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Seven rescued U.S. prisoners prepare to come home

Discussion /

April 14, 2003 Posted: 12:15 AM EDT (0415 GMT)
U.S. soldiers escort Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson to a waiting C-130 transport plane at an air base in Iraq on Sunday.
U.S. soldiers escort Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson to a waiting C-130 transport plane at an air base in Iraq on Sunday.  

U.S. Marines rescued seven American prisoners of war on Sunday. The Marines were operating north of Baghdad when they were approached by an Iraqi policeman, who said he had information about American prisoners. He led U.S. forces to a nearby building in the Iraqi town of Samarra, where the Marines found the prisoners under Iraqi guard, according to the Marines' commander.

Though some of the former prisoners appeared to be wounded, all seven of them were able to walk without help to the U.S. transport vehicles awaiting them.

The families of the recovered troops expressed jubilation when they heard about the rescue. Several relatives of the seven American soldiers said that they had recognized their rescued family members on CNN.

Five of the seven soldiers were members of the U.S. Army's 507th Maintenance Company, and two others were pilots of Apache helicopters. They received medical treatment for minor injuries, according to a nurse in Kuwait. U.S. military officials reportedly told the former prisoners they could leave for Washington, D.C. by Tuesday afternoon.

•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
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• Time for Kids: America at War external link
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• Holt, Rinehart and Winston: Operation Iraqi Freedom external link

The seven soldiers can expect to be treated at Washington, D.C.'s Walter Reed Army Hospital - the same facility where Pfc. Jessica Lynch is being treated. Lynch is also a member of the 507th Maintenance Company. She was rescued earlier this month during a Special Operations raid at a building in southern Iraq.

Supporters lined the streets in Washington to commemorate Lynch's arrival in the U.S. on Saturday. Meanwhile, preparations continued in Wirt County, West Virginia for her return home. Officials say the19-year-old private first class "seems to be in good spirits," and that she will likely go home in a few weeks.

Because sporadic fighting continues in Iraq, U.S. officials are not yet calling Operation Iraqi Freedom a coalition victory. However, Gen. Tommy Franks, chief of the U.S. Central Command, called Saddam Hussein's government an "ex-regime" on Sunday.

Saddam's whereabouts are currently unknown, though some officials speculate that he was killed in a bombing last week. U.S. officials dropped four bombs on a building in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood on April 7 after receiving intelligence information that the former Iraqi leader might have been there. Franks said on Sunday that forensics tests are being conducted to determine whether Saddam was killed in that attack.

While intermittent fighting rattled Saddam's ancestral home of Tikrit, one reporter near the city said that the area was "largely untouched" by looting. In other locations throughout the country, however, looters have taken supplies and furniture from Iraqi government buildings. Other civic structures have been smashed in occasional rioting.

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