Skip to main content
CNN EditionU.S.
The Web     
Powered by
powered by Yahoo!
Iraq Banner

Military career POW's boyhood dream

Sgt. James Riley as he appeared in a video after his capture in Iraq
Sgt. James Riley as he appeared in a video after his capture in Iraq

Story Tools

more video VIDEO
CNN's Paula Zahn talks to the family of Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr.
premium content

Family members hope for the safe return of the POWs. CNN's Brian Cabell reports.
premium content
POW Profile: Edgar Hernandez 
POW Profile: Shoshana Johnson 
POW Profile: James Riley 
POW Profile: Ronald Young 
POW Profile: David Williams 
POW Profile: Joseph Hudson 
POW Profile: Patrick Miller 
•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

(CNN) -- Before U.S. military officials could contact Sgt. James Riley's family about his misfortune, a Web site posted his picture on the Internet and informed the world that he was a prisoner of war in Iraq.

On Sunday, Iraqi troops ambushed the 507th Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss, Texas, and Riley was one of 12 from the group to be captured, killed or determined missing. His mother's co-worker saw Riley's photo on the Web and informed his family, said Athol Riley, the Army mechanic's father.

"It's still not really sunk in," said Jane Riley, his mother.

Riley, 31, was born in New Zealand and lived there until he was 10 years old before moving to Pennsauken, New Jersey, The New Zealand Herald reported on its Web site. He has not revisited his homeland, but maintains dual citizenship, the article said.

The Courier Post, a New Jersey newspaper, reported his parents said he expressed interest in a military career as a young boy and joined the Army 13 years ago after graduating from Pennsauken High School.

"He joined the Army and would have gone to the first Gulf War, but it finished before he got there, although he had orders to go," his mother told Paula Zahn Tuesday on CNN's American Morning. "He's been in Korea twice and Saudi Arabia and various other places."

Riley, who is single and childless, the Courier Post reported, taught himself the guitar and is a science fiction buff who is making a chain mail shirt for himself.

In the Army, Riley repairs tanks, services the Patriot missile battery and does a substantial amount of welding, his father said.

Athol Riley described his son to the Courier Post as practical-minded, strong and stubborn. A video clip of Riley that aired Sunday showed him sitting in a wheelchair with his hands in his lap and answering questions in a clipped fashion, the Courier Post reported.

Riley's father said he would like to see that tape. "So many other people have seen it, and we want to be informed."

Riley's family last saw him in July and spoke to him before his February deployment. "It's tough, but we have each other," Katharine Riley said about her brother's capture. "We have our family and our friends and we pray, and we just take it day by day ... minute by minute."

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Father guilty of killing 9 of his children
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.