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Friday, April 18

Former POWs expected in U.S. Saturday

By Charles K. Wilson | El Paso Times

EL PASO, Texas - Seven former prisoners of war - five soldiers from Fort Bliss' 507th Maintenance Company and two Fort Hood Apache helicopter pilots - are expected to arrive at Fort Bliss on Saturday.

"All seven will arrive at Fort Bliss where the five members of the 507th Maintenance Company will be reunited with their families and their unit leadership," said Jean Offutt, a spokeswoman for the post. Two pilots from Fort Hood will then continue to their post.

Phyllis Hudman, mother-in-law of Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23, of Alamogordo, N.M., one of the former POWs, said her family had received a notice that the soldiers would arrive at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Officials at Fort Bliss said the time of their arrival is still not set.

"They're leaving tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon from Germany," said Landstuhl Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Marie Shaw by phone Friday.

In addition to Hudson, the Fort Bliss soldiers who will return Saturday are Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 30, of El Paso, Spc. Edgar Hernandez, 21, of Alton, Texas; Pfc. Patrick Miller, 23, Park City, Kan.; and Sgt. James Riley, 31, Pennsauken, N.J. Another former POW from the 507th, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, of Palestine, W.Va., who was rescued April 1 in Nasiriyah in southeastern Iraq, continues to undergo treatment for her injuries at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The two Apache pilots are Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams, 30, Orlando, Fla.; and Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young, 26, Lithia Springs, Ga.

"I'm excellent," Hudman said Hudson told her when he called earlier this week from Landstuhl. She said the soldiers have been overwhelmed by the attention they have been getting.

"He has no clue what's happening," Hudman said. "He said they were attacked yesterday when they went to eat by everyone asking for autographs. They were prisoners of war, which was a horrible experience, and it's hard for them to relate to fame that has come into their lives."

The seven soldiers met the news media in Germany on Good Friday, with Williams serving as the spokesman for the group.

"We all would like to thank our Americans for the tremendous support we've been getting, and we're looking forward to coming home as soon as we possibly can," Williams said. Williams urged Americans to pray for U.S. troops still in Iraq.

Several members of the 507th were injured during the March 23 ambush at Nasiriyah when they were taken prisoner. Johnson, who was shot in both ankles, was lifted up by a couple of her comrades to meet the crowd on hand at Landstuhl. Johnson was in a wheelchair.

Also wounded were Hernandez and Hudson. Hernandez was shot in the elbow, said Col. David Rubenstein, commander of the medical center. He had no information on Hudson's injuries. Hudman said Hudson, her son-in-law, said he was hit by "three rounds" during the ambush at Nasiriyah.