanks that the families have expressed for being able to find out this happy news by watching this CNN -- this exclusive video that we got fed in by videophone there from that handover of those POWs who are now somewhere in the air maybe -- perhaps either in Kuwait or perhaps back to Europe -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Just an incredible, incredible day, indeed. We -- speaking of incredible news, I'm sure that once Jessica Lynch hears of all of this her joy will be insurmountable. We have Elizabeth Cohen standing by at the Walter Reed Medical Facility now where Jessica Lynch is. She's going to give us a bit of an update on her progress there.

Good morning to you, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Heidi. Heidi, we're told that Private Lynch does indeed have a television in her room and the major general who is in charge of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center -- he said that he made sure that it worked. And today, Private Lynch and her family issued this statement.

The statement says, "This morning, our family joins America in rejoicing over the news of the safe return of seven brave heroes to U.S. military custody in Iraq. This is certainly an answer to our prayers."

So apparently, Jessica has heard that her other -- these other members of the 507th have been returned. And that's one of the things that military psychologists talk about when they talk about the emotional recovery of returned POWs or any returned soldiers is that they often feel anxiety for those left behind. So this must be just giving her recovery a big boost.

She is in satisfactory condition at Walter Reed. And the major general, Kevin Kyley (ph), who gave the briefing today -- he wouldn't give any details. However, he would say -- when asked how long her recovery would take, how long she'd be at Walter Reed, he said, "You can assume a few weeks." And he said they are now doing the initial assessment of her emotional and mental status -- Heidi.

COLLINS: I'm sure it will take some time for her to overcome all of this. But as you say, a great big boost to her emotional state, I'm sure today. Thanks so much, Elizabeth Cohen at Walter Reed Army Medical Facility.

And speaking of the psychological impact this would have on a soldier, the fact of being a POW, we want to bring in our General Donald Shepperd to tell us more about this, as far as what it will take for these soldiers to get through this unbelievably traumatic ordeal.

General Shepperd, what would be the first step through all of this?

GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, this is tough stuff, Heidi. And these soldiers are tough. And I'll tell you their reaction is going to be hey, we're free, we're released. Let us go back to our families. Let's get on with life. And what we found out over they years is they do need help and they do need professional counseling. And also, you want more information from them.

So what will likely take place now? They've reportedly been evacuated by C-130 to Kuwait City. The next stop will likely be from Kuwait City to Ramstein Air Force Base in Landstuhl in Germany for medical examination to assure if they need any immediate or short-term medical care, and then evacuation to Walter Reed where they will be evaluated even further despite the fact that many of them will think hey, I've just got a few scratches, let me go. They want to look at a lot of things.

They will also be asking them operational questions because a couple of -- three days after, somebody may have mentioned something or may remember something that's very important to military intelligence that will lead them to other MIAs or POWs. But they need professional help whether they think they do or not. We've learned that over the years, Heidi.

COLLINS: What sort of questioning? Can you give us some insight on as far as what they will be talking about, in lieu of -- in particular to the Geneva Conventions and what may have happened to other POWs? Certainly, that is going to be on their minds.

SHEPPERD: Yes. This is kind of interesting because we have heard already statements out of the Department of Defense that as we basically take over Iraq, there will be moves made to prosecute people who are guilty of war crimes, mistreatment of people, mistreatment of POWs going back to the original Iraq war. So they're going to get every piece of information -- who treated them poorly, who treated them well, who should be rewarded and given, if you will, some type of treatment as based upon how well they treated our prisoners and who should be prosecuted for this. All of the film that we have seen from the beginning of their capture, their interrogation, that we have seen on CNN will be part of evidence. It will be carefully looked at and they've gone over in fine detail for this information -- Heidi.

COLLINS: I would imagine the soldiers would possibly look at that video with the people who will be interrogating them, higher ups, I would imagine, and walking through it and saying you know, whether they recognize certain people and so forth, is that realistic to think?

SHEPPERD: Indeed, it is. People, voices, they will compare notes between the POWs. They'll get the POWs together and say let's go through this again. Describe this man. Describe what he did to you. Describe this person. They'll go over in detail the films to refresh the memory of the POWs and get every little scant piece of information possible so they can hold people responsible and bring them to justice, Heidi.

COLLINS: I find it interesting, too. We always talk about how much training the soldiers and the airmen and everyone goes through before deploying to conflicts as this and it is extensive training. But I find it interesting the things that you mentioned earlier about you never really know how you're going to behave and how you will handle yourself until you're in that situation.

SHEPPERD: Indeed. All soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors, basically received some training. These people that were in the Maintenance Squadron would receive rudimentary type training, early on training, but not the deep training that the helicopter pilots would have received. So there's a full gamut. Everyone thinks through a situation, in a combat situation, of what they would do if shot down, but everybody that I talked to basically says that no matter what they had thought through, they were surprised when it actually had happened and in many cases, simply, were not prepared for what they endured.

COLLINS: Talk to us for just a moment if you would about recovery. Clearly, this has to be different for everybody.

SHEPPERD: It does indeed, and not only for the individuals involved, but for the families, for the wives, and for the children. The military has a very good system based upon longtime studies of POWs about what is needed by all members of the family. This can cause family problems, relations problems with children, this type of thing and that all has to be offered to the individuals and to their families. But it's a very well considered process. They'll get all of the support they need -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, very good. Thanks for your insight, General Donald Shepperd, once again -- Leon.

HARRIS: This has been quite an emotional morning for five families at least that we have been able to speak with and get some direct response from. The seven POWs who have now been turned over to the U.S. forces.

We have been able to make contact with these five families. First of all, the Ronald Young family. Here we have Ronald Young Junior, who was an Apache helicopter pilot. And his family was one of the first families that we spoke with. And they just were just overjoyed this morning. We also spoke with David Williams' wife, Michelle Williams. He -- David, was the other Apache pilot who -- the downed Apache pilots who had been missing for quite some time in Iraq.

Army specialist Joseph Hudson. We spoke as well with his mother, Anecita Hudson, this morning, who identified him from the picture on the air with us as we talked with her. And Sergeant James Riley, his mother and father came out and spoke with the press in a rather impromptu press conference in the driveway. He was the one who told us that he actually got the word from the government officially at around 7:10 Eastern Time, about three -- almost four hours ago. And Shoshana Johnson, her family issued a short statement, but our Bob Franken was actually standing next to her and he was the first one to actually confirm that he'd seen an African-American woman with an ankle injury, which led us all to believe that it was the members of the 507th who were there, actually being turned over to the Marines, and this -- all of this happening out in the small town north of Baghdad. We understand they were just -- walked up to the Marines and surrendered by someone who may have been identified as an Iraqi police officer. Now, we want to share with you now some of the reactions that we were getting from some of the families, one family in particular, the Young family because we were able to talk to them at a moment where they had not officially gotten the notification from the Pentagon. Here's how their morning unfolded before our very eyes and ears.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

R. YOUNG: He looked great. I mean, you know, he looked like he's grown a few whiskers and maybe lost a little bit of weight, but other than that, it looked like he's all right.

CANDIOTTI: This is the news you were waiting for for such a long time.

R. YOUNG: That's right. That's right.

CANDIOTTI: How did it work this morning from the time you got up and you started hearing things?

R. YOUNG: Well, I was -- had come in this morning about 3:00 on the train and I was laying down on the couch.

CANDIOTTI: You're an engineer.

R. YOUNG: Right. No, I'm a conductor. But anyway, I was laying on the couch and then my daughter-in-law called me and said there is breaking news on the POWs, you know. She said, you know -- she told me a few things there. And then some lady called from another place and then, the phones started ringing. So I went ahead and turned the TV on and it was beginning to get into those kind of things. So I woke Kaye up and I was just ecstatic because they said, you know, they found the POWs. And then, later on they said they didn't know whether there were six of them or seven of them. And then, they said they didn't know whether it was MIAs or POWs and I kind of sank down a little bit because, you know, I'm glad to see them get anybody out of there.

CANDIOTTI: You just don't know what to think exactly.

R. YOUNG: But -- yes -- but I was just ecstatic when I found out it was my son and the POWs...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Ronald Young Senior talking with our Susan Candiotti about his son, Ron Young Junior, of course, Apache helicopter pilot. We want to go ahead and listen to a little more reaction now from the families. And we have sound from Sergeant James Riley's family as they spoke to the press outside their home in New Jersey, his mother and father, Athol and Jane. Let's go ahead and listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

A. RILEY: Well, it's been difficult from two sources, you know. We had -- we had this problem going on and then, we had our daughter. So it was kind of a one-two punch, and then I'm hoping it'll get back to normal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And describe your day today. You must have gone through such a whirlwind of emotions from waking up to that news and keeping your fingers crossed that you were going to receive good news. Can you walk us through your day today?

A. RILEY: Got up, got dressed and went to church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You really didn't think -- I mean how did you feel?

J. RILEY: We waited for the official news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were there special prayers?

J. RILEY: Oh, yes. The whole church did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was it?

J. RILEY: I don't know. I guess you got the home book of prayers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was no change in your emotion today after finding out the news that they had discovered...

A. RILEY: Well, we already went through this once before about what, a week ago or two weeks ago. So I wasn't prepared to be -- until I knew honestly.

J. RILEY: And they said it was either POWs or MIAs. So some families of the MIAs, they still don't know and we will pray for them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And now from that family's driveway and their home in New Jersey, to El Paso, Texas, Shoshana Johnson's family made this statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the Johnson family, received official confirmation today that our daughter, Shoshana Johnson, is safe and alive. Quote from Claude Johnson, "We are ecstatic that not only she is safe, but all the POWs are back in the U.S. -- in the U.S.'s hands. We thank God for watching over them. We are very grateful for all of the worldwide prayers" -- end quote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: And as we said, that is five of the seven families involved who have been sitting back and waiting for any kind word on the POWs. Hopefully, we'll get reaction from the remaining two families. Here on the list, we have the Hernandez and Miller family.

COLLINS: Hernandez and Miller, that's right. The prayers that the Shoshana Johnson family was talking about were certainly answered today for all seven of those families.

HARRIS: Yes, exactly. We also heard the Riley family also temper their excitement and their enthusiasm. There's some concern still for the families of those who will not be making it back.

COLLINS: Yes, missing in action at this time. All right, very good. We sure do appreciate you tuning in this morning, a very big day here and for all of those families as well.

HARRIS: Got much more coming up after a break. Don't go away.

COLLINS: Have a good day, everybody.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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