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Marines Make Way Through Boobytrapped Town; Powell Not Told About Questionable Nature of Intel Sources; Jordanians Unite Against Bombers; Chairman of Joint Chiefs Shares Vietnam Memories
Aired November 11, 2005 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN's global headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Kyra Phillips. Here's what we're working on for you right now.
Operation Steel Curtain. This hour our reporter embedded with soldiers and Marines tracking down Iraqi insurgents. She's going to join me live.
And this rocking hour of CNN's LIVE FROM starts right now.
Day seven now of the U.S. Marine operation to root out insurgents near the Syrian border. They're having to move gingerly through western Karabila, battling what can only be described as an unseen enemy, improvised explosive devices.
CNN producer Arwa Damon, embedded with the Marines, says that part of the town is literally a mine field. The insurgents who were there have vanished, leaving IEDs buried everywhere. Five Marines wounded after stepping off the pressure plate, setting off one of those hidden explosives.
Arwa's with us now on the phone.
You've been right there in the middle of it, Arwa. Tell me what it's been like sort of making your way through these minefields.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, going through the city, part of western Karabila is incredibly intense. Actually, it started yesterday and last night there was another incident where a Marine stepped on, again, a pressure plate hidden underneath the ground, and it detonated and he was killed. An Iraqi army soldier was wounded along with that.
So it's very ginger going. It's very intense in so many ways because both the Marines and the Iraqi army soldiers know as they go through these streets that at any point in time anything can detonate. They cannot see the face of the enemy that they're fighting, unlike in Husayba, the city that they just finished clearing, where it was more of a front-on battlefield.
It was an enemy who was firing at them, something that they could identify, someone who they could fire back at, whereas fighting this kind of unseen enemy here, looking for these IEDs. Essentially, you know, as one Marine said to me earlier, this is an enemy who doesn't need food, doesn't need water, doesn't need sleep, and can lie and wait for days, weeks, months even years and be just as deadly -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Arwa, you have an advantage in that you speak Arabic. It's allowed to you see both sides of this story: the side of the military and also the side of the civilians. Tell me what it's like communicating with the people that live there, what they're telling you, and how hard this has been to watch loved ones die in the middle of all this.
DAMON: You know, it's an advantage, and at the same time maybe on some level it's not a disadvantage but it does make everything so much more intense. Going through the city, going through Husayba with the Marines and the Iraqi army, speaking with the civilians, you got the whole range of -- you can see the fear in people's eyes, and because I speak Arabic I could hear them talk to me about it. They're very apprehensive as to what's going on.
This is an area that has been under the control of the insurgents for so long. They want to have faith. They want to have a better future. And right now they're just frightened.
And I think the hardest part of it is when they look at me as an Arabic speaker and they ask me, "Why? Why is this happening to us? Why has this happened to us?"
And the biggest issue that the residents who I spoke to most recently have had have been the airstrikes in the southern portion of the sector, where there were numerous air strikes. That area was heavily fortified by the insurgents. And I was there a few days ago with our cameraman, Neil Hallsworth (ph), and we were watching civilians pulling bodies out from underneath the rubble, bodies of children. An entire house that collapsed with 17 people underneath it as a result of an air strike.
And the residents look at you as a reporter, and they look at me as an Arabic speaker and they expect you to have all the answers, to be able to answer that question of "Why is this happening to us? Do you think this is fair?" And essentially, there really is no response that you can give to that -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Wow. Well, Arwa, this is an area you also know very well. You were there about a year ago, I think it was. I remember the piece where these schools had been turned into torture houses. Is it the same now?
DAMON: Actually, Kyra, it's a very different battlefield. That incident you're talking about, that operation was in June. It was called Operation Spear.
And the city was a little bit more populated back then, and we have gone through and we have found, as you say, that torture house, where we found four hostages still in handcuffs, their wrists swollen to the point where the Marines could barely break through the handcuffs. Now that building is deserted.
Next-door to it was what was back then an IED school with a blackboard, with instructions on how to make IEDs. Today we went into that building. It's been turned into an IED factory with a kind of water storage unit that was buried underground, hidden very well. And like so many other parts of this area, much more heavily IED'd than they were last time and entirely deserted of all civilians -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Arwa, thank you so much. Arwa Damon there with her exclusive report. Incredible work, Arwa.
And just as we're talking to her we are learning about a developing story. Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's deputy possibly dead. Tony Harris working this in our newsroom right now.
Tony, is it true? What do you know?
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that's still the question. It's still an open question right now, Kyra. But as you mentioned, Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri, a top deputy to Saddam Hussein when Saddam was ruling the country, has died. Now, this is according to the Al Arabiya satellite network.
Now, as soon as I tell you that, I need to follow that closely with this statement. He has been erroneously reported dead before. So we are going to do our level best to confirm this story independent of the reporting that's being done now by Al Arabiya.
But Kyra, this is significant, if true, because Al-Douri was the most senior member of Saddam's former regime still at large, and you'll recall, he was No. 6 in that deck of cards of most wanted Iraqis. Of the 55 most wanted Iraqis, he was No. 6, and there was a $10 million bounty, reward for his capture.
So we're going to continue to work this. I'll head on over to the international desk and find out what more we know about the situation right now, but here is the reporting as we know it from Al Arabiya, that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a top deputy to Saddam Hussein, Kyra, has died. But we're going to try our level best to get this confirmed independently of Al Arabiya.
PHILLIPS: All right. I'll tell you what. We're check in with you over there at the CNN International desk as you work information, as they're working the phones. Tony, we'll see you in just a little bit. Thanks so much.
Well, insurgents take aim once more at Iraqis trying to keep the peace. Three police officers are killed when the gunmen in two vehicles had opened fire. It happened at a checkpoint in central Baqubah.
Another police patrol was targeted in Baghdad. Three officers there and a civilian were wounded in that attack.
And a surprise visit in the middle of everything. A personal appeal from America's secretary of state, who's now in Iraq.
Condoleezza Rice began her day visiting U.S. troops at a base near Mosul, just north of Baghdad. She reviewed three combined military civilian units, who move into the violent areas once the insurgents are gone, trying to quickly establish order there.
And meanwhile, in Iraq's capital she met with several prominent Sunni Arab leaders, urging them to speak up as Iraqis head back to the polls next month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Any people coming out of a period of tyranny, as the Iraqis have, and now out of a period of violence have to find the balance between inclusion and reconciliation and justice. And that is a process that I'm sure the Iraqis themselves will lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, four years after the 9/11 attacks, three years after declaring major combat over in Iraq, President Bush is again defending his war on terror and the war in Iraq. The backdrop this time, a Veterans Day speech in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Bush took the stage at a time of multiple setbacks: that indictment of a senior White House official in the CIA leak scandal, passing the grim milestone of more than 2,000 American troops killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and a barrage of fresh charges that the administration manipulated prewar intel to justify the invasion.
Well, Mr. Bush minced no words in brushing aside his critics and vowing to fight until the wars on terror and Iraq are won.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Now Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy was quick to respond to Mr. Bush's speech. Kennedy called the president's remarks "deeply regrettable." He says Mr. Bush was using Veterans Day to rebuild his own credibility.
President Bush told the American people Iraq must be invaded because Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Three years after the start of the war those weapons haven't been found.
National security correspondent David Ensor looks back at one dramatic moment when the administration made its case clear for war and its damaging fallout.
COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq's biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He makes a dramatic accusation: Saddam has bioweapons labs mounted on trucks that would be almost impossible to find.
POWELL: We have firsthand descriptions...
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, CHIEF OF STAFF TO COLIN POWELL: Secretary Powell was not told that one of the sources he was given as a source of this information had indeed been flagged by the defense intelligence agency as a liar, a fabricator.
POWELL: To find even one of these 18...
ENSOR: Powell was also not told that the prime source, an Iraqi defector code named Curveball, had never been debriefed by the CIA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe the name of the agent wasn't alarming enough. Maybe it should have been Screw-up or, you know, A Lying Sack of Manure, something like that. But you know, to know that you're giving the president a ticket to go to war based upon one source, at that point you'd want to drag the source in and talk to him yourself.
WILKERSON: Curveball is a case of utter irresponsibility and a good example of how decayed the intelligence process has become.
ENSOR: The day before Powell's speech, a CIA skeptic had warned about the defector's reputation as a liar. In an e-mail reply, his superior acknowledges the program but adds, "This war is going to happen regardless. The powers that be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he's talking about."
POWELL: The United States will not and cannot...
ENSOR: Powell was not told about the e-mail.
POWELL: Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option. Not in a post-September 11 world.
ENSOR: The speech would turn out to be riddled with misleading allegations. But at the time the press plays it as an overwhelming success.
WILKERSON: He had walked into my office musing, and he said words to the effect of, "I wonder how we'll all feel if we put half a million troops into Iraq and march from one corner of the country to the other and find nothing.
PHILLIPS: Well, straight ahead, new arrests and new details of the deadly terror attacks in Jordan. We're live in Amman with an update on that investigation. The news keeps coming in. We're going to keep bringing it to you. More LIVE FROM straight ahead.
ANNOUNCER: You're watching LIVE FROM on CNN, the most trusted name in news.
PHILLIPS: Live now in B Control. Shock, anger, and steely resolve in Jordan as king and country unite over the terror bombings that ripped through Amman on Wednesday.
At least 12 people have been arrested, and King Abdullah II is vowing to bring those perpetrators to justice.
A group claiming to be the al Qaeda in Iraq has posted Internet boasts about the explosions that continue to claim victims. Although the posts can't be verified, Jordanian and U.S. officials agree these attacks have all the hallmarks.
CNN's Jon Mann with more on where the investigation stands right now.
Jon, tell us about the arrests that have been made.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, we don't know a great deal, but what I can tell you is this: you're absolutely right. At least 12 people are known to have been arrested. That much has been confirmed for us by the Jordanian government. And they've been identified as citizens of Jordan and Iraq.
Once again, Iraq -- Iraqis seem to be very close to the center of whatever it was that happened here, the attacks that took the lives of more than 56 people. At least two of the bombers, their remains have been identified as Iraqi, as well.
We have seen reports that talk about a great many more arrests than that, more than 100. Right now those are reports and rumors. The government is saying 12. But Jordanians and Iraqis, they're starting to rule some people and some possibilities out -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Obviously, so much happening behind you. I want to talk about the protests in a minute. But as you talk about these arrests, John, we don't want to forget about the victims that lost their lives in these explosions. We're learning so much more about these individuals as people, as fathers, as wives. Tell us about Moustapha Akkad.
MANN: One of the great tragedies of this set of attacks, I suppose like any attack, is so many different kinds of people were caught up in this, innocent people all, among them Moustapha Akkad, who you mentioned, at age 75 should be well known to many of our viewers from his work.
He is a Syrian American who made the "Halloween" movies, the horror movies that so many of us saw all those years. The odd irony is he also made a movie, a profile, a biography of Mohammed, a film of course about Islam's prophet. And here a man whose work embraced both Islam and also horror dies in a scene of horror that is being blamed on people who say they are acting in Islam's name.
His daughter was among the casualties, a woman who lived in Beirut, and now Moustapha Akkad, age 75, is dead of a heart attack and injuries, as well -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: And because of lives lost like Moustapha and others who we've been talking about, John, the protests continue behind you. An incredible backlash going on. Muslims speaking out against extremists, calling for the head of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Have those protests been going on all through the night, and do you think these protests could finally lead to the whereabouts of Zarqawi and those who are committing these attacks?
MANN: This is the most extraordinary thing. If whoever carried out these attacks was trying to sow fear or instability, they failed twice over. The streets are crowded. People are not afraid to be out now. And instability, just the opposite. Ever since King Abdullah came to power, there has never been an outpouring of support like the one we're seeing here for him and against extremism.
This is a country where most Jordanians, leading Jordanians, pollsters would tell you al Qaeda used to be popular. It's not clear exactly how about a hit its reputation has taken here, but it has taken a hit. In this country, the war on terror may really have turned the corner.
This is an extraordinary turnaround for a lot of ordinary Jordanians, who basically supported a lot of the insurgents in Iraq, who supported some of the worst Palestinian terror. They are now seeing their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers as victims, and it's changing a lot of people's minds. They're out in the street to prove it -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Jonathan Mann, we'll continue to go back to the streets and check in with you on how those protests keep rolling. Jon, thank you so much.
Meanwhile, in medical news today, Kuwait confirms the highly lethal H5-N1 strain of bird flu was found in one of two infected birds culled by authorities. It's the first documented appearance of the virus in the Middle East and was detected in a migratory flamingo.
Amid this news, Hong Kong's scientists say that this virus continues to exhibit ominous echoes of the highly lethal virus that caused the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Like the 1918 flu, the H5-N1 virus has shown to be especially lethal in young adults who get it.
Now, the reason may be an immune system overreaction called a cytokine storm. A study in the online journal Respiratory Research suggests that H5-N1 may trigger a rush of these chemical, which may then overwhelm the body.
Well, we're getting new details right now of that possible death of a senior member of Saddam Hussein's former regime. Our international desk working that story right now. So is our Tony Harris. He's talking with those working the phones.
LIVE FROM has got the news you want. Stay with us.
PHILLIPS: Well, honoring Americans who have served in the military in war and peace, Veterans Day was marked with a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Present arms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Vice President Dick Cheney placed a wreath at the tomb on what he called a day of reflection and appreciation. It holds remains of unidentified U.S. dead from three wars: World War I, World War II, and Korea. Remains from the Vietnam War were later identified and returned to the serviceman's family.
In London, Big Ben tolled and people across Europe stopped for two minutes of silence to honor servicemen and women. In Europe, November 11 is still known as Armistice Day, 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, the day in 1918 when World War I, the great war, ended.
Now live pictures at the Vietnam War memorial in Washington. A Veterans Day speech by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Peter Pace, the first Marine to hold that post. Pace is honoring the many men and women who lost their lives in Vietnam, a particularly divisive and painful war for this country and the troops that fought there, General Pace among them.
He's getting ready to speak. And of course, we'll bring that to you live as soon as it happens.
Meanwhile, CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr talks about General Pace.
GEN. PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS: And this is a picture of one young 2nd Lieutenant Peter Pace.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vietnam, 1968. Peter Pace thought he knew himself back then, but one day everything changed. He lost his first man. He still keeps Guido Faranara's picture on his desk.
PACE: Guido Faranara was killed by a sniper. I was so enraged that I called in an artillery strike on the village from which the sniper had fired.
I knew I was doing the wrong thing. I called off the artillery strike, and I did what we should have done, which was sweep through the village on foot. And when we went through that village, we found nothing but women and children.
STARR: In September Pace was sworn in as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. He is President Bush's senior military adviser. He knows firsthand how tough combat can be.
PACE: I was scared in combat. Very scared. I think I used the phrase that if I could have crawled up inside my helmet and waited for my Mom to call me home I would have.
STARR: Corporal Mike Ervin was with Pace's unit.
MIKE ERVIN, VIETNAM VETERAN: He may feel guilty under the circumstances that he knows and how he survived. Someone stands up in front of him and gets hit with a round that could have just easily hit him.
STARR (on camera): Tell me about Staff Sergeant Williams.
PACE: Staff Sergeant Williams. Oh.
STARR (voice-over): It was August 18, 1968.
PACE: As I stood up, Staff Sergeant Williams stepped across in front of me, and as he did he took a round right in his side that would have -- it was right in the middle of my -- right in the middle of my chest.
STARR: When he talks of his men, you hear roll call across the decades.
PACE: I remember Lance Corporal Chubby Hale, Lance Corporal Whitey Travers, Corporal Mike Witt, Staff Sergeant Freddy Williams, Lance Corporal Little Joe Arnold, Lance Corporal John Miller. I can tell you where they died. I knew where they were from.
If I was sitting here not remembering the individuals who lost their lives under my command, not remembering Vietnam, I should not be chairman.
STARR: Pace knows Americans are doubting this war. But this time they support the troops.
PACE: That is vastly different than it was 40 years ago. The polls that show that some Americans are concerned, as I understand they should and could be about what's going on in Iraq.
STARR: A photograph in his office sums up Pace's past and his present.
PACE: This is a picture of Marines actually going into Baghdad early on in, what, May of 2003. It looked just like I remembered going across the bridge into Hu City (ph).
STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
PHILLIPS: November 11. It's Veterans Day. But that was not always the case. Here's the facts.
KAGAN (voice-over): It was on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 that an armistice effectively ended World War I. One year later President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first commemoration of Armistice Day. And that became a federal holiday in 1938.
After World War II and the Korean War, Congress amended the 1938 law to change the word "armistice" to "veterans." And the nation's first Veterans Day was observed November 11, 1954.
It stayed that way until 1968, when an act of Congress led to a decade of confusion. The idea: extend weekends and give the economy a boost by shifting four national holidays to Mondays. The new law went into effect for Veterans Day in 1971, officially recognized on October 25 of that year.
Veterans groups in many states didn't like that change. They saw November 11, as a date of historic and patriotic significance and continued their commemoration on that day. President Ford signed the law restoring the original date in 1975. But it was another three years before the law went into effect, ending a period of dual observances.
Since 1978, Americans have been able to mark November 11 on the calendar for Veterans Day, regardless of the day of the week. Today, America honors the 24.4 million living veterans.
PHILLIPS: And the news keeps coming. Of course we're going to keep bringing it to you. Right now quickly, we want to go to Tony Harris once again in the newsroom, working that story out of Iraq, possibly one of Saddam's deputies, right, Tony?
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that's right, Kyra. And you know, we continue -- we're over here at the international desk just trying to follow as many leads on this story as we can. And it's a story, as you mentioned, that's being reported by Al-Arabiya, the satellite television operation in Dubai. And the story is that Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri, a top deputy to Saddam Hussein, has died.
Now here's the thing, Kyra, just a couple of moments ago we had no details on this, where he died, how he died. We have a little bit more information now. And the question if is, how did Al-Arabiya learn of this? Well, Kyra, apparently, in a press release from the Baath Party. Apparently, the Baath Party is still issuing press releases. Where is the headquarters of the Baath Party in Iraq these days?
Apparently, the statement goes on to suggest, at least, that Al- Douri died of natural causes, whatever that means. He apparently wasn't killed in a battle, was not wounded.
Now, we are independently trying to confirm all of this reporting. It must be noted that Al-Douri has been erroneously reported dead before. Let's underline that. Let's put an asterisk beside it, that he has been erroneously reported dead before.
Now if all of this reporting is true, it's significant, Kyra, because, again, it's coming from this press release from the Baath Party, Al-Douri was the most senior member of Saddam Hussein's regime still at large. And remember, he was number six, the king of spades. I think we showed you that just a moment ago in the deck of cards, the 55 most-wanted Iraqis. So there he is right there as number six, the king of spades, $10 million reward.
Ten of clubs? Is that what I'm saying? King of clubs. OK, king of clubs.
Also important to know that there was a $10 million reward out for his capture. Al-Douri is, was, Kyra, 63 years old. We'll continue to work this story, and I'll try to independently get my hands on the actual press release from the Baath Party.
Kyra, back to you.
PHILLIPS: All right. Appreciate it. Tony Harris, thank you so much.
Well, straight ahead, of course we've been talking so much about Veterans Day. So we have two special guests that are joining us, two very special friends of mine that know exactly what it's like to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the cost that it takes on you spiritually and emotionally.
A quick break, more LIVE FROM right after this.
PHILLIPS: Captain Dan Gate on duty in Iraq, commander of Delta Company 19th Infantry. His mission: to find and destroy some of the deadliest weapons in the insurgents' arsenal, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
But one day suddenly there was an explosion, and you're looking through the door of Captain Gade's Humvee after it struck one of those IEDs. Gade lost his leg in that incident.
And in the moments that followed, a medical and spiritual response to the biggest crisis in Captain Gade's life, a dramatic story detailed in "Reflections From the Battlefield," written by Navy Chaplain Ryan Krause. Ryan joins me live from L.A. And Dan Gade joining me live from Washington.
Guys, it's so great to see you both.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great to see you, Kyra.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Ryan, I want to talk, of course, about the book and the purpose behind the book in a moment, but, Dan, if you don't mind. You know, we've talked about, we set this up to explain what of course happened to you in Iraq. But I just -- I remember you telling me about those final moments when you knew the Humvee was struck by an IED and what you remember, the last thing you remember once that happened.
CAPT. DANIEL GADE: Well, the last thing I remember actually has to do with Ryan, because the very last thing that happened before I passed out and woke up three weeks later was that this beautiful Marine helicopter settled in over me, and the guys covered my face from the debris and threw me on the helicopter, and as it was lifting off I knew that I was saved. I thought I was saved. I was still in a lot of trouble, as it turns out. But that helicopter was sent by Ryan, actually.
PHILLIPS: And when you -- now, do you remember seeing Ryan, or you just saw the helicopter?
GADE: No, Ryan was at a different -- he was on the radio. He was the radio dispatcher that sent the helicopter over. He wasn't actually on the helicopter. But I later met Ryan and thanked him for the -- for sending that helicopter to get me.
PHILLIPS: Very much like an Angel, something you know all too well, Ryan, as a chaplain, talking about angels and just the intervention that takes place when something like that happens to a young soldier like Dan Gade.
What do you remember about Dan's incident?
RYAN KRAUSE, NAVY CHAPLAIN: Well, as soon as we get a call, or at that time received a call, being a pastor back home, we had an immediate response that was set up with a prayer chain, and soon as some of our Marines, or soldiers or corpsmen were hit on the battlefield I would activate a prayer chain immediately that would just let folks back home know immediately we've got one or two guys that have just been hit, please begin to pray for them. And I remember receiving Captain Dan Gade, and it was sometime in late afternoon on the 10th of January, and we just activated the prayer chain and began to really lift him up and pray that God would just do a work in delivering him to the doctor and that when he received the care from the doctor, that the doctor would just be used in a mighty way to do powerful things and to touch his life and to save his life, and that's what happened, so...
PHILLIPS: And we actually have pictures, Dan, of when you were in that tent and medics were responding to you and they were operating on you, trying to save your leg. And we've got incredible pictures of people like you, Ryan, praying over the patients, reading the Bible, just holding the hands. I mean, it's so moving to look at the pictures and read your book.
And I'm curious, Ryan, you write in your book that, "The burden I had as I moved the wounded was to pray fervently for God's healing touch to be on them and to sustain them. It was sometimes more than I could bear. I found myself so mentally and emotionally drained that I could barely function." Then you talk about remembering holding Marines and other soldiers in your arms, praying that they wouldn't die, seeing the look of fear in their eyes as they realized their condition, seeing the toll on those around them as they saw one of their own placed on a litter or in a body bag. Tell me about the spiritual challenges you went through not only as a Navy chaplain but as a son of the military?
KRAUSE: Well, just real quick, I'm actually not a Navy chaplain. I'm a hospital corpsman, but I did serve with the chaplains and did a lot of work with them and so saw a lot of that parallel thing. So I kind of wore the medical hat in moving folks as well as the spiritual hat.
But going back to the spiritual element of it, the thoughts that would go across our mind is how can I possibly handle even one more of our boys, you know, blown to bits or with terrible wounds or killed in action or, you know, different things? And you just -- you wonder. Sometimes you echo that same thought that so many people have. How can a God of love allow these type of things to happen? Where was God in all of this?
And I can tell you that there were so many different incidents and different things that we encountered on the battlefield, Captain Gade's Case being one of them, that should have had a very bad outcome. But the circumstances were such that they were just absolutely miracles.
And there were countless things that I wrote about in "Reflections" that were accounts given by so many people on the battlefield that they don't know why they're even alive or how in the world they could have come through something like that.
But really the only answer is the divine providence of God and that his hand was working through the hands of the surgeons and the combat medics and, you know, the hospital corpsmen and all of those to bring about his perfect conclusion to a not so perfect situation. And so when we couldn't do anything, the only thing we could do is to look up and just know that God was there and he was with us and carrying us through those times.
PHILLIPS: Dan, are you sometimes just amazed at the fact that you are alive and you are here and you are able to see your wife and your little girl again after that incident?
GADE: Really, I am, Kyra. And it's just amazing. The stories that are in the book just continue on, and there are so many things that happened both in Iraq and then at Walter Reed that just shouldn't have happened. My uncle actually is a doctor, and he said one day after he left the ICU, he said there's just no medical reason for Dan to be alive. And I know what the reason is. It's because God wants me to be alive. And for what plan, I don't know, but it's absolutely for sure that that's the only reason, and all the doctors have said that.
PHILLIPS: And Dan, you led these men and women. You were in charge of so many soldiers, and you dealt with these IEDs. You dealt with the loss of your comrades. How did you stay in the fight and put this all in perspective and -- because you have one of most amazing attitudes, I have to say, that I've ever encountered.
GADE: Well, I appreciate that, Kyra. And I think that the real key is you can either believe that there's a higher purpose and then follow that higher purpose or you can sort of despair and believe that this is the end and if you get killed that your existence just ends. And to me that's silly.
And so I believe that there's a higher purpose. I believe we're in Iraq for a good reason. And I believe that God specifically put me in charge of those men for a reason. And so it wasn't ever a question to me why I was doing what I was doing.
PHILLIPS: You finally met the medic that worked to save your life. You came face to face with him. Ryan, you write about him in the book. We see pictures of him in the book. Tell us about what that encounter was like, Dan, and what you said to him and what the conversation was like.
GADE: Well, it was great. My wife hugged him, and she wouldn't let go of him for a little while. But I just told him, I said, you know, there's this -- thank you is a word that has this meaning from hey, thanks for the glass of water all the way to thanks for saving my life and I said thank you for saving my life.
And he said sir, I was just doing my job but God was really with us that day. And he wouldn't take any thanks. He wouldn't accept my thanks. And the guy's a hero. I mean, he's wounded in action three times himself and just a wonderful American hero. So Sergeant Krause, if you're out there, hey, thanks a lot again.
PHILLIPS: Ryan, what was it like to put this book together and to take people like Dan and bring him face to face with those who saved his life and prayed for him and, as you say, became a part of these prayer circles in such, you know, a heart-wrenching time for not only him but, you know, his loved ones, his family, Wendy (ph), his wife, his little girl Anna Grace (ph)?
I know we've got some great pictures of your family, Dan. Maybe, Ryan, you can talk about that whole aspect. I mean, you had to try to keep families believing that everything was going to be OK as well.
KRAUSE: It was -- if you know anything about my personality, writing a book was definitely on my top ten list of things that I would never do in life and -- because I'm just not a detail type of a person.
But God just gave me so many opportunities while still on the battlefield to interview so many different people from different backgrounds and to explore really the spiritual thread that ran through this whole thing, and to sort of tie them together into one package that has been bringing hope to people and showing that in the midst of chaos, there is a God in Heaven who just has our greatest interest in mind and loves us so much.
And Dan's case is something that just baffles our mind. And I remember one of the specific things that I prayed as we received the call for Captain Gade was after we activated the prayer chain and of course did the things that we had to do to get the helicopter on the point of injury as quick as possible, was a specific prayer that I said.
Lord, and also please work through the hands of the surgeon who will be working on Dan. And later on I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Chambers, who was the Navy general surgeon who was on the receiving end of the helicopter who received Dan. And I spoke to him, and I said, how did you feel when Captain Gade came in and other wounded soldiers and marines? And he said, it was as though God was working through my hands ...
PHILLIPS: Oh, my gosh.
KRAUSE: And so that was a specific answer to my prayer that I couldn't have choreographed any more perfectly. You know, to hear that come out of his mouth was so humbling to me and so moving to me, to see a specific word-for-word answer to my prayers and the prayers of so many at home.
And there are so many stories like that that just run through the life on the battlefield while we were there. It just was certainly a very, very strong divine presence, and God's presence was just in every detail of everything that we did.
PHILLIPS: Dan, when you woke up from being in that coma for a couple weeks and you finally got to see Wendy, your wife, and your little girl, that must have been a pretty spiritual moment for you.
GADE: It was a big relief. It was a big relief to know I was alive, and to see Wendy there was just fantastic. But you know, Kyra, this story isn't really about Ryan and I. And in my mind it's really about the guys who are still over there fighting and laying down their lives every day for each other.
We saw the video from Operation Steel Curtain earlier, and those guys are just heroes. And I -- my heart swelled with pride to watch them, and I just hope that Americans can get behind them and put aside the political garbage and just -- and really focus on those soldiers and marines. And I'm just so proud of those guys. I'm really impressed.
PHILLIPS: Captain Dan Gade, Ryan Krause. "Reflections From the Battlefield" is the book, but even more so, it's been so wonderful getting to know both of you. Dan, I thank God every day that I sat next to you on that airplane and we started our conversation because it led me to both of you and just a wonderful experience for me. And I thank you both so much for your time on Veterans Day today.
GADE: Thank you, Kyra.
KRAUSE: Thanks, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, guys.
We're going to take a quick break and have much more LIVE FROM straight ahead.
PHILLIPS: Honoring the men and women who lost their lives in Vietnam. We want to listen now to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, at the war memorial there in Washington.
GEN. PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: ... but it is my honor to try to serve the men and women with whom I've been entrusted the care for the last 38 years. So to have this moment with so many of you, to publicly name them and say thank you to them and their families, is a great gift to me personally.
Professionally, it is an absolute honor to represent 2.4 million American men and women, active, guard, and reserve, today; to say thank you to the millions of veterans across the United States today.
We are so proud to inherit your legacy. Your sacrifices and those who came before you have made this country what it is. It is because of your sacrifices that we live in this incredible country with the unbelievable freedoms and opportunities that we have. My dad was born in Italy. There's no other country in the world that gives anyone who comes here the opportunity like this country.
Today we fight against a real enemy, an enemy whose stated purpose, stated purpose -- you can read it just like you can go back and read "Mein Kampf" from Adolf Hitler. You can read what al Qaeda intends to do. They want to destroy our way of life. They want to take away the opportunities for Americans to join together like this and celebrate our veterans and celebrate our freedom.
I'm here to tell you, as you already know, that there are 2.4 million Americans in uniform today who are flat not going to let that happen. There are several hundred thousand in the Gulf region right now. And at they probably do not wake up every day thinking about their oath, I would like to just remind all of us what this oath is all about. It's a little bit different for officers and enlisted, but it essentially is the same.
It says "I" -- and the service member's name -- "do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office in which I'm about to enter, so help me God."
Now, I guarantee you that all of our servicemen and women are not waking up every day thinking about that. But when they have a free moment and they start thinking about their service to their country, they will remember that oath. Today many are in combat.
And those of you who have been in combat know a couple of very basic truths. One truth is that there is fear on the battlefield. Another truth is that those of us who have inherited this incredible legacy from our predecessors, from you and so many others, fear more that somehow we would let you down, or that we would let the soldier or marine on our left or right down.
And the fear of letting you down, of letting our fellow service members down, and of letting our country down, overcomes the physical fear of personal danger. And American servicemen and women will do what American servicemen and women have always done, which is stand up and be counted and get the job done.
PHILLIPS: Honoring our veterans and honoring our military. General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, continuing his speech as we continue on here at LIVE FROM, honoring every single one of those veterans today.
We'll be right back.
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