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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Battle Over War Funds; Election Battle; Controversy Over New Aircraft; Can America's Troops be Effective?; Honoring our Troops
Aired May 26, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have lasted longer than World War II, more than 4,500 of our troops have been killed. We'll honor all our service men and women and we'll hear some truly remarkable stories from our troops, stories from heroes such as Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (ph), the only survivor of a SEAL patrol in Afghanistan, all that and much straight ahead tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special Memorial Day edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Monday, May 26. Here now Kitty Pilgrim.
PILGRIM: Good evening everybody. As we honor all our troops this Memorial Day weekend, nearly 200,000 of our men and women are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those troops continue a long tradition of service that began with the founding of our republic. Now as with many wars in the past, there are deep divisions over this conduct of this war, those divisions have led to a major political fight over a new war funding bill. We'll have complete coverage of the challenges facing our troops.
We'll also hear from some of their inspirational stories. We begin with a report by Ed Henry at the White House.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever since Democrats took over Congress, they've been on a collision course with President Bush over legislation tying funding for U.S. troops to a timetable for bringing them home from Iraq.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Over 4,000 of our precious treasure have died, tens of thousands of our men and women in uniform have been wounded, many of them permanently. Our reputation in the world has been greatly diminished.
HENRY: But Democrats have repeatedly tried and repeatedly failed to change the direction of the war, thanks to the power of the pen, the veto pen.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Members of Congress must pass a bill that provides our troops the resources they need and does not tie the hands of our commanders or impose artificial timelines for withdrawal.
HENRY: Mr. Bush is brandishing that veto pen yet again over a bill that has more than $160 billion in new funds for Iraq and Afghanistan. He's angry the cost has soared because Democrats want to include non military expenses such as an extension of unemployment benefits. But Democrats note that after spending more than $600 billion on the wars the president could afford to shell out some money at home.
PELOSI: In this bill we will begin to address America's domestic priorities. We will address the deep economic pain facing many families. Our economy has lost $260,000 jobs this year so far alone. These people need our help.
HENRY: Republicans say they do want to help those in distress but not on this bill.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: The American people want Democrats and Republicans to work together for the interest of our country and I think when it comes to troops that are in Iraq and Afghanistan they want the Congress to come together to take care of our troops and to make sure they've got the resources they need to succeed.
(on camera): The deadlock means that the war in Iraq will continue to be funded on an ad hoc basis and the tough decisions about when and how to end the war will be made by the next president.
Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.
PILGRIM: The battle over the war funding bill is reflected in the fight over national security on the campaign trail. Senator McCain says it's too early to bring large numbers of our troops home from Iraq. He says most troops will stay until 2013. But Senators Obama and Clinton are insisting on a phased withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. Bill Schneider has our report.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Iraq did not play a major role in the primaries this year, that's because differences among candidates in the same party were pretty small. Both Democratic candidates support a phased withdrawal of U.S. combat troops. Hillary Clinton has a timetable for beginning troop withdrawals.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As soon as I'm elected, I'll ask the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and my security advisers to give me a plan so I can start bringing troops home within 60 days.
SCHNEIDER: Barack Obama has a timetable for ending the withdrawals.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will end this war in Iraq. I will bring our troops home within 16 months.
SCHNEIDER: The Democrats' differences with John McCain are far greater.
OBAMA: He thinks the war in Iraq has been a success and is willing to have a presence in Iraq for as long as 100 years.
SCHNEIDER: McCain says his objective is to win.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm predicting victory, I have predicted victory. And that means our troops come home with honor.
SCHNEIDER: But when?
MCCAIN: By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the service men and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in our freedom. The Iraq war has been won.
SCHNEIDER: The American public opposes the war by two to one according to a recent CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll. Obama has a slight edge over McCain when Americans are asked whose policies on Iraq they agree with more. When asked who would handle the issue better, the public says McCain. Not because they agree with his policies, but because of his experience with military matters.
(on camera): Republicans say the United States should keep its troops in Iraq until the situation is stable, leave too quickly, they warn, and Iraq could become a haven for terrorists. Democrats say the greater danger is for the U.S. to stay in Iraq.
That will recruit more terrorists and create more resentment in the Muslim world. Which is the better policy for protecting the security of the United States? That's the debate the country would like to hear.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
PILGRIM: As presidential candidates debate the war, almost 190,000 of our troops are in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan; 155,000 of those troops are fighting insurgents in Iraq; 33,000 of our troops are fighting radical Islamist terrorists in Afghanistan. And that is the highest troop level for the entire war in Afghanistan.
The military has introduced many new weapons since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And one of the most controversial is the V-22 Osprey, it's a tilt wing aircraft. Now the Osprey has just completed its first deployment in Iraq. But critics say it does not have enough fire power to operate in a combat zone. Jamie McIntyre has the report.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the V-22 Osprey flies unescorted, a lone tail gunner is its sole protector, but while not bristling with guns, the revolutionary pillow (ph) plane is bursting with speed, and that's its best defense argues the commander of the first V-22 squadron to see combat in Iraq.
LT. COL. PAUL ROCK, V-22 SQUADRON CMDR.: It's harder to hit a rabbit when he's running, you know, and we're just moving faster and much more maneuverable airplane, difficult to engage.
MCINTYRE: The V-22's original design included a front-mounted gun that was dropped to save on weight. That was after former Marine Corps Commandant Jim Jones retired.
(on camera): Does it bother you there's no nose gun?
GEN. JIM JONES (RET.), FORMER MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT: No, I would prefer that, but I may be just kind of traditional Marine that an airplane going into a hot zone that can't fire, you know, to the front.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): A hot alzier (ph) landing zone is one where enemy fighters are trying to shoot down the V-22 as it is stopping off or picking up Marines in combat. In its combat debut, the Osprey never faced that kind of trial by fire because by the time it arrived in Anbar province, peace had broken out. Last year, "TIME" magazine portrayed the V-22 as a flying shame, unsafe, unable to shoot straight, unfit for battle. Mark Thompson who wrote the cover story says the jury is still out.
MARK THOMPSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Basically the V-22 performed well as a commuter bus in Iraq. I mean it did one medivac in its seven months there. It might have been shot at twice. It basically operated as a bus or a dump truck and did all those missions well.
MCINTYRE: One of "TIME" magazine's criticisms, the lack of a forward-firing gun has been validated by the fact that now after sinking $100 billion into the Osprey , the Pentagon is about to pony up millions more to retrofit it with a belly-mounted gatling gun on a gimble.
(on camera): Could you use a little more fire power on the plane?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a (INAUDIBLE) I mean never ask a Marine if you'd like more guns. I mean, we'd always take another weapon on anything, an airplane, a Humvee or anything else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it's doable and feasible, I would like to see one there and I think most pilots would also.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): The call for arms could be even more critical next year when the Marines hope to take on a bigger role in Afghanistan.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.
PILGRIM: Still to come, the huge challenges facing our troops and their families. General David Grange will join us. Also, the remarkable story of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and his fight for survival in enemy territory.
Also the hidden dangers facing our troops on military bases in Iraq, we'll have a special report. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: General David Grange is one of this nation's most decorated former military commanders and he is here to give us his thoughts on how this country and our troops and their families can continue to function.
Thanks very much, General Grange. You know they're doing a superb job, our men and women in uniform. Do you think that the military will be able to sustain the current efforts as they stand now?
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I don't think that the military could -- can continue at the same level of commitment in both Afghanistan and in Iraq and do the other missions around the world, which you don't speak about often, but they're out there. They're doing them.
And so when we talk with the different candidates, they talk about withdrawal, different timetables, even McCain, Obama, whoever. It's going to be withdrawal no matter who is in charge, but at different paces. And that's the way you have to look at it. But for the long-term, you can't have the current numbers there now.
PILGRIM: Yeah, you know for the families watching today the surge is expected to end this summer. And the number of combat brigades in Iraq in July will be reduced from 17 to 15. Will this give families any hope that some of their sons and daughters are coming home and that the drawdown might begin?
GRANGE: I think through the year late summer into the fall you know there'll be some more draw-down, unless something really goes bad fast in Iraq, so I think the families can look forward to that. But it's still for the size of the military we have the commitments are greater than the troops available whether you're in the Marines, the Army, or the other services, so it's still going to be tremendous pressure on our armed forces unless it grows larger.
PILGRIM: General Grange, let's talk a little bit about their quality of life when they come home, the new GI Bill, it passed in the House last week. It was supposed to cover the cost of a four-year public education for our veterans. Now the Bush administration is opposed to this bill. How can we reconcile the division in our legislature and our administrative section of our government when these men and women are still on the ground in Iraq and are expecting the American government to honor their promise to them?
GRANGE: Yeah, the promises have to be honored. It must be communicated properly to maintain a trust with the armed forces, those serving in uniform. They've had problems before in other wars when they didn't meet the obligations. It's really a unity of effort requirement between Congress and the administration, whoever that may be.
And it's -- yes, it's very expensive and part of the argument is well if I pay for this, you're not going to give me the money for the other things I need to do. Like for instance training readiness as an example or new equipment. And so it's a very expensive deal, but it has to be done to keep faith of the GI.
PILGRIM: Well it certainly does, I don't think there's any question on that and I don't think anyone on this broadcast would think there was any question about honoring a commitment to the men and women in uniform. You know I'd also like to talk about something your foundation is involved in, the McCormick Tribune Foundation making a major effort to focus on the quality of pre-kindergarten for some of our troops, very young members of the military have new families. Why are you so concerned about this, General Grange?
GRANGE: Well, we're concerned about the McCormick Foundation because, one, we have an early childhood education program and we do a lot of support for military families through different agencies that provide that capacity, which is too small within the armed forces. And what a soldier, what a Marine, anybody in the armed forces is concerned about more than anything is their family, their children, their spouse. And you, you know, whether they're being shot at, they're hungry, they're tired and they're scared, it has nothing in stress-related influence as does how a family is taken care of.
PILGRIM: You know, I would like to actually bring up the comments of Sergeant Josh Daugherty on that point. Let's listen to what he has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STAFF SGT. JOSH DAUGHERTY, NATIONAL GUARD: When you're deployed, you're not there to be working with your child hands on firsthand. So you want to know that she's in good hands and someone else is reiterating the things that you would be doing. I don't fall in a bracket, a pay bracket that makes me eligible for any type of government assistance to put my child in at the quality of pre-K program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: General Grange, we're almost out of time. But what would you like to see being done?
GRANGE: Well (INAUDIBLE) who can get child care, who it's provided to, any kind of cost-sharing. We have to take care of the military families, especially when they're employed in harm's way. It's critical to military readiness and of course, our foundation and I think the rest of America should be all for it.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, General David Grange, always a pleasure. Thank you.
GRANGE: Thank you.
PILGRIM: Coming up, troops in Iraq are dying on U.S. bases. Now, has the military and its contractors done enough to fix the deadly problems?
Also we'll have the stories of two Navy SEALs honored for their heroic actions in Afghanistan. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: Lieutenant Michael Murphy (ph) was awarded the Medal of Honor, it's the military's highest honor. It was the first Medal of Honor awarded for service in Afghanistan. Lieutenant Murphy, a Navy SEAL, was honored for extraordinary courage under fire after he gave his life trying to save his men. Earlier this month the Navy announced another honor for Lieutenant Murphy. The Navy will name its newest destroyer, the USS Michael Murphy, this ship is set to be commissioned in 2011.
Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell was the only survivor of the firefight that killed Michael Murphy and 18 other Americans. Luttrell crawled miles to safety despite suffering multiple wounds. He was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism. Christine Romans has his story.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marcus Luttrell grew up in a military family, but had a romanticized view of the service until he became a Navy SEAL.
PETTY OFFICER 1ST CLASS MARCUS LUTTRELL, U.S. NAVY (RET.): I thought it was the sexist job on the planet. I mean what else could there by, but when I got there and had to go through all of it, it wasn't -- it really wasn't that sexy, you know it was tough.
ROMANS: He got through the rigorous training and was sent to fight in Iraq, he described the environment as violent all the time.
LUTTRELL: We go out there individual targets, individual sets, you know. And they're usually high-value targets, (INAUDIBLE) body guards and protection. Everything's going to be booby trapped and stuff like that, so it's pretty much aggressive the whole time.
ROMANS: Luttrell spent seven months in Iraq and was later sent to Afghanistan in 2005. On June 28th, he and three team members were sent on a reconnaissance mission, Operation Red Wing.
LUTTRELL: We were going after a high-value target. Big time militia man out there that was causing a lot of havoc on the Paki/Afghani border up there in the Kumar province. We were supposed to be in there for anywhere from 48 to 72 hours. This was day one. I guess we were there for about an hour and we got walked on by some villages, two males and you know and a kid. We interrogated them. They weren't violent toward us or anything like that, so we turned them loose. And then we relocated again. ROMANS: An hour later he says the SEALs were surrounded by over 100 Taliban fighters.
LUTTRELL: They had 360-degree you know pin on us, and there was nowhere we could go. And when I squeezed off a round, they unloaded on us and that lasted for about two hours we fought and one by one they picked us off until I was the last man left.
ROMANS: Navy SEAL Mike Murphy risked his life to call in for reinforcement, the rescue team's helicopter was destroyed by RPG, 16 more Americans killed. Luttrell despite multiple injuries crawled seven miles and made it to a village that was friendly to coalition forces. After four days, he was rescued.
LUTTRELL: One of a week of hell kind of thing. It was tough.
ROMANS: Luttrell received the Navy Cross for combat heroism in 2006.
LUTTRELL: If your heart is strong enough and you are mentally focused you can get through anything.
ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN.
PILGRIM: Air Force combat air controllers are also involved in heavy fighting on the ground. Now Technical Sergeant Jason Dryer (ph) was badly wounded in Afghanistan. He received a Bronze Star with Valor for his bravery. And Katherine Barrett has our report.
KATHERINE BARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You'll never hear Air Force Technical Sergeant Jason Dryer complain, but the shrapnel injuries for which he's receiving the Purple Heart makes standing at attention painful. Dryer's also receiving a Bronze Star with Valor, the honors put the discomfort in perspective.
TECH. SGT. JASON DRYER, U.S. AIR FORCE: They have a lot of naming for me because I'm part of history now; I'm part of those guys that came out of certain conflicts. And they get awarded and you just belong to that -- part of that brethren.
BARRETT: Dryer's brotherhood is the tight net core of Air Force Special Operations Combat Air Controllers, during his heaviest action in Afghanistan last April, Dryer coolly called in air power, beating back wave after wave of insurgent attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the team pinned down Sergeant Dryer directed 40-millimeter gunfire (INAUDIBLE) against the cave complex annihilating the cave and its inhabitants. Throughout the engagement, Sergeant Dryer provided unprecedented terminal attack control that proved decisive to countering the enemy's lethal intent.
BARRETT: Special Operations Airmen are proud to be quiet professionals, recalling the day a roadside bomb blasted him 35 feet through the air, Dryer is softer spoken than most.
DRYER: We had already gone through 36 hours of work. So we had bare minimum sleep, so we're heading back. It was a long arduous process over rough terrain. I remember turning back to my friend and saying I can't wait for this to be over.
DRYER: I don't remember anything else. I woke up in my friend's arms with all of my clothes cut off and me all bloody and whatnot.
BARRETT: Medivaced back to Kandahar Dryer suffered serious leg wounds and other injuries, but refused to stay sidelined.
LT. COL. JEFFREY STRAHAN, U.S. AIR FORCE: About 10 days after he was wounded, all he wanted to do was get back in the field and back in the fight with the men. It was amazing as a commander to go out there, pin that, and he was limping around and just as I was leaving, he was getting on a gun jeep to go out and do another mission. It was amazing to see.
BARRETT: And despite the tug of family ties, Airman Dryer wants nothing so much as to get his knees fixed and march back into battle.
Katherine Barrett for CNN at McCord Air Force Base, Tacoma, Washington.
PILGRIM: Coming up, military bases are supposed to be among the safest places in Iraq for our troops, perhaps not. We'll have a special report.
And Senator Jim Webb fought in Vietnam and he's still fighting today to help our troops and their families. Lou will speak to Senator Webb next.
PILGRIM: One of our most distinguished and influential lawmakers is Democratic Senator Jim Webb of Virginia. He also served as Navy Secretary in the Reagan administration and Senator Webb is a powerful advocate for men and women of our armed forces. Senator Webb served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. His heroism earned him a Navy Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts.
In 1984 he won an Emmy Award for his coverage of the Marines' deployment in Beirut in 1983 and Senator Webb has authored six best- selling novels. Now Lou spoke with Senator Webb about his latest book, "A Time To Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America".
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: What do you hope people will take from it at this particular moment in our history? SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: Well, one of the things that I can do up here that is a little bit different, perhaps in the vain of Daniel Patrick Moynihan is having spent most of my career in writing and thinking, I think I can bring some perspective to issues rather than simply the legislative day-to-day stuff and actually there is one section in this book about economic fairness and...
WEBB: ... social justice and those issues, and I was recalling the first time that I was on your show was when my book "Born Fighting" came out and we had -- before I ever thought I'd run for office. And we had quite an extensive discussion on issues like executive compensation.
And you pointed out for years -- I point out in this book when I finished college the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker does, now it's 400. And the troubling thing is that this is only happening in this country. You can say part of this is globalization and I think the internationalization of the American economy certainly set a lot of it into emotion, but the Japanese corporate executives make 10 times what their workers make, Germany it's 11 times.
And those are very productive economies, so if we don't put this information out in a way that people can grab a hold of it, then we can't make changes. And I figured I would just go on record saying these things as the United States senator.
DOBBS: Well I want to just read one excerpt if I may saying, "We are not engaging in the kind of constructive debate that might allow us to reach a fair set of solutions and we will only be able to do so as a byproduct of reflective thoughtful leadership that is anchored in a sense of true stewardship of our people."
The solutions that you articulate and approach in your book, I want to commend to everybody. "A Time To Fight", by Senator Jim Webb, it is -- it's a time for elevated discussion; we don't always achieve it even in times of presidential primaries and approaching a general election. Do you think we'll get there in the general election?
WEBB: It's going to be hard to predict in terms of the general election, but I think one thing that I've been trying to do here in the Senate is work on as much as we can across the aisle with people who see issues that can be solved, rather than simply throwing the lob bombs at each other.
You mentioned I was in the Reagan administration. That was an interesting time where you had a president who had very strong views who would argue with someone like Tip O'Neill, Speaker of the House, argue al day, and at the end of the day they could go out and have a beer and not make it personal. Really be able to debate fairly the issues of the day. And I'd like to get back to that, and by working really hard with people on the other side to try to do it.
DOBBS: Senator Jim Webb, we as always wish you well. We commend your new book. We recommend everyone read it. "A Time to Fight", the Senator Jim Webb. Senator great to have you with us. We wish you all the best.
WEBB: Great to be with you.
PILGRIM: Well, tonight, an unusual Memorial Day story, soldiers dying in Iraq, but not in combat. Instead, soldiers are dying in what should be one of the safest places in Iraq, a U.S. base, and what is really disturbing, officials have known about what's causing these deaths and the military has done little about it. Special Investigations Unit Correspondent, Abbie Boudreau joins us now from Atlanta. Abbie?
ABBIE BOUDREAU, SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Kitty, we've learned soldiers are being electrocuted to death not by the enemy, but from shoddy electrical work on U.S. bases.
BOUDREAU: A memorial for a fallen soldier.
CHERYL HARRIS, RYAN MASETH'S MOTHER: The doorbell rang, and I looked at my husband and I said, oh, the neighbor.
BOUDREAU: Ryan Maseth was 24-years-old from Pittsburgh.
HARRIS: And he went to answer the door, and -- I could hear the boots coming in the door. I could hear the footsteps.
BOUDREAU: No ordinary soldier, Ryan Maseth was highly decorated. An Army Ranger in the Special Forces, a Green Beret. He was trained to survive, one of three brothers serving in Iraq. Cheryl Harris is Ryan's mother.
HARRIS: I remember saying to him which one? And he just stood there and looked at me quietly. And I just said, one of them are dead, one of them has died. And they finally said Ryan.
BOUDREAU: But Ryan Maseth did not die on the battlefield. He died on a U.S. base. In his bathroom.
HARRIS: I can't make sense around Ryan's death. That he died like that. That he was so trained.
BOUDREAU: She was told her son was electrocuted while he was taking a shower. She says Army officials told her he may have been holding a small appliance when it happened.
HARRIS: It just created so much doubt. And I know Ryan, I know that he would not have been in a shower with a small appliance and electrocuted himself.
BOUDREAU: Ryan's mother felt the Army wasn't telling her the whole truth. She kept pushing. Soon uncovered what really happened to her son. The army finally told her that her son's shower water pump was improperly grounded. It short circuited sending a lethal jolt of electricity through him, leaving burn marks across his body and even singeing his hair.
Reports show he likely suffered a long, painful death. Electrocutions in Iraq have been a problem the Army has known about for years. In 20004 the Army even issued this warning bulletin calling electrocution a killer, growing at an alarming rate. Ryan Maseth is just one of at least 12 U.S. military personnel who have been electrocuted in Iraq since 2003, according to military and government officials.
BOUDREAU: So why weren't the problems in Ryan Maseth's building fixed? These Army documents show a U.S. paid contractor inspected his building and found serious electrical problems, that was 11 months before Sergeant Maseth was electrocuted. The contractor is Houston based Kellogg, Brown and Root, or KBR. KBR noted several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices.
But KBR's contract did not cover quote, "fixing potential hazards", only repairing items as they broke. So the electrical problems were never fixed. Only after sergeant Maseth died, did the Army issue an emergency order for KBR to finally fix the problem.
In this internal government e-mail obtained by CNN, a Navy captain admits the Army should have known the extent of the severity of the electrical problems. The e-mail then states the reason the Army didn't know was because KBR's inspections were never even reviewed by a qualified government employee.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), HOUSE OVERSIGHT CMTE: How did this happen? And why wasn't it corrected when we had the first signs that people were dying from electrocutions?
BOUDREAU: Congress Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee is now calling for an investigation.
WAXMAN: It's inexcusable to contemplate the idea that we send our soldiers to Iraq, and then because of neglect or incompetence they die because of electrocution. .
BOUDREAU: In a statement to CNN, the Department of Defense wrote this is a serious issue, adding that they have no information that their contract management officials failed to take appropriate action in response to unsafe conditions brought to our attention. They are reviewing the issue. Still, Cheryl Harris is suing KBR.
HARRIS: Ryan should be here.
BOUDREAU: Hoping to find someone to hold accountable for a death she said should have been prevented.
HARRIS: Now, I'm not looking to bring Ryan back, I can't. Can I help another mother? If I can prevent one more family from not feeling the pain that I do feel, then that's all that matters. Let's not have them watch their family member come off a plane in a casket.
BOUDREAU: KBR declined to speak on camera to CNN, but the company sent us a statement that said it found no evidence of a link between the work it's been asked to perform and the reported electrocution. The defense contract management agency, responsible for handling the contract with KBR, also declined to answer CNN's questions.
PILGRIM: Such a disturbing story, Abbie. What happens next?
BOUDREAU: Well, in many ways this is the beginning. Congress, as well as the Inspector General are investigating all of these deaths. There are still serious questions that need to be answered like who is responsible, and why has this been going on for so long?
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Abbie Boudreau. Thank you, Abbie.
Coming up, a new face of the military and why the Marines are looking for a few good women. And, two all American heroes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will share their incredible stories next.
PILGRIM: The U.S. Marine Corps is looking to recruit more than just a few good men. Women today comprise more than six percent of the Marine Corps, and according to law, those women serve in non- combat roles. But in Iraq and Afghanistan, the line between combat and non-combat barely exists. Barbara Starr has our report.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At Marine Corps martial arts training at Quantico, Virginia, they're moving beyond the slogan A Few Good Men. Second Lieutenant Catherine Cunningham says she's right at home.
2ND LT. CATHERINE CUNNINGHAM, U.S. MARINE CORPS: If you're a young, fit, athletic female, you're obviously going to be more successful than maybe your civilian counterparts who can't do the runs, who can't do the humps.
STARR: The Marines are now targeting active young women where they read. Ads in magazines show real women Marines on the job in the corps.
LT. COL. MIKE ZELIFF, U.S. MARINE CORPS RECRUITING CMND.: We're placing our advertisements in magazines like Shape and Fitness, and other magazines that cater specifically for the female athlete. The young woman who is interested in staying in shape.
STARR: Today, the law prohibits military women from being assigned to combat jobs no matter how fit they are. But Army Specialist Monica Brown proved these days it's often a meaningless role. Brown a combat medic was awarded a silver star by Vice President Dick Cheney after saving the lives of two fellow soldiers under fire. We asked these corporals if the policy should be changed.
CPL. TORRIE WEEKS, U.S. MARINE CORPS: I think it would be a great policy, or a great accomplishment to have women out there in the forefront. And I think it would encourage more people to join if they saw that.
CPL. REBECCA TORRES, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Me personally, I just do as I'm told. So if that policy ever changed, then I would definitely go.
STARR: The Marine Corps continues to attract both male and female recruits with images featuring fitness, patriotism, and leadership. But, one thing you won't see any time soon, are glossy ads featuring images of the wounded from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Barbara Starr, CNN, at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia.
PILGRIM: While the Marines work to recruit more women, the Army recently awarded one of the nation's highest honors to a female soldier who is still a teenager. As Barbara Starr just reported, Army Specialist Monica Brown joined the Army when she was 17, just one year later, she ran into the middle of a fire fight to help save her fellow wounded soldiers. At times shielding them with her body.
Rusty Dornin has this remarkable story from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While most teens her age were dreaming of what to wear to the prom, Army Specialist Monica Brown was dodging bullets in Afghanistan. A medic with the 82nd Airborne, she worked at a field hospital treating injured soldiers and Afghan women and children. On a spring day in April last year, her convoy was returning from patrol. Then the humvee behind her struck a mine.
SPC. MONICA BROWN, SILVER STAR RECIPIENT: We heard the explosion, convoy stopped immediately.
DORNIN: She helped pull the Sergeant Stanson Smith out of the burning truck.
SGT. STANSON SMITH, 82ND AIRBORNE: There was a lot of gunfire. I had a cut on my forehead, right there. It was bleeding into my eyes, so I thought I was bleeding pretty bad, but she calmed me down.
DORNIN: But Brown didn't just tend to Smith's wound. She tried to protect him from enemy fire.
BROWN: I heard the whistling sound of it coming in. I knew what it was as soon as it was coming in. And I just yelled, incoming and all of the other guys were like incoming, and I dove over Smith.
DORNIN: Sergeant Aaron Best saw her do it twice. SGT. AARON BEST, 82ND AIRBORNE: Another mortar round hit real close to our truck, and again, I saw her lay down over top of the casualties without even thinking about.
BROWN: I don't know why I didn't move or flinch. I mean, I heard stuff coming in and I heard bullets going by, I just didn't -- it was all about the guys on the ground.
DORNIN: One year later, Brown was awarded the nation's third highest medal for risking her own life to save others. She is only the second female to receive the Silver Star since World War II.
BROWN: My platoon sergeant.
DORNIN: Her fellow soldiers call her Silver Star girl. People call you a hero.
BROWN: No, I'm not a hero. I don't think so. I think there's a lot of other people that have done more or the same thing that I've done.
DORNIN: In the line of fire, a young woman for the history books. Rusty Dornin, CNN, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
PILGRIM: Coming up, the story of Marine Major Frank Diorio, he's bringing the lessons he learned in Iraq to the next generation of Marines. We'll have a Special Report.
Also, how new technology is helping some badly wounded veterans regain their independence. We'll have that story. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: Marine Major Frank Diorio, was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for leading more than 275 missions over a seven-month period along the Iraq-Syria border. As Philippa Holland reports, there is one particular fight that is memorable for major Diorio.
MAJOR FRANK DIORIO, U.S. MARINE CORPS: So when we talk about leadership, I want to know why they followed him --
PHILIPPA HOLLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Major Frank Diorio teaching leadership to the next generation of U.S. Marines at Virginia Military Institute. A lot has changed for Diorio in the past two years. Being in this classroom environment.
DIORIO: Very good.
HOLLAND: And having time to spend with his wife and two-year-old daughter are considered a blessing after what he's gone through. April 11th, 2005, the Marine base of Camp Gannon along the Syrian border in Husayba, Iraq, a day Major Diorio will never forget. DIORIO: I heard words come over the radio that said there was a Marine yelling fire truck, fire truck, fire truck. Everyone knew what that meant. We had known there was a fire truck somewhere in Al Anbar Province that was stolen. And we were -- it was very easy to make the assumption what they stole it for.
HOLLAND: Insurgents attacked the base with three suicide car bombs; the apparent mission to kill U.S. soldiers and take over the camp. That mission, failed.
DIORIO: (INAUDIBLE) calls in, and the first platoon called in, said first platoon no casualties. The second platoon called in, said second platoon no casualties. The third platoon called in, said no third platoon no casualties. And then fourth platoon and weapons platoon called in, and said weapons platoon no casualties. And then the attachments called in, and one after another, one after another, I said sir we don't have any casualties.
HOLLAND: No food, no sleep, no casualties. During three solid days of fighting in what was considered the most dangerous city in Al Anbar Province. Diorio did not lose a single marine during any of the 275 engagements in the seventh months he led in Iraq.
DIORIO: My job is to lead this company, and they deserve -- those Marines deserve to have somebody who is going to do it 110 percent.
HOLLAND: It's a mission Diorio says he'll remember for the rest of his life.
DIORIO: I can close my eyes and get back there. I can close my eyes and get back there very easily.
HOLLAND: But for now, Diorio is here training young cadets. Philippa Holland, CNN.
PILGRIM: Army Specialist Zachary Ridge is also a veteran of the Iraq War and after 14 months of service and one fierce battle, the 21- year-old was honored with the Bronze Star with Valor. Bill Tucker has his story.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Army Specialist Zachary Ridge joined the Army just out of high school at the age of 19. His older brother still serves in Iraq. Specialist Ridge's assignment while he was in Iraq was Ramadi, where he conducted day-to-day patrol of neighborhoods.
SPEC. ZACHARY RIDGE, U.S. ARMY: We would just walk from house to house. We'd knock on the doors, and we'd just -- ask the people if they had, or knew of any insurgents.
TUCKER: They also signed up men to join the Iraqi police force and passed out food and water. It may sound mundane, but --. RIDGE: My squad was going to one house, and our other squad that was in my platoon that was on patrol with us was going to another house. And we were going to over watch a road so our commander could come through. We got about 100 meters into the patrol, and we started taking contact machine gunfire.
So my squad bounded to our objective house, got up there and got up on the roof. And then the second squad, they got to their objective. And we were just -- everything kind of got quiet when we got to our objectives. And then a sniper shot and killed Ming Sunh (PH).
TUCKER: Ming Sunh was a fallen comrade, they were not going to leave him behind.
RIDGE: We was penned down, and when they were getting Ming Sunh off the roof, our L.t. Told us to cover fire. And we just stood up and just started covering firing for him.
TUCKER: For his courage under fire, and his ability to take charge and lead soldiers in combat, Ridge was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.
RIDGE: When we got to Ramadi, it was pretty much the worst place in Iraq. It was like the wild west. But when -- by the time we were there for six or eight months, it was -- we turned it into the safest place in Iraq. We did our job -- what we were supposed to do in ramadi.
TUCKER: Back home in Lake City, Arkansas, Ridge is a hometown hero. Bill Tucker, CNN.
PILGRIM: Our troops are also involved in heavy fighting in Afghanistan. Now, Corporal Joel Dulashanti is an Army sniper. He barely survived a terrifying enemy attack in Afghanistan. Casey Wian has the story.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Corporal Joel Dulashanti was an Army sniper with the 82nd Airborne division, sent to Afghanistan earlier this year to gather reconnaissance.
CPL. JOEL DULASHANTI, U.S. ARMY: We'd go out and sort of position where -- since we had high-powered scopes and stuff, we could see people. And basically we were kind of like sneaky guys.
WIAN: Sneaky, because their work often involved setting up in enemy territory. And as winter turned to spring, the area became a hot bed of activity.
DULASHANTI: There were a lot more vehicles that would be blown up -- by the IEDs that were out there and being planted. And a lot more fire fights and engagements. WIAN: And on May 4th, what started out as a normal day, ended with a violent fire fight.
DULASHANTI: We ended up chasing some guys around in a moped. We knew that they had weapons on them. They were running away from us.
WIAN: As they chased the guys into the village, the pursuit continued on foot.
DULASHNTI: We were walking through a grassy field and I smelled body odor. So I kind of stopped for a second, like I smell body odor, and I turned to my side. And when I turned my idea is that they probably thought I has seen where they were so they opened up on me.
After the first round hit me, it went through my left leg. I was stunned. I was like, oh, man, this is a round through my knee. At that point, I was hit by another round. And that's how it went until I fell to the ground. It was boom, boom, boom.
WIAN: Dulashanti was shot three times, hit in both legs and shot in the abdomen. After suffering life-threatening injuries, he is now recovering at Walter Reid.
DULASHANTI: For the most part I'm just trying to gain weight. I lost 100 pounds. And I'm just trying to gain my weight back. And tolerate standing and bearing weight on both legs and learning how to walk.
WIAN: In July, he received the Purple Heart. Casey Wian, CNN reporting.
PILGRIM: Still ahead, how alternative transportation is helping wounded veterans regain their independence.
PILGRIM: One of the most amazing stories is the way technology is helping seriously wounded veterans regain their independence. Jamie McIntyre reports on how the Segway scooter is helping veterans with disabilities.
DALE BEATTY, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I think the hardest part for a guy like me -- amputees is getting on and off. Once you're on, it's really, you know, very easy.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Staff Sergeant Dale Beatty lost both legs in Iraq when a pair of anit-tank mines ripped through the bottom of his unarmored humvee. He learned to walk on two prosthetic legs and still uses a wheelchair. But he's now the proud owner of a new set of wheels. The gyro stabilized human locomotor known as a Segway.
BEATTY: I would use this if I were going to the zoo or amusement park to keep me from having to walk so much.
MCINTYRE: Sergeant Beatty is the beneficiary of a charity called Seg for Vets, which over the past two years has donated about 150 Segways, which retail for about $6,000, to wounded war veterans, mostly amputees. Jerry Kerr, partially paralyzed after a diving accident is the charity's founder and driving force.
When I think of a quadripledric, I think it's somebody who can barely move at all.
JERRY KERR, DISABILITY RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Quadriplegia refers to our level of injury -- cervical level, not necessarily your ability to move around.
MCINTYRE: Now, you have a Segway that has a seat.
KERR: I do. Because of my injury, I can't stand for very long.
MCINTYRE: But you can pull yourself up?
KERR: I can, I get myself up. And you notice my hands don't work well. When I'm standing here -- I look a lot different than when I'm standing on my Segway. And when I try to walk, I'm not nearly as elegant as I am when I'm on my Segway.
MCINTYRE: But on his Segway, Kerr looks just like any other upstanding citizen.
KERR: And that's for me one of the great things about it, is that it really causes my disability to disappear.
MCINTYRE: The best part about a Segway, says Sergeant Beatty, is that no one looks down on you, literally or figuratively.
BEATTY: When I was confined to a wheelchair for long periods of time, that -- everybody looking down on you -- it's kind of -- I know nobody means anything by it --
MCINTYRE: You used that phrase, confined to a wheelchair.
BEATTY: Well, you are.
MCINTYRE: Which is how people feel. It doesn't feel liberating. Does this feel liberating?
BEATTY: Yes, it does. I could outrun you easy. No problem.
MCINTYRE: All right.
BEATTY: Let's go.
MCINTYRE: On your mark. Get set. Go.
BEATTY: You got me on the takeoff.
MCINTYRE: Jamie McIntyre, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)
PILGRIM: Thanks for joining us. Please join us tomorrow. From all of us here, to our servicemen and women and their families around the world, thank you. Good night from New York.