EL PASO, Texas – Five former prisoners of war spent the day with loved ones on Sunday while two of their comrades celebrated Easter with President Bush.
Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams and Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr., Apache helicopter pilots who were held captive in Iraq for three weeks, joined Bush at Easter services at the Ford Hood Army base.
After the services, Bush met with the two crewmen and their families, saying he had "a good talk with them. Good, strong men."
Williams, 30, of Orlando, Fla., said the meeting "was an absolute honor." Young, 26, of Lithia Springs, Ga., added that it was "definitely one of the highlights of my life, absolutely."
Williams and Young arrived at Fort Bliss on Saturday evening with the other five former POWs.
After a brief examination and a check of their medical files, the commander of the William Beaumont Army Medical Center said late Sunday that the five Fort Bliss soldiers could be headed home by the end of the week.
Col. Glenn Mitchell said it appeared that none would have to be hospitalized. He said most of the work on Sunday involved going through medical files from the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, where the POWs spent time after their release.
"We have done our best to leave these people with their families and loved ones," he said.
The soldiers spent the day with family members, sequestered at Fort Bliss where they will begin to ease back into life in the United States.
Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 30, from El Paso, who was shot in both ankles during the March 23 ambush that led to her capture, was using a wheelchair to get around. The others who were wounded have been able to walk on their own.
During an ambush near Nasiriyah, Iraq, nine members of the 507th Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss were killed and six taken prisoner, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital on April 1.
Lynch is still recovering from her injuries at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
The 507th soldiers taken prisoner were: Johnson; Joseph Hudson, 23, Alamogordo, N.M.; Spc. Edgar Hernandez, 21, Mission; Pfc. Patrick Miller, 23, Park City, Kan.; and Sgt. James Riley, 31, Pennsauken, N.J.
Williams and Young were captured a day later when their helicopter went down during heavy fighting in central Iraq.