- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

FORT HOOD, Texas, March 25 (UPI) — The families of American POWs expressed pride Tuesday in the soldiers and confidence that they would return safe after the war in Iraq.

Their comrades are praying for them at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss in Texas where the seven POWs are based and their families across the nation remained hopeful in meetings with reporters.

"Hopefully next time we meet we're celebrating the war is over and my son is home," said David Williams Sr. of Orland, Fla., his voice cracking with emotion.

His son, Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams, 30, and Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young, Jr., 26, were flying an AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter that went down behind enemy lines in Iraq. They were both displayed on television after their capture.

Williams's father told reporters outside his home that he was actually glad to see the pictures of his son because until then he had only known that he was missing in action.

"I was kinda relieved because that was my first knowledge that he was alive," he said.

Kaye Young, the mother of the other pilot, said her son was prepared for war.

"He had told me that if he was ever asked to give his life for his country that he hoped he would be able to do that honorably," she told CNN in an interview at her Atlanta-area home.

Williams and Young are members of the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, which shipped out in February. Other soldiers of 1st Cavalry and the 4th Infantry Division at the huge Army post have also received deployment orders.

Young has been in the service three years and is single. Williams, who has been in the service 12 years, has a wife and two children living on the Texas post, Army officials said.

Lt. Col. Paul Fisher said thoughts and prayers of the other soldiers at the post are with the POWs and their families.

"The soldiers are concerned about their fellow troopers, but we have a resolve to accomplish any mission we might be given," he said. "That resolve will not be shaken and it won't be drained."

The 12,500 soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division troops are preparing to deploy this week from Fort Hood and more than 17,000 1st Cavalry troops are awaiting final deployment orders at the post.

At Fort Bliss about 600 miles west of Fort Hood, officials released little information about 10 to 12 members of the 507th Maintenance Co. who were caught in an Iraqi ambush near An Nasiriyah last Sunday. At least five were taken prisoner and displayed on television as they were interviewed. The other seven are unaccounted for.

Families have identified the five POWs who range in age from 19 to 31 and come from Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, New Jersey. They were all trained at Fort Bliss as a support unit to supply mechanics to repair the Patriot missile trucks based at the Texas army post.

Families have identified the POWs as Spc. Edgar Hernandez, 21, of Mission, Texas; Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23, of Alamogordo, N.M.; Spc. Shoshanna Johnson, 30, of Medina, Texas; Pfc. Patrick Miller, 23, of Valley Center, Kan., and Sgt. James Riley, 31, Pennsauken, N.J.

Miller's sister told the Wichita Eagle-Beacon the family was proud of him.

"We're proud of how strong he looked on television," Kimberly Miller said.

"He held his head up high the whole time."

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