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James Hattori: Military families await return of crew members

James Hattori  

James Hattori is a correspondent for CNN's San Francisco bureau. He has been at Whidbey Island, located near Seattle, Washington, which is the home base of the crew for the EP-3 electronic reconnaissance plane. Chinese authorities are still detaining both the plane and the crew.

Q: How did most of the family members first learn about the incident?

HATTORI: We have not been allowed direct contact with family members. We can only assume they were informed by the military. Obviously, this is a difficult time for them, and they have asked us to respect their privacy. The military folks are watching them pretty closely and offering them help. Each family has been provided with a counselor who can be contacted at any time if the families have questions or concerns.

CNN's Denise Dillon gets reaction from relatives of the crew of the U.S. plane that is in China

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Q: What is the mood on Whidbey Island right now?

HATTORI: This is a military community, and includes active duty families as well as retirees. Yellow ribbons went up this morning. Some families are making meals for the families of the plane's crew members. All military families understand the risks of military service, but that does not make enduring a situation like this any easier. The community shares the concerns of the family, but it is difficult to imagine exactly what those families are going through.

Q: Has anyone expressed any concern about the downed Chinese pilot?

HATTORI: That's an interesting question. All military families, regardless of where they live, have something in common because they understand the risks involved in military service. For the family of the Chinese pilot and the families of the American crew, this is more of a personal situation than a political one. A family in China and families in America wait anxiously for word on the fate of family members.

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Naval Air Station Whidbey Island

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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