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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Remember Fallen Comrades; U.S.-Iran Discussions

Aired May 28, 2007 - 11:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Memorial Day may have started out as a day to remember Civil War veterans but, Melissa, it has certainly expanded to become much more. Arguably, the most important day of recognition of our armed forces. Certainly Veterans Day is right there as well. Always moving this ceremony.
MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: So many veterans of many wars represented there at Arlington National Cemetery this morning, with the president laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

HARRIS: We are going to hear from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace this hour, as well as the president.

Welcome back, everyone.

Memorial Day in America. Flags, parades, cookouts, all in a nation at war and locked in debate. The future of U.S. troops in Iraq and in harm's way. This hour, the tributes on the home front and on the front lines.

LONG: Pride, sacrifice, service -- watchwords of any day in Iraq. And they resonate even more deeply for U.S. troops on Memorial Day.

CNN's Arwa Damon is with U.S. troops in Yusufiya via broadband.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're here at Camp Yusufiya, home of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, where the troops here held a memorial ceremony for the five killed Americans and the Iraqi soldier who died fighting alongside them following that May 12th attack that has left two soldiers still missing.

The ceremony itself was somber and dignified. The soldiers really trying to remember their fallen comrades and trying to find the strength from one another to move forward.

This is not a mission that allows the troops time for grief. This ceremony that they held here allowing them to express all of their emotions, even if it was just for a brief time before they continue with ongoing operations to recover their two remaining missing soldiers. But in the words of the platoon leader, Lieutenant Morgan Springlace (ph), this is what he said at the ceremony: "These men all fought and died with honor, but now we must look to tomorrow. For the fallen we will avenge you. For the lost, we will find you."

We spoke with some of the platoon members following the ceremony. All of them trying to put on a tough face, trying to move through these very difficult and trying times, saying that they wanted their fellow comrades remembered and that they would be remembering them for the good times that they had together, the laughter that they were able to share out here, despite all of the difficulties and the tragedies that they did go through. And the mission does continue in all of its intensity to find those two remaining missing soldiers and to bring those that carried out this attack to justice.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Yusufiya, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Historic talks between the U.S. and Iran, the two sides meeting in Baghdad to discuss the security situation in Iraq.

CNN's Aneesh Raman live in Tehran for us this morning.

Aneesh, good to see you.

What can you tell us about the discussions?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Tony.

Yes, the meeting lasted about four hours, a historic meeting, the first high-level public meeting between Iran and the U.S. in nearly 30 years. The meeting was described as businesslike by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Crocker.

We understand it was essentially a venting session. These two countries have lobbed accusations at each other over Iraq in public. This was their chance to do it face to face.

For their part, Iran said that the U.S. must admit to a "failed policy" in Iraq, and that the U.S. must come up with a timetable for U.S. troops to leave. For their part, the U.S. raised allegations that it's raised before, that Iran continues to arm, train and fund Shia militias in Iraq. And recent allegations, Iran is helping Sunni groups there as well. Now, Iran denied that it in the meeting, it's denied it in public. No resolution was really expected out of this single meeting.

Here's what the U.S. ambassador to Iraq had to say after it was done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: I would say that the talks proceeded positively. What we underscored to the Iranians, though, is that beyond principle, there is practice. And what we need to see is Iranian actions on the ground come into harmony with their stated principles, because right now the actions that I described to them and that I just described to you are running at cross purposes to their own policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAMAN: Now, it's important, Tony, to keep this meeting in the context of the overall picture. Iran, of course, perceives a two- pronged strategy by the Bush administration, dialogue in Baghdad. But keep in mind, there are warships in the Persian Gulf, gunboat diplomacy, if you will, reminding us that it is still under pressure, the nuclear issue that is still unresolved.

But still, the symbolism was high at this meeting, expectations were low. But that it was businesslike, that the talks didn't fall apart, will give many cause for hope that there might be some room for these two countries to find common ground -- Tony.

HARRIS: So, Aneesh, where do things go from here?

RAMAN: Yes, it's interesting. We heard from that presser with Ambassador Crocker that the Iranians had raised the idea of forming essentially a trilateral committee, with Iran, Iraq and the U.S. all members to talk about Iraqi security and to have another meeting down the line.

Now, Ambassador Crocker said that would have to be debated in Washington before any decision was made. And as you heard there, he's sending a signal. Change must happen first on the ground before there can be further talks.

So, there's an atmosphere perhaps that's building out of these talks that something could come down the line. But both sides are setting prerequisites. The U.S. has accused Iran of sending militias into the Iraq and over the weekend accused the U.S. of backing several spy networks within the Islamic republic, part of them agents coming from Iraq.

So, there are still huge outstanding issues, we'll have to I guess wait and see in the weeks to come whether there's some compromise on a second meeting -- Tony.

HARRIS: Yes.

CNN's Aneesh Raman for us in Tehran.

Aneesh, thank you.

LONG: All right. Let's check the damage. Let's take a quick look at the gas prices this Memorial Day.

The national average for unleaded is about $3.21 a gallon, according to AAA Motor Club. That's just a third of a cent less than yesterday. But it is a jump, 29-cent jump from just a month ago.

HARRIS: This Memorial Day, an absolute washout in much of the nation's midsection. In the southern plains, serious problems from too much rain.

Much of central Texas is reeling from flash floods. Two men whose vehicles were swept away by high water are still missing and presumed dead. That would raise the flooding death toll in Texas to seven.

More serious flooding problems in parts of Kansas and Oklahoma. This scene at the Hutchinson, Kansas, zoo, where a lot of animals had to be moved to higher ground.

Boy.

LONG: Glad they were able to get to them in time.

HARRIS: If we could just move all of it -- you just feel bad.

LONG: Just shift the rain.

HARRIS: Yes.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LONG: Now to south Florida, where firefighters have saved dozens of cats and dogs from a house fire. It happened last night in Miami.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they discovered the animals inside that home. They were able to pull out about 40 of them.

Poor little cat.

HARRIS: Yes.

LONG: Two other cats and four dogs died in that fire. The fire apparently sparked by a candle. Authorities say the house has not had electricity since Hurricane Katrina.

HARRIS: One of the solemn duties of the presidency -- President Bush honors the men and women who gave their lives in war. His address at Arlington National Cemetery live this hour in the NEWSROOM.

The anguish of war. Photographs filled with pain. You'll remember these images long after this Memorial Day is over.

See them right here in the NEWSROOM.

LONG: Home from war. Facing a new battle, and by his side, an army of loved ones. The story of Sergeant Cope ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LONG: General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, just wrapping up his address at Arlington National Cemetery. In just moments, we're expecting to hear from President Bush himself. The president just 15 minutes ago laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. HARRIS: "Saving Private Ryan" was a movie. Saving Sergeant Cope is a mission. It is under way in San Diego, where the war-wounded soldier is surrounded by loved ones.

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Army Sergeant Joshua Cope returned from Iraq six months ago. Two Purple Hearts and a Medal of Valor tell his harrowing tale of war.

SGT. JOSHUA COPE, U.S. ARMY: Watching my friends die, that was probably the worst thing. We were like a family over there. I was with those guys for like two years.

GUTIERREZ: Staff Sergeant Joe Narvaez, PFC Jan Kim (ph), and PFC Daniel Alman (ph), brothers in arms no more.

Sergeant Cope was the only one from the group to come home alive. He was sent to Iraq not once, but twice. The first time he was shot in the leg during an ambush. Two years later, during his second tour, his Humvee hit an IED.

COPE: We hit the land mine, and I got blown like 20 feet from the Humvee. And I remember looking up and saying, "Oh, God. Oh, God."

GUTIERREZ: At 24, Cope has a new battle to fight.

COPE: I lost both my legs above the knee. My hand got pretty messed up. For me, it's probably just learning to walk again. That's probably the hardest thing for me personally.

GUTIERREZ: Emotionally, Cope says the hardest thing was losing his best friend. He wears Narvaez' name on his wrist.

COPE: It signifies the date that he lost his life in Iraq. I never take it off.

GUTIERREZ: Cope says this is his reason to go on, for Laney (ph) and his wife, Erica.

ERICA COPE, SGT. JOSHUA COPE'S WIFE: I do think we're one of the lucky ones, because there's a lot of soldiers who aren't coming home. And I still do have a husband and then my daughter still has a father.

GUTIERREZ: And this young family knows they have a love road ahead. Erica has not left her husband's side.

LINDA COPE, SGT. JOSHUA COPE'S MOTHER: Erica is my hero. She's 22 years old. And she's got the maturity and wisdom that has encouraged me and made me go, "Gosh, she doesn't complain."

GUTIERREZ: Richard Rees, a former Marine, helps Joshua out around the house. Both know war. RICHARD REES, OPERATION HOME FRONT: And I said, "If you care to share with me what happened, I'm a good listener." Oh, man, we both started balling. I haven't cried like that for a long, long, long time. Probably overdue.

See, I'm getting choked.

J. COPE: Laney (ph)...

E. COPE: That's kind of been his strength, I think, a lot, just being there for his daughter. And he wants to run, you know, chase her around.

GUTIERREZ: And when she's old enough, this soldier wants to walk his daughter down the aisle.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, San Diego.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Department of Defense Deputy Secretary England speaking now. Moments away from hearing the president of the United States on a day you want to hear from the president, Memorial Day, in the United States of America.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GORDON ENGLAND, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: That night, I learned from my mom that the Callahan (ph) family lived in one of the houses on that square, and that their son was a Marine who had been killed in Imo Jima.

Francis Callahan Jr. (ph) and thousands like him gave their lives so I and all Americans could live the life we've lived. Throughout our history as a nation, there have been and continue to be many like Francis Callahan Jr. (ph), who have given their lives to preserve freedom and liberty and our way of life.

These great Americans have given us a marvelous gift, the gift of freedom. A gift that needs to be continuously cherished and preserved.

As President Ronald Reagan said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." We don't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same. And this responsibility for the preservation of freedom also passes on to each generation of leadership.

The commander in chief bears the lonely, sometimes unpopular, but ultimate responsibility to preserve freedom for future generations. It's the will, commitment, resolve and determination of the president that leads the nation to victory. And our nation is blessed to have those qualities of leadership and our president at this time of critical, long-term threat to our citizens and our way of life. It is a great privilege and a humble honor to introduce our commander in chief, President George W. Bush.

Mr. President.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all.

Secretary England, members of the Cabinet, General Pace, members of Congress, members of the United States military, veterans, families of the fallen, fellow citizens, welcome.

Today we honor the warriors who fought our nation's enemies, defended the cause of liberty, and gave their lives in the cause of freedom. We offer our love and our heartfelt compassion to the families who mourn them. We pray that our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they made.

For seven generations we have carried our fallen to these fields. Here rests some 360,000 Americans who died fighting to preserve the union and end slavery. Here rests some 500,000 Americans who perished in two world wars to conquer tyrannies and build free nations from their ruins. Here rests some 90,000 Americans who gave their lives to fight communist aggression in places such as Korea and Vietnam.

Many names here are known -- the 18-year-old union soldier named Arthur MacArthur, who grabbed a falling flag and carried it up Missionary Ridge; the Muskogee Airmen, who defended America abroad and challenged prejudice at home; the slain war hero and president who asked that we assure the survival and success of liberty and found his rest beneath an eternal flame. Still, others here are remembered only by loving families. Some are known only to God.

Now this hallowed ground receives a new generation of heroes -- men and women who gave their lives in places such as Kabul and Kandahar, Baghdad and Ramadi. Like those who came before them, they did not want war, but they answered the call when it came. They believed in something larger than themselves. They fought for our country, and our country unites to mourn them as one.

We remember Army Specialist Ross Andrew McGnnis (ph). Ross was born on Flag Day in 1987. When he was in kindergarten he said he wanted to grow up to be an Army man. He enlisted at 17, the first day he was eligible. He deployed to Iraq.

Last December, a grenade was thrown into his Humvee as Ross was patrolling the streets of Baghdad. The soldiers inside could not escape in time, so Ross leapt into the vehicle and covered the grenade with his own body. By sacrificing himself to save four other men, he earned a Silver Star and the eternal gratitude of the American people.

We remember Marine Sergeant Mark Golzinski (ph) of Murphysboro, Tennessee. Mark volunteered for a second tour of duty in Iraq. He knew the dangers his service would entail. Before he deployed, he wrote the following in an e-mail to his family and friends: "Please don't feel bad for us. We're warriors. And as warriors have done before us, we fight and sometimes die so our families do not have to."

Mark left behind an 8-year-old son, Christian (ph), who's with us today. He managed to be brave while he held his father's folded flag.

With us are other children and families mourning moms and dads and sons and daughters. Nothing said today will ease your pain. But each of you need to know that your country thanks you, and we embrace you, and we will never forget the terrible loss you have suffered. I hope you find comfort in knowing that your loved ones rest in a place even more peaceful than the fields that surround us here.

The greatest memorial to our fallen troops can not be found in the words we say or the places we gather. The more lasting tribute is all around us, a country where citizens have the right to worship as they want, to march for what they believe and to say what they think. These freedoms came at great costs, and they will survive only as long as there are those willing to step forward to defend them against determined enemies.

As before in our history, Americans find ourselves under attack and underestimated. Our enemies long for our retreat. They question our moral purpose. They doubt our strength of will.

Yet, even after five years of war, our finest citizens continue to answer our enemies with courage and confidence. Hundreds of thousands of patriots still raise their hands to serve their country. Tens of thousands who have seen war on the battlefield volunteer to re-enlist. What an amazing country to produce such fine citizens.

Laura and I have met many of them. We've sat at the bedsides of the wounded.

This morning I met with service members who received medals for distinguished service and found myself humbled by their grace and their grit. I had the honor of meeting with families of the fallen in the Oval Office and was amazed by their strength and resolve and decent grace under pressure.

We've heard of 174 Marines recently, almost a quarter of a battalion, who asked to have their enlistments extended. For these extensions they would earn no promotion and no promise of a favored posting. They want to serve their nation. And as one of them put it, "I'm here so our sons don't have to come and fight here someday."

Those who serve are not fatalists or cynics. They know that one day this war will end, as all wars do. Our duty is to ensure that its outcome justifies the sacrifices made by those who fought and died in it. From their deaths must come a world where the cruel dreams of tyrants and terrorists are frustrated and foiled, where our nation is more secure from attack, and where the gift of liberty is secured for millions who have never known it.

This is our country's calling. It's our country's destiny.

Americans set off on that voyage more than two centuries ago, confident that this future was within our reach, even though the shore was distant, and even though the journey may be long. And through generations their course has been secured by those who wear our uniform. Secured by people who man their posts and do their duty. They have helped us grow stronger with each new sunrise.

On this day of memory, we mourn brave citizens who laid their lives down for our freedom. They lived and died as Americans.

May we always honor them. May we always embrace them. And may we always be faithful to who they were and what they fought for.

Thank you for having me. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless our country.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain standing for the playing of "Taps" and the benediction.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: And on this Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, a day that we remember those who have died in our nation's service, gracious comments from the commander in chief this morning.

MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: President taking a moment to salute the heroes in particular, one young soldier born on Flag Day, enlisted at the age of 17 the moment he could. He talked about the story of how that young man died when a grenade was tossed into his Humvee and he jumped on it in order to save his comrades, many touching stories in his speech today about the heroes, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

HARRIS: And last hour, the president participating in the wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknowns. Take a look at this moment. President Bush at the tomb of the unknowns on this Memorial Day in America.

LONG: And on this Monday, military families are grieving.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watching the families, watching the mothers and the fathers and the children and the -- it's pretty emotional to watch that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LONG: Behind the lens, in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: So Melissa, folks are trying to firm up their plans for the rest of the day, the afternoon. Well you know what, Jacqui Jeras, what are you tracking?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I thought you were inviting me somewhere. I was waiting for the invitation.

HARRIS: It's a standing invitation. What are you tracking, Jacqui?

JERAS: We're really focusing in on the nation's midsection guys, because that's where the worst of the weather is across the country today. We're expecting to see some of the storms become severe later on this afternoon in the upper Midwest, across the Dakotas primarily and then of course we're tracking the heavy, wet weather here across eastern parts of Texas. That's going to be spreading northward throughout the day. Oklahoma City, up towards Kansas City and into St. Louis. We could have a little bit of travel trouble there. So really the main highways, we're expecting to have problems with the wet weather along the I-35 corridor and then also along the I-70 corridor throughout the Ohio Valley. But if you're traveling along I- 5, along I-25, expecting great travel along i-95, across parts of the east, high pressure controlling your weather here. Really wish we could get some rain here.

However, it's getting so critical at this point. we're almost looking at the tropics to bring us rainfall at this point. I just wanted to point out we do have a tropical depression, this one is in the Pacific, however, Pacific hurricane season begins May 15th. This is tropical depression 1-E, not going to bother anybody. It should become a tropical storm we think by tomorrow and it will be named Alvin. Hurricane season of course starts Friday, June 1st in the Atlantic basin. That's usually when we start to see those systems begin to affect us here into the continental United States.

Now, let's go ahead and move on and there you can see, our travel map for tomorrow. Again, from Minneapolis down towards Houston, this is where the biggest problems across the country, looking good out west, looking very dry across parts of the east and the temperatures getting pretty toasty, especially across the nation's midsection today and tomorrow. You're really looking at the cool weather confined to the Pacific Northwest. Temperature-wise, a great pool day.

LONG: Really only Seattle as you said.

HARRIS: Jacqui, thank you.

LONG: New we're taking you to India, fascinating land, the world's biggest democracy, a growing economic power. And for the next few weeks here in the NEWSROOM, we'll be getting a closer look at this country of so many contrasts from CNN's Don Lemon. Right now he's in the capital, New Delhi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT : This is probably one of the most crowded places you'll see on earth. This is New Delhi and just getting through traffic here is amazing. People walk through this traffic just like I'm walking through. This is a typical park. It's about 6:00 on a Sunday evening here and it's called Indiagate. There's a war memorial here to all the fallen Indian soldiers. It's much like central park. People are hanging out. Over here, you've got people on the swan boats with their families. It's all about family. So they come to this park on a Sunday afternoon and they hang out with their families and then they go back to where they live. This is typical India, typical New Delhi, very crowded.

Just across town, this is about a 30minute drive. You can see it's quite a different environment, quite a different atmosphere here. This is the heart of old Delhi. Everyone talks about this new burgeoning information and technology economy. This is the old economy. These are shopkeepers and families. People come here to be able to afford to take care of their families, to send their children to school, to even take vacations. The shopkeepers tell me they make enough money in order to survive and to have a nice lifestyle. How long you have owned this store?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 35 years.

LEMON: 35 years? How do you do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fine.

LEMON: You do fine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LEMON: How many kids in your family?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One brother, one sister (INAUDIBLE) one girl, one boy.

LEMON: And you all can live on the money from the store?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LEMON: So do you OK.

The economy here in India grows at a robust 9 percent a year. But there is still dire poverty with many people, especially children, living on the street and that outsourcing, tech support-driven economy that we hear so much about, it's only 2 percent and growing. The bulk of the economy here is still agrarian. Don Lemon, CNN, New Delhi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And still to come in the NEWSROOM this morning, fearless flyers. They thrill millions with those high-risk maneuvers, riding with the stunt pilots. Is that Miles? He's in there. He's in the mix.

LONG: There! Look at the smile.

HARRIS: MOB, Miles O'Brien coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: A first step, U.S. and Iranian diplomats meeting in Baghdad day. They're discussing security in Iraq and only security in Iraq, Iran's nuclear program not on the table. First on the agenda for the U.S. delegation, allegations that Iran is arming militias in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: I laid out before the Iranians a number of our direct, specific concerns about their behavior in Iraq, their support for militias that are fighting both the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces, the fact that a lot of the explosives and ammunition that are used by these groups are coming in from Iran, that such activities led by the IRGC (INAUDIBLE) force needed to cease and that we would be looking for results.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: The U.S. team says Iran is planning to offer another meeting.

LONG: I don't know about you, but you would think that college students would be virtual Ph.D.s when it comes to cell phones and sneakers. There's a new survey out that shows that they're flunking out when it comes to knowing the brands behind the stuff. Susan Lisovicz joins us in New York this morning. Good morning Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a lot of R&D that goes into these products and so this is surprising Melissa. A new survey shows America's college students know surprisingly little about where their favorite brands come from. Take the ubiquitous cell phone fore example. (INAUDIBLE) according to market research firm Anderson Analytics, just over 4 percent, 4 percent of students know where it's really based. Care to take a guess, Melissa?

LONG: Well, I know it's not U.S.

HARRIS: India.

LISOVICZ: Close.

HARRIS: Really?

LISOVICZ: Very good Tony, South Korea.

HARRIS: South Korea. Well, Asia, OK.

LISOVICZ: You know. A lot of electronics come from there. Many students thought LG was an American company. At the same time many students thought Finland's Nokia and U.S.-based Motorola were Japanese brands.

Moving on to clothing. Only 12 percent of students know where Adidas or in some parts of the world, Adidas is based. Take a guess.

HARRIS: Saying it that way...

LONG: That would be Germany.

LISOVICZ: Yes and anybody who watched the World Soccer Cup knew.

LONG: (INAUDIBLE) running shoes in Rome (INAUDIBLE)

LISOVICZ: Nearly half of the people asked thought Adidas was an American brand. They're certainly popular in America. The correct answer of course, Germany. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed through Lego was an American brand. It's actually based in Denmark. From a marketing perspective, this could be a problem. Country of origin plays a huge part in making luxury goods and cars seem more exclusive and exotic. Of course, the markets closed today for Memorial Day. Last week, the Dow industrials edged lower, snapping a streak of seven straight weekly gains. And of course I'll be back at the post. It's not very exotic to me at the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow.

HARRIS: But it's home.

LISOVICZ: It's home. I'll see you from there tomorrow.

HARRIS: Susan, thank you. Good Memorial Day to you.

Stunt pilots turning and twisting above amazed spectators. Lately we've seen just how dangerous those stunts can be. But that hasn't stopped these high-flyers. CNN's Miles O'Brien decided to ride along.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: We can roll again. One, quarter roll, opposite roll. One.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A lot of people think I'm loopy. Maybe so, but from where I'm sitting now, that's a compliment. I'm flying in formation over New York with air show pilot John Klatt, a man who cheats death for a living or so it may seem.

JOHN KLATT, AEROBATIC PILOT: We build trust, we work, we practice. What looks like it's reckless and unpracticed is practiced every day.

O'BRIEN: In the past month, Klatt and the rest of the air show community got a couple of tragic reminders of how narrow their margin for error is. A blue angels pilot dead after a crash in South Carolina. And a Canadian snow birds performer killed a few weeks later practicing in Montana.

SEAN TUCKER, AEROBATIC PILOT: This is not basket weaving 101. We can't afford to have a bad day. This is serious business.

O'BRIEN: Shawn Tucker has been performing at air shows for 30 years. The closest call he had came in practice last year when his controls broke. TUCKER: I was able to get it up to a safe altitude, get it away and put anybody in danger and I had to leave my baby, which is an airplane I love very very much.

O'BRIEN: Sean lived to smile and tell the tale, thanks to the parachute every aerobatic pilot and passenger must wear snuggly as I discovered. But what about the safety of the millions of spectators? We've all seen the horrifying images, five years ago in Ukraine, a Russian fighter cartwheeled into a crowd, killing more than 80. In Germany in 1988, a midair collision by the Italian air force demonstration team killed more than 70 spectators.

JOHN CUDAHY, INTL COUNCIL OF AIR SHOWS: The regulations and the safety program that we have here in the United States is by far the most aggressive in the whole world.

O'BRIEN: John Cudahy heads the International Council of Air Shows. He says in the U.S., the planes and the crowd are kept much farther apart.

CUDAHY: We also make sure that when the pilots are flying aerobatic maneuvers, they're not directed at the crowd.

O'BRIEN: As a matter of fact, air shows in North America have an amazing safety record. The last time a spectator was killed as a result of an air show crash in the U.S. or Canada was 1952. Still, every year on average, two or three air show pilots lose their lives, giving it their all in the air, risky business indeed. Your wife would tell you, couldn't you have chosen being a banker or something?

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: No, she knows it's in my blood.

O'BRIEN: Show must go on. Enjoy the thrill knowing they are the ones taking the risk. Miles O'Brien, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LONG: the thrill of Miles' story to this.

HARRIS: Whoa, whoa, what is this?

LONG: Upside down, single engine plane trying to make that emergency landing in (INAUDIBLE) County, California coming up on 9:00 in the morning. Three people were inside that small plane. Good news to report, they've all made it out, some minor injuries according to police there on the scene, pretty amazing photo.

HARRIS: Yes. That's the update. It's a great update. Three people on board. Can't imagine how tense those final moments were. But the great news as Melissa just said that all three people, apparently, are OK. We will continue to follow that story for you.

LONG: Nursing their minor injuries this morning.

Now the anguish of war, photographs filled with pain. You'll remember the images we'll show you long after this Memorial Day is over. You'll see them, coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LONG: Few assignments will tug on the emotions of a photographer like a military funeral. And those with the Associated Press know this firsthand, as you are about to see.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: A roadside bomb killed --

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Five U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq in two days.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: That's the highest toll for any four-month stretch since the beginning of the Iraq conflict.

VOICE OF RON EDMONDS: Watching the families, watching the mothers and the fathers and the children, it's pretty emotional to watch that. You know, fathers who you know were looking forward to their sons coming back and leading a great life for their sons and seeing that wiped out in just a moment like that. It can jerk on your heart strings a little.

VOICE OF BRENNAN LINSLEY: My feelings are kind of secondary. Sometimes you lose it, but mostly that's later when you look at the pictures. And you get the chance to really, you know, maybe you were focusing on the mother and then you realize that hiding behind her were a couple children. You start really thinking about the fact that all of their futures will be spent without their father. Hopefully, that's what people that look at the pictures come away with, too.

VOICE OF M. SPENCER GREEN: It hits a small town differently than when somebody is from Chicago or something like that. I was going into communities where everyone in town knew this soldier. You have to keep that in mind wherever you go, when you're checking into the hotel, when you're in a restaurant, because these people are grieving along with the family.

VOICE OF DOUGLAS C. PIZAC: The most difficult part is to not intrude on the privacy and the sanctity of the proceedings, to let the people have closure.

VOICE OF AMY SANCETTA: I could spend the day covering a soldier's funeral and putting up my pictures and seeing his parents cry and seeing his mother lingering over his casket and then go out that night to dinner with friends and everyone is talking about their day. And your mind goes back to that family, that moment. It does sort of send a slow, sad drum beat through your core. But it's what we do. I think we're doing a good thing by being there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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