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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Family of Rescued POW Holds News Conference

Aired April 13, 2003 - 11:05   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go back to the Young family. I understand we're about to get some more reaction from the family of Ronald Young. Do we have that right now?
QUESTION: Congratulations.

KAYE YOUNG, APACHE PILOT'S MOTHER: Thank you.

RONALD YOUNG, SR., FATHER: Thanks so much. We were so very happy that they were able to get them out today. The only thing we have concern now is for the MIAs. We're going to continue to pray for them because that is an important thing, too.

You know, it's not all over, but for us, our son being back home is the greatest thing in the world. Nobody could have ever given me a greater gift than this. I felt so up today, I think it made me feel back to the time he was born, I believe. It was indicative of that, and I'm so thankful.

I'm so thankful for the support of all the people that have been around us that have done so much for us, the community. Even the news people, I mean, they've been really great and all these things have helped support us through this difficult situation and given us the ability to survive this. And if it had turned out another way, I don't know what would have happened. It didn't and I'm so thankful, you know, that I just give thanks every day for this.

QUESTION: How did you find out this morning?

R. YOUNG: OK, well, my daughter -- my daughter-in-law called me about -- I came home about 3:00 this morning off of a train run, and my daughter called me and they said they had some breaking news about the POWs. And when it came on, they were talking about POWs, and then they said MIAs, you know, and there were six, then there was seven. They wasn't sure who it was. I was elated at first, and then kind of down a little bit because -- then later on they said it was the seven POWs, and it turned out to be them and, man, I was just -- it's been uphill ever since.

QUESTION: When you saw the picture, what was your first thought, and how did he look?

R. YOUNG: He looked good, and my first thought was, he's happy to get out of there. I could see how fast he was walking.

QUESTION: He was smiling. He had a big smile. K. YOUNG: He was excited. He was so excited. He was just -- I mean, Ron has this smile that is just from ear to ear, and you could just see it. And we were just so excited. That's all I can think of is excited.

But we want to thank those people that went in after him, and the Marines, whoever was involved, the Iraqis that took good care of them. He looks thin but he looks good, and we're just so thankful to our heavenly father and to all those who had something to do with it.

QUESTION: You never lost faith?

K. YOUNG: No, I always thought he was coming home. I had this peace about me, and always felt it in the back of my mind. I kept, you know, thinking, I have to be prepared to accept God's will. But we are so thankful that this went good for all of them. I mean, all seven. Can you believe that? That is amazing.

R. YOUNG: It is amazing.

K. YOUNG: Awesome, yes.

R. YOUNG: I'm so happy for all of them and everybody...

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you watch the video this morning, and see him?

R. YOUNG: Most exciting movie I've seen for the last 20 years.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Mr. Young, you had said that you were hopeful that he'd be treated okay, because he was on television, and that way they knew that we knew.

R. YOUNG: Right.

QUESTION: But after the fall of Saddam, with the loss of the government structure there, you had to have been a little bit worried?

R. YOUNG: I was worried. There's no doubt about that. I had some gray days right there, where I'd slump into something and say well, what if and what if? And I rode with a guy last night, Gus Vasquez, the engineer, and he said, man, you've got to keep the faith. You've got to stay up for it and expect it to happen, and that's really what you got to do. You've got to have enough faith to believe it will turn out the way you want it to.

QUESTION: He's going to come home and be like, all right. You knew I'd be all right.

K. YOUNG: You can't believe the blessings that have come out of this. Even as sad as we were, as upset as we were, to think that he was being held, there has been so many blessings. I can't tell you, the letters and the cards and the phone calls and the presents and the flowers and baskets, and I mean, it's just unbelievable. All over this country, people cared so much about us and about our son, and it has just -- it's made us different people, too.

R. YOUNG: Well, not only this country we've had concerns come as far as England and Australia, as well, and I mean...

K. YOUNG: Japan.

R. YOUNG: Yes, we've just had a lot of people that was interested in this. We're so thankful for the support, for the opportunity.

QUESTION: Tell us about the homecoming. Have you planned it yet?

R. YOUNG: I don't know what to plan, really. What I'd like to do is kind of keep everything quiet and say, well, we'll had a couple of phone calls, and let him see it for himself.

QUESTION: If you can get over to Germany, for instance, would you go over?

R. YOUNG: Well, we're talking about that. I have a friend that said he could get us buddy passes for us, and we may be able to go over there. That's an option.

K. YOUNG: He looked so good, they may just send him home.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: You know when you'll be able to speak to him?

R. YOUNG: No, nobody said anything about when we'd be able to speak to him. We've been notified by his casualty officer, CW-3 James, I mean, Johnson. He's in there with us right now, he's waiting for further word as to what happens next but we have -- as soon as we find out something we'll let you know.

QUESTION: What will you say to him?

YOUNG: So proud of you and I love you better than anything in the world but don't scare me like that anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: What about the celebrations going on inside, and what did you do initially when you found out?

R. YOUNG: Well, when I initially found out that I saw him, it was just like, you know, somebody had won the World Series. Everybody was jumping around and hollering and, you know, it was just great. To me it was the best thing in the world. It was, you know, the culmination -- maybe the greatest point in my life. I don't know.

QUESTION: What about the celebrations going on inside?

R. YOUNG: We have a lot of people in there all in there talking to each other and, you know, one another. But they are doing whatever they want to do in there, talking to each other. I don't know exactly what kind of celebration you call it. Just kind of an off the cuff kind of thing. But we have a lot of people in there and a lot of them -- you know, some of them I'm not even sure I even know, but this is not the celebration. The celebration will be when he comes home. I mean, this is -- of course, now that I know that he's OK, I'm not worried about him. I mean, now that I've seen him out of those hands over there and safe with, you know, back with the forces now, I just -- that's all I hoped for right there.

QUESTION: A lot of times people who have been wounded or taken briefly talk about going back, going back to their unit as long as their unit is over there, and you would know that from Vietnam. What would you say if Ron said, I want to go back, dad?

R. YOUNG: I'd say, let's talk about that.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: He will want to.

K. YOUNG: So not tomorrow.

QUESTION: Yes, let's...

K. YOUNG: He will want to go back. We know he will.

R. YOUNG: They take the risk. That's what they told me about Dave Williams. Someone was telling me that they knew he would be one of the type that would want to go right back over there. They've got a job to do, and have to go over there, that's fine. But I hope they get some better aircraft or something so they stay in the air.

(LAUGHTER)

K. YOUNG: Now, you know, that is the best. We don't know what happened yet. But, you know, we're so thankful. I mean, it's a miracle. And we always said if prayers could bring him home, he'd be here and they did.

R. YOUNG: And they did, that's right. That's exactly right.

K. YOUNG: All our prayers are answered.

QUESTION: Your faith is the number one thing that got you through this ordeal?

R. YOUNG: That, plus the support we had from all the people. Those are the two things that got us through this. Yes.

QUESTION: You had said that with the sale of the tee shirts that you would probably take the money and have Ron give it to a charity or something like that.

R. YOUNG: Right, whatever he wants to do.

QUESTION: Have you decided what to do with that, yet? R. YOUNG: Whatever he wants to do with it. I mean, I'd like to see him give it to a charity, maybe like the children's hospitals or something like that, you know, the Shriners or anything. Whatever he wants to do, it's his. If somebody helped him over there, maybe there was a family that might have helped him out. If he wants to he can use the money for that, or whatever. Whatever he warrants to do.

K. YOUNG: We were told that when they raised the money that if we wanted to fly to Germany, the money would be there. But like I said, someone offered us, the Rosses, that are good, old friends of us, they offered us buddy passes. So we don't know what will's happen at this point.

R. YOUNG: If we get a chance to go --

K. YOUNG: Just as long as he's all right, we don't care.

R. YOUNG: That's the main thing right there.

QUESTION: How proud are you of him right now?

R. YOUNG: About as proud as you can be of anybody. I wouldn't be more prouder if he was the president of the United States. I'm really proud of him.

QUESTION: Could you tell how well he held up during the captivity just by looking at those pictures?

R. YOUNG: Well, he looked exuberant when he came off that thing. He looked happy, you know, it looked like he didn't have anything really bad wrong with him. I imagine they treated him fairly well. I mean, I don't think it was like being at the Ritz. But they treated better him than it was expected. I guess. I don't know. I'm just guessing.

K. YOUNG: His facing looked thin, you know. He -- we could tell he lost some weight, but that's to be expected. And we just can't believe he looked that good. I mean to run, you know. That's right.

QUESTION: Never seen him with a beard?

K. YOUNG: No. I was like, oh, my goodness. Everybody keeps saying looks like Mark, my other son over -- over there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He does. He looks just like Mark.

QUESTION: What would you say to him if he said, I want to keep that beard?

R. YOUNG: Well, it's up to him. That thing looks a little like Maynard G. Cribs, though.

K. YOUNG: He doesn't have a lot of facial hair so he probably won't want to.

R. YOUNG: But we're proud of him and we're thankful he's back home and it's the greatest day of my life. That's all, you know. That's the capitulation of what I've hoped for. This is the greatest thing in the world.

QUESTION: And you've talked about this before. There are some families whose children are not coming home.

R. YOUNG: Right.

QUESTION: They were lost. Anything you'd like to say to them right now?

R. YOUNG: My heart goes out to them and I -- you know, and they have, they've got to realize that their sons, their daughters are the bravest, and have sacrificed the very most. That's the ultimate sacrifice, and I hope, you know, and they'll see them again, maybe not in this life, but I feel like they'll see them again in a place of honor.

K. YOUNG: And we would like to tell the other MIA parents not to give up hope. You know, to believe they're coming home and pray for it and, you know, we're going to start praying hard about that and we want to see them come home, too. And, you know, we're just in awe of these people that went in and risked their lives to get these guys.

R. YOUNG: They're the greatest.

K. YOUNG: And they -- they are heroes. They are heroes, and there's no two ways about it. I hope I get to hug all their necks.

QUESTION: You may not know or be able to say, but do you know whether the Americans had help from the Iraqis, from any Iraqis, in finding them?

R. YOUNG: I'm not sure. I don't know.

K. YOUNG: We don't know anything except he's out.

R. YOUNG: The thing that I had heard was that there were some Iraqis that turned them over to them, and I guess it was for, you know, for special treatment or whatever. That's probably what they were holding them for, was some kind of special treatment. That's what I thought they was, anyway, so I'm not sure about that.

K. YOUNG: Talk about the memorabilia for the -- we laughed about this.

KELLY LIVELEY, RON YOUNG, JR.'S SISTER: We were talking about one day last week we got tickled about all this Ron memorabilia we have on. We've got helicopter necklaces and bracelets and we just think that Ron is going to be very amused by all the stuff.

K. YOUNG: The Ron memorabilia.

R. YOUNG: I think he may be overwhelmed.

K. YOUNG: He will. He will but he's going to probably look at us and go, I don't believe this.

QUESTION: So you collected it for him?

K. YOUNG: Oh yes, we have one of everything for him.

R. YOUNG: We have scrapbooks.

K. YOUNG: We have five scrapbooks that thick of cards and letters from everywhere, beautiful, beautiful items.

R. YOUNG: He hasn't been gone but a month. I don't know what it would be like if he was gone a year.

K. YOUNG: It's only been three weeks.

R. YOUNG: Is that right? Oh, my goodness. I was way off.

K. YOUNG: It seemed like about six months.

R. YOUNG: It seems like it's been six years, I tell you what. It's put a drain on me.

K. YOUNG: It has. It's been very emotional, wonderful in some ways to see everything everybody does, but then it's also been very emotionally draining.

R. YOUNG: It has. It has really been a tough thing for us as far as emotions are concerned, but the end, the culmination of it is -- couldn't ask for anything better.

K. YOUNG: Ronnie tells the lord this is the only thing he's ever going to ask for.

R. YOUNG: That's right.

QUESTION: Before he went over to the Persian Gulf did he say anything about his thoughts on the war or the dangers he's been in?

R. YOUNG: No, you know, but I tell you what. He's not one to tell you how much he loves you all the time, especially with his brothers and sisters, but he began doing that and I kind of felt like, you know, he may think he's going into some kind of situation where he would be in trouble. I mean, just as a thought. Sure enough, of course, he did. It was a situation where he was in trouble.

K. YOUNG: I talked to him about going over there, and, you know, Ron's a very affectionate guy. I think it's just a little more with mothers and sisters than brothers, probably. But we actually talked about if he was captured, and I mean we were joking. I said, Ron, if you go down over there and you get captured, you just know your mamma's going to be crying. And he'd say, mother, nothing is going to happen to me. You know, I'm fine.

And, of course, you know, they're always saying they won't get me. I have one left in the chamber or something, you know. So I said, no, then your mother would cry worse. We would joke about stuff like that. You know, at the end. But we had some serious conversations, too, and I think he really -- I mean, he realized that going in there, you know, a lot of them were not going to come out. And he talked about my mom and dad, the last time he saw them, he had tears in his eyes. And it was because he said he didn't know if his grandpa, if he would be all right by the time he got back. Or if something happened to him, but he was afraid he wouldn't see them again. So he was very much aware that they were going into danger.

QUESTION: You all talked about the faith that got you through this. What do you think got Ron, Jr. through this?

R. YOUNG: I think it had to be part of the faith, too. I'm sure once they picked him up he probably did a lot of soul searching. He had a lot of time on his hands, and I'm sure he did a lot of praying himself. I would be, if I was in that situation.

K. YOUNG: And he could feel everybody's prayers, too. The spirit had to be strong with him and Dave, because we prayed for them and the other POWs, the MIAs, the Iraqis. We prayed for Saddam Hussein, that his heart would be softened. So, I mean, everybody was prayed for and I know he felt it.

LIVELEY: I think that we felt the spirit and felt uplifted and a can't imagine how he did not feel that. Because I feel like the only way that we got through this was through the spirit of the lord. We have felt so much peace and so much comfort during this time.

QUESTION: So it's a special Palm Sunday?

K. YOUNG: Oh, yes.

R. YOUNG: This really is. It's a terrific Palm Sunday.

K. YOUNG: And tomorrow is my birthday, and it is a very special birthday present, too.

QUESTION: Happy birthday.

K. YOUNG: Thank you. The only present we want.

R. YOUNG: That's right.

QUESTION: What will Easter be like next week?

R. YOUNG: I don't know. If I get anything better than this -- I can't wait to get there.

K. YOUNG: No, we'll be in church and we'll be prayerful and we'll thank our savior for the sacrifice he made, and I just -- I thank him today. You know, it's just unbelievable.

R. YOUNG: It's God bless our country. God bless our troops. They're the greatest and the best in the world and, you know, we're just so thankful for all of them that they didn't give up. We are.

K. YOUNG: We need to all give special thanks for our troops, because, I mean, they have fought hard. It's dirty. It's sandy. I mean, they're having to really work to do this. I mean, they can't take baths. They probably get nothing much to eat, MR-3s.

R. YOUNG: MREs.

K. YOUNG: MREs. And, you know, they are just exhausted, probably, in most cases, and they have done incredible. So our hats are off to them.

R. YOUNG: She knows because she's been there, right?

K. YOUNG: No, I've watched them.

R. YOUNG: I know. That's the truth, though. They have really done an outstanding job over there and I know they've had some real difficult hardships to overcome. My heart really goes out to those who have lost loved ones in that war and, like I say, the lord will sustain them. That's the only thing they can -- well, that's the only thing they need to look to.

HARRIS: You've been listening here to the comments of the Young family. You see there Ron Young, Sr. and Kaye Young expressing their jubilation this morning at the news their son Ron Young, Jr., the Apache helicopter pilot who's been missing for weeks now in Iraq, word and pictures now, of his release today coming in.

We've heard their comments -- they've mentioned many, many times about how their faith got them through as well as the support they've received from other military families, and also from people around the world who have been sending them things. They said they filled scrapbooks at their home.

But they also tempered a lot of their remarks and expressions of joy with concern for families of those who are not going to be coming home, families of those still missing in action. They did tell us this morning they had a sense all along that things would work out for their son, and it appears they have.

And this is some kind of a birthday gift for mom. Kaye Young has just told us tomorrow is her birthday, and it is even more reason to celebrate.

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