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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

2 U.S. Filmmakers Injured in Kenya Plane Crash; 1 Dead, 15 Hurt in Canada Stage Collapse; Iran State TV Confirms Arrest of 3 Americans

Aired August 2, 2009 - 06:00   ET

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


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, hey there, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING for August the 2nd. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin, in for Betty Nguyen. It is 6 a.m. in Atlanta; 5 a.m. in Chicago; 3 in Las Vegas. Thanks for sticking around with us on this Sunday.

HOLMES: Yes, and we have gotten some video in to us overnight here, new video of a plane crash in Nairobi, Kenya. Everybody onboard that plane you're seeing there were Americans. They all got out of there for the most part. We'll tell you what happened here in this crash, why this happened.

Also, dozen of Kenyans came to the rescue of those onboard. We're going to hear from one of the passengers, actually, in just a few minutes. But it was kind of a scary situation of that plane flying a little low. But for the most part, like I said, everybody got out of there and expected to survive. But at least one person we know of did die on that crash. Four Americans. More details coming up in just a second.

BALDWIN: Americans just in their 20s.

HOLMES: Yes, (INAUDIBLE).

BALDWIN: Can you imagine?

Also coming up, an amazing story of patience and love through some letters. One man was wrongly sent to prison and he was exonerated 14 years later. And the love of his life was still waiting with open arms.

HOLMES: Yes, a story you're bringing us this morning.

BALDWIN: I am.

HOLMES: A good story, an interesting story. Too bad they had to go through went through.

BALDWIN: Yes.

HOLMES: But still.

BALDWIN: Tough stuff, great story. We'll introduce you to these guys coming up.

HOLMES: Also, it's early for us. Breakfast - you need breakfast in the morning, of course.

BALDWIN: Right. Right.

HOLMES: Gumbo not exactly the breakfast of champions. But hey...

BALDWIN: We're not picky.

HOLMES: We were not picky around here.

BALDWIN: We were eating.

HOLMES: Gumbo, that stuff. We're going to tell you how to make it. But also, it's part of the new "America I Am" cookbook. And the recipe is on our blog, but also we'll tell you how you can be a part of that cookbook with some of your recipes being handed down as well.

But let's tell you about some of those stories we are following overnight. An outdoor stage collapses at a concert in Canada, and one person is dead. Fifteen others were injured. Some of those injuries are critical.

This happened after a violent storm with high winds hit. There was hail and heavy rain that slammed into this area during a performance last night. One survivor describing now this frightening scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF MARIA ORYDZUK, SURVIVED DECK COLLAPSE: We were on the Poster Deck B (ph), which means we get access to the show on stage. The next thing I know, we're running off. And we're 20 feet on - off - off on the stage. And the stage (INAUDIBLE), comes out of nowhere. And literally, the whole poster deck (ph) crashes, just like a midway ride at Capital X (ph).

Next thing I know, there is, like, concrete and there's, like, something on top of my back. I can't see a thing. All I'm doing is yelling for my sister. There's children on the deck with us. It was awful. I thought my life was literally ending because it was completely dark and black. And I can honestly say, if I wasn't as thin as I was, I would never have gotten out, because it was a tiny - tiny hole that I crawled through. And it was probably, I don't know, (NAUDIBLE) feet that I had to jump. It was the scariest part of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Wow.

HOLMES: Yes, just to give you an idea of where there was. Again, in Canada, we're talking about 15,000 people were attending this concert. This was at a festival. This is about 50 miles south of Edmonton. And one little side note here, I don't know if you a lot of you all know, the actor Kevin Costner has a band, actually. His band was scheduled to take stage just moments are that stage actually collapsed there. We'll continue to follow that story for you.

BALDWIN: You can really hear the fear in her voice.

HOLMES: Uh huh.

BALDWIN: And also, a scary scene in Chicago. Police say someone fired into a crowd outside of a church in Chicago - a church, wounding six people. They were all there attending a funeral at the church on Chicago's west side. Officers believe the shooting was most likely gang related.

None of the injuries was life-threatening, but one man, we're told, is in serious condition. No arrests yet this morning.

HOLMES: U.S. officials say they are still working to confirm reports that three Americans have been arrested after crossing into Iran from Iraq. But they have already notified the families. Also, they've asked Switzerland, which represents U.S. diplomatic interests in Iran's capital city of Tehran, to check on those Americans.

BALDWIN: Now, this whole story started Friday. These Americans apparently were hiking into Iran from eastern Iraq's Kurdistan region over in an unmarked border. There were no signs...

HOLMES: Yes.

BALDWIN: ... just as Arwa Damon was telling us yesterday. And that's according, also, to Iran's state-run media and Kurdish officials.

HOLMES: And again, our Arwa Damon has been following this story for us from Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iranian Press TV is reporting that three Americans have been detaining for straying across the border from northern Iraq after failing to heed border guard's warnings. Among them, one has been identified as Joshua Fattal by his mother. And the other one, a fourth American, who was traveling with the three, has been identified as Sean MacFessil (ph), is believed to be, according to his grandmother, at the U.S. embassy.

Now, the four started out their journey in Syria, traveling to Turkey before they crossed into northern Iraq on July 28. On July 30, they arrived in Sulaimaniyah, and then on the morning of the 31st, the three, including Joshua Fattal, traveled to an area near the Iranian border known as Ahmed Awa.

Sean MacFessil stayed behind because he was feeling ill.

The three at the border were said to have been warned by local tourists police that they were very close to Iran, and that they should watch out. The border in this area isn't a fence, it's a natural border, and that they should pay attention because these were very tense times.

The three were last heard from when they placed a phone call back to Sean MacFessil at 1:30 on Friday, saying, 'We are surrounded by the Iranian military.' There have been ongoing efforts to try to secure specific information about what happened after that point and gain access to the three that are believed to be in custody in Iran. The U.S. State Department saying that is has asked Swiss diplomats in Iran to try to verify reports that the three are being held there, and if that is in fact the case, to try to gain counsel or access to them.

The great concern here is that this could potentially escalate into an international incident given the three-way tensions between the U.S., Iran and Iraq.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now, the U.S. State Department also says it has no reason to believe the Iranian media reports are false. The deputy spokesman, Robert Wood, said - quote - "The protection of American citizens is our highest priority."

And as you just heard our Arwa Damon mention, one of the Americans is Joshua Fattal. It was quiet outside his home in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania yesterday. His family is refusing to answer a whole bunch of questions, but his mom did answer a few. She did talk briefly with CNN Radio by phone.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

VOICE OF LAURA FATALL, MOTHER OF DETAINED AMERICAN: My husband and I are eager for the best welfare and conditions for our son Josh and for the other two companions he's with. And that is our only concern, his - his welfare and the best conditions for him.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HOLMES: The Fattal family has called the situation "a private matter" and has reportedly asked their neighbors in Elkins Park not to speak with the media either.

BALDWIN: President Obama leaves Camp David for Washington a little later this morning. And then tomorrow, he will be marking the launch of the post-9/11 GI Bill, which extends benefits for those who served on or after September 11. And then later, the president will be meeting with the emir of Kuwait at the White House.

And then on the docket for Wednesday, the president will be making another visit to the Midwest, to Elkhart, Indiana, a town hit hard by the economic downturn.

Thursday, Mr. Obama will be at a fundraiser for Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds, who is running for governor.

And question for you: have these second 100 days of these Obama administration been days of change or days of frustration? Let your voice be heard. We want to hear from you. Cast your vote. Just go to CNN.com/reportcard, and then get the results on the CNN's "NATIONAL REPORT CARD," Thursday night, 8 p.m. Eastern time.

HOLMES: Well, New York's LaGuardia airport getting back on schedule this morning after an interesting day yesterday.

BALDWIN: Thank goodness.

HOLMES: A day after we saw a fake bomb that forced pretty much...

BALDWIN: Hundreds.

HOLMES: Shut down yesterday.

BALDWIN: Shut down that airport.

Susan Candiotti was there, and she tells us how one homeless man with a backpack allegedly caused such a scare.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of passengers were hurried outside one of LaGuardia's terminals by a bomb scare that disrupted flights for hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's sad. It's sad that we live in a society that people are like that.

CANDIOTTI: At 5:00 a.m., passengers were just starting to arrive when suspect 32-year-old Scott McGann approached this security checkpoint

(on camera): A law-enforcement source tells CNN McGann appeared intoxicated and was carrying a backpack. Attached to its outside, in plain view, were two square batteries with wires sticking out.

When asked not to move, McGann allegedly failed to comply. He looked as though he was trying to push a switch, but nothing happened.

(voice-over:) McGann was arrest and the terminal evacuated, sending scores of air travelers dragging suitcases into the hot sun.

Outside, New York's bomb squad used a water cannon to detonate the device. It was fake.

DAVID GINZBERG, PASSENGER: A bomb scare is a bomb scare. They can't just hope that it's a false alarm every time, because some time they'd be wrong

CANDIOTTI: Passengers were on standby while flights were delayed or canceled, before the terminal fully reopened after about six hours. (on camera): McGann, who has three prior New York City arrests, now faces state charges, including planting a fake bomb and making terror threats. The FBI also is investigating.

The question is, what was he up to? A law-enforcement source tells us McGann had boarding passes on several connecting flights, from New York to Chicago to Denver and on to Oakland, California.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: So did he have multiple tickets?

HOLMES: A lot of questions, obviously.

BALDWIN: A lot of questions.

HOLMES: But yes, we just had their look on our faces, like, 'Wait, he has boarding passes for all these places.' So, who knows? Unfortunate situation we were watching...

BALDWIN: So frustrating.

HOLMES: ...yesterday.

BALDWIN: We talked to a bunch of folks trying to get...

HOLMES: Yes.

BALDWIN: ...on flights yesterday morning.

Coming up, we're going to take a look at some of the most shocking video of the day. An American film crew crashes in Nairobi. Look at this video. A reporter, they're on the ground catching the aftermath on maybe a cell-phone camera.

HOLMES: Also, an exhibit that celebrates black America. Look at those students there. They're getting an educational lesson. They're seeing the signature, yes, of Abraham Lincoln. That signature and many new artifacts are being used as a hands-on educational tool.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: All right. Time for us to say good morning to Reynolds, joining us up here.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys.

BALDWIN: Good morning.

HOLMES: We got some video to show before we get over here to Reynolds, a video we're getting out of Kenya. This captures the chaos and confusion after a small plane carrying four Americans crashed in Nairobi.

BALDWIN: Can you imagine being on the ground and just taking these pictures?

Here's what we know: four people were onboard. The pilot was killed. The three other passengers were taken to a hospital. One of them, we're told, is still in the - coma. A Kenyan official says the plane crashed into a three-story residential building. And he says the plane was flying slowly and - get this - it was 50 feet off the ground.

One of the Americans talked to a reporter shortly after the crash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT LEHER, SURVIVED PLANE CRASH: We still don't know what happened to the pilot. I really don't know what happened. I just know that we crashed. And I don't know why. I wish I could tell you why. But I - I just - I don't know what else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: And you heard him mention he didn't know what happened to the pilot. That was earlier on, that interview. But we do know the pilot died in that crash. So two of the injured passengers were shooting a documentary about poverty in Africa. And there's some confusion that - at 50 feet, why were they flying 50 feet?

Well, one of the passengers, actually, that was shooting that documentary, the door was opened to the plane, apparently, because he had been leaning out, shooting. So don't know if there was some issue with the plane and they had to start flying low and maybe trying to land, or if they were actually going that low to try to get up close and get some good video for the documentary. So there was a question about what exactly happened.

Either way, you're flying 50 feet, that's...

BALDWIN: Not a good idea.

HOLMES: It's going to get you in trouble.

WOLF: Our condolences to the pilot. But - but let's be honest, the idea that anyone lived in that...

(CROSSTALK)

WOLF: ...is really a miracle within itself. I mean, you get a plane...

BALDWIN: Crashing into a building.

WOLF: Yes, that's - that's kind of a - a bad situation.

HOLMES: And that guy we saw there, that was the crash victim. He's standing there, seems perfectly fine, in some ways. He has a bandage on, but he crawled out of there, and they kind of walked away. And some of the crash victims, they've been twittering and blogging about it, since we often see that now, and everything that happens around the world, people immediately start twittering and whatnot.

So reminder to you, you can, as always, send us anything that's on your mind this morning. Twitter, Facebook, you know where to find us where to find us by now. On our blog as well.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HOLMES: Well, surviving in this economy means getting creative sometimes. And one small business started charging less to get paid more. Yes, it's working. We'll explain.

BALDWIN: And Josh Levs tracking the president's progress.

Josh, good morning.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you guys.

Yes, it's your to grade President Obama and Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton. Plus, you can grade the media. Oh boy. I'm going to show you how.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF: Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. We're brightening up for you.

And, you know, it sounds like a winning business, a place where you can drop off your kids and let them have as much fun as they want. But in this recession, let's be honest, even a place like that can struggle.

So the owners of this Charlotte, North Carolina, business got creative and they got active. Here's a look at Bounce U.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF (voice-over): Scott and Julie Hamilton took their life savings and borrowed money from family and the bank to invest in their dream. These parents of three boys opened a kid-friendly franchise, Bounce U, in Charlotte, North Carolina, last year. An entrepreneurial strong city.

And then the economy took a nosedive.

JULIE HAMILTON, BOUNCE U OWNER: We knew we were going to have to get creative and proactive.

WOLF: That meant coming up with a marketing strategy to get customers in the door. They focused on children's birthdays and smaller, less expensive parties, and even some weeknight activities

J. HAMILTON: We now have party packages that start at $150. And they're -- we have from all different kinds of sizes, all different budgets. And that seems to have really helped a lot.

SCOTT HAMILTON, BOUNCE U OWNER: It's not just the weekend business, which is originally what we bought into it for. Now it's something that we have parties on the weeknights, we have summer camp during the day. We'll have open bounce as well.

WOLF: They're seeing it pay off. The business has increased by 20 percent with zero layoffs. It's a common story in Charlotte.

According to the chamber of commerce, more than 7,300 jobs have been created by new business so far this year, mostly small business.

The Hamiltons say TV and direct-mail ads, online marketing and fund-raising partnerships have all helped.

S. HAMILTON: We have called every school and every church and every youth group and every scouting group and we're talking to them about our different programs.

WOLF: All part of the plan to get people through their doors and keep them coming back.

S. HAMILTON: It's real easy to get on the inflatables and play with the kids and see them laugh. But at the end of the day, it's mom and dad that you want to go home feeling like they've gotten a good value for what they've paid for.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF: You can catch a new "Money & Main St." this Thursday morning on "AMERICAN MORNING," starting at 6 a.m. Eastern.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: (INAUDIBLE)

Well, hey there.

BALDWIN: Hi.

HOLMES: As President Obama completes his second 100 days in office, we are inviting you to grade him on how you think he's doing.

BALDWIN: Hmm. Josh Levs joins us with something that has just opened up on CNN.com.

Hey, Josh.

LEVS: Hey. Hey there, guys. It's live this morning, as of right now. We had talked about it yesterday, that it would be there.

Here's what it actually looks like. Let's zoom right in; you can see it on your screen. We're going to show you CNN.com/reportcard. Easy to get to.

Now, it's part of CNN Politics, and here's how it works. We give you all these topics - for example, here, the economy is one of the topics. You can click on it by going right here. And then over here, you can give the president and his entire administration a letter grade, anywhere from "A" down to "F."

Let me bang through a few of these, because this gets interesting. You got the economy, obviously important; health-care reform; foreign affairs. And then you start getting into other people. You can judge Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. You can grade Vice President Joe Biden.

And as we click through a few more of these, you've got your senators. You get to grade Congress, Republican leadership and the media. I am curious to see how all these are going to go and how the grades work out as well.

Check - a look at this. This is interesting. We've put together one kind of subset of the first hundred days. All the Facebook users who judged the president after his first 100 days overall gave him a "C+" at that point. So there's different ways to break it down. But it is going to be interesting to see how people judge this time.

Now, I encourage you while you're there, get some facts. CNNpolitics.com is going to show you all sorts of major issues that this president faces and what he's been dealing with and how he's been handling them. So when you get to CNNpolitics.com, spend a few minutes, take a look at the major issues, look at what was promised, what's been accomplished and what hasn't.

In addition to all of that, we have some big discussions going on. Let's go to the graphic right here. I want you to see how you can weigh in with your thoughts beyond just a letter, all right? We got a lot going on our blog this morning, CNN.com/NEWSROOM. Also we're up at Facebook and Twitter/joshlevsCNN.

I'm already hearing from a bunch of people. I'll show you a couple examples right here just to show you these discussions have been going so far.

Kimberly wrote - writes here, "I've critical as I've been of the president on some of the hot-button, media-drive issues, after only 200 days, I still give him a grade of B-."

Let's - I was getting a couple more.

Shannon, "A for effort, C- for everything else."

And Lawrence is saying, "A+, he's doing great."

So keep them coming. We obviously love to hear from you.

And again, it's all right there for you, CNN.com/reportcard. And then you're going to be able to see the results coming up, because that's on CNN's "NATIONAL REPORT CARD," Thursday night, 8:00 Eastern. That's your time to tune. Obviously, you want to see the results, see how your views compare to everyone else's all over the country. So take part over the next few days, and then be with us. CNN - you can see right there, Thursday night, 8:00.

T.J., Brooke, back to you.

BALDWIN: I guess it's only fair to grade members of the media, as they're grading Congress and the president.

HOLMES: I don't think that's fair.

LEVS: Are you guys a little nervous about that?

HOLMES: I don't think that's fair.

LEVS: I'm a little nervous about that.

BALDWIN: It - I - it's only fair.

LEVS: It's only fair.

HOLMES: It's not the best idea.

BALDWIN: Oh T.J.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Thanks, Josh.

LEVS: Thanks, you guys.

BALDWIN: We'll look out for those grades.

Coming up here, we're talking this morning about a couple stories. One, as a stage here collapsing at a music festival in Canada trapped dozens of adults, kids - and we have one woman on the phone fearing for her life as she struggled to find her way out of there.

HOLMES: Also, Congress heading out on vacation. You know, hard work...

BALDWIN: (INAUDIBLE)

HOLMES: ...up there trying to pass legislation.

BALDWIN: Busy job. Busy job.

HOLMES: Hard work. Busy job. All right.

Well, even though they're heading out on vacation, the president's got a tough workweek ahead. And of course, at the top of the agenda, health care.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Hello there, everybody. Welcome back to this CNN SUNDAY MORNING for 6:30 Eastern time here where we sit, and 5:30 Central time in Detroit and other places. I'm T.J. Holmes. BALDWIN: Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin, sitting in for Betty Nguyen.

Following a couple stories for you this morning. I want to get straight to a scary situation in Canada. Take a look at the video here. An outdoor stage collapses at this concert. One person is dead, 15 injured, some of them, as you can imagine, critically.

What happened? Well, a violent storm with high winds, hail, heavy rain, slammed into this area during a performance last night, mid- performance.

One survivor, on the phone, describing the scene. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ORYDZUK: We were on the Poster Deck B (ph), which means we get access to the show on stage. The next thing I know, we're running off. And we're 20 feet on - off - off on the stage. And the stage (INAUDIBLE), comes out of nowhere. And literally, the whole poster (ph) deck crashes, just like a midway ride at Capital X (ph).

Next thing I know, there is, like, concrete and there's, like, something on top of my back. I can't see a thing. All I'm doing is yelling for my sister. There's children on the deck with us. It was awful. I thought my life was literally ending because it was completely dark and black. And I can honestly say, if I wasn't as thin as I was, I would never have gotten out, because it was a teeny, tiny hole that I crawled through. It was probably, I don't know, a good 50 feet down that I had to jump. It was the scariest part of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, scary.

Also we have found out actor Kevin Costner, and his band, they were there. They were scheduled to perform. In fact, one concert- goer saying Costner was back stage when happened. About 15,000 people were attending the concert during a festival, in Camrose (ph), that's about 50 miles south of Edmonton, in the Alberta Province.

HOLMES: A NATO official say two separate attacks killed three U.S. service members and a French soldier in Afghanistan. The three Americans were killed when their patrol struck roadside bombs in southern Afghanistan. The French government says they lost a soldier after service members were attacked east (sic) of Afghanistan. And two French troops were also wounded.

BALDWIN: Israeli police are treating a deadly shooting inside a Tel Aviv gay club as a hate crime. At least two people are dead, 11 others injured. Witnesses say a man walked in and just started shooting. He escaped on foot. Police are searching for him right now.

HOLMES: Lawmakers are clearing out from the capital for the recess, but that doesn't mean Washington will grind to a halt. BALDWIN: Let's bring CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser, with a look at what is happening in the political world this week.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good morning, Brooke, T.J.

Let's begin with Sonia Sotomayor. On Tuesday the full Senate begins debating her nomination to the Supreme Court. They are expected to vote on her nomination later in the week.

Remember, she passed the committee, 13 to 6 and she is expected to pass the full Senate as well, and be confirmed to the high court. Already at least six Republicans have said they'll vote to confirm her to the Supreme Court.

Also this week for the Senate, health care. I know you heard about it just about every week. This week is no different. The Senate Finance Committee continues negotiations as they try to hammer out a bill.

The Senate, remember this is their last week in session before they go out on summer recess. The House, they have already begun their recess, lawmakers are back home. And I would assume a lot of them are going to be back in their districts, speaking to voters, holding town halls and listening to what voters like and don't like when it comes to health care reform proposals.

The president, this week, he'll be talking about health care as well. He'll be at meetings and I'm sure he'll be speaking out on health care reform.

But on Tuesday he may take a little time out because it's his birthday. Wednesday the president is going to the town of Elkhart, Indiana. He was there in early February. He went there to talked about the stimulus bill, at the time. He's going back to talk about the stimulus and economy again. Why Elkhart? This is a town with high unemployment.

Also, the next day the president goes back out on the campaign trail, not for himself, but going out for fellow Democrat Creigh Deeds. He's the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia. There's a big election there this year. The democratic would like to keep that seat in Democratic hands.

Also, this week the president marks 200 days in office. And CNN -this is something you're going to want to watch --Thursday night, our "National Report Card" in prime time, 8:00 o'clock, Eastern. Where we give your grades out; how you graded Barack Obama, Congress and other things. Remember you can go online, CNN.com and cast your vote and grade Congress and the president. That's all at CNN.com - Brooke, T.J.

HOLMES: Thanks to our Paul Steinhauser.

When you think of the African-American experience here in this country, you don't necessarily first think of Prince's guitar. But, yes, that guitar is one of many things that are part of a new exhibit called "America I Am." Prince's guitar is there, but also things like The Emancipation Proclamation. PBS journalist Tavis Smiley came up with the idea of the exhibit. I asked him about the exhibit recently. That conversation now, as CNN continues its special look at "Black in America."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAVIS SMILEY, "AMERICA I AM": This is part of American history. If there is anything that we've struggled with in my generation, certainly folk (ph) older than me, have been complaining for years that we don't teach, we don't see black history as a part of American history. It's a powerful story about how America has become the great nation that she is courtesy of the contributions of black people.

I hope, having said that, that all races, colors, creeds, ethnicities, would appreciate an exhibit like this. When you understand, appreciate, and embrace your history, you can use it to inspire you.

HOLMES: There is some black history taught in schools. Nothing like what you see here. Is this what we need more so as a part of our educational system, something a little more interactive, something more enlightening for young African-American students - and this very much an educational tool -does something like this need to be taking (sic) into schools and made more a part of the curriculum?

SMILEY: I think it's a great question because it's true, and I'm an example, that not all kids learn the same way. I can't imagine that you and I have the same capacity, or same process, for how we go through the information that we gather just to be talk show hosts, to be anchors. So, that my approach is one way, your approach is another way.

And learning is the same way. I don't believe one size fits all. Any educator worth his weight in gold understands that there are myriad ways that young people learn. One of the best ways, and I think any educator will tell you, one of the best ways for young students, for kids, to learn is visually. It's important for them to see this. It comes to life: 15,000 square feet, 12 galleries, four theaters, over 300 items. But I got these young kids started.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

We're going to move back in time. We are going to go through this hallway, back in time, and we're going to start in Africa where it all began.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMILEY: And I looked in their eyes, T. J., and I can see the oooh, the aaah, the excitement. I'm getting questions by hundreds of kids. They are screaming and yelling at me, wanting to know this, wanting to know that, because seeing it is bringing it to life for them. I think that the visual display of an exhibit like this is a way to teach kids in ways that they can't learn just by studying history books.

NYLA BUSH, EXHIBIT VISITOR: If you look around at the museum you'll see that it's really a lot of things that displays did to help us and everybody else in here, to help us right now.

They were treated really brutal.

It was like the way they were treated really didn't make sense because color -- black and white they aren't colors, so, and they should never have been separated because they are all people. No matter what color they are, what their skin tone is, they are all people. They should be treated the same way. We're all brothers and sisters in God's hands.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: So, it's making a stop in Atlanta. It is its second stop. It will head to LA after this. It will be in Atlanta until the first of September. So check it out if you get a chance. Really some powerful stuff to walk through and take the time.

BALDWIN: He makes a great point, because kids, they want to see, they want to touch. It's all tangible. And so, Prince's guitar is there.

HOLMES: That's cool stuff.

BALDWIN: That's awesome.

HOLMES: You get them in maybe with that, but then they see all the history that goes before that.

BALDWIN: That's great.

HOLMES: It's a cool way to learn.

BALDWIN: I'll have to check it out.

HOLMES: You do need to check it out.

BALDWIN: I will.

HOLMES: You may not have a historical artifact, but that guy has a way that you and your family can forever be a part of the "American I Am" exhibit. It's just a matter of having the right ingredients.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: You don't have to have an historical artifact to be part of the "America I Am" exhibit.

HOLMES: Yes, just dust off those prized family recipes, sends them to the "America I Am Pass It Down Cookbook contest. "New York Times" best-selling cookbook author, Chef Jeff, is what you know him as. Jeff Henderson will edit the yet-to-be published cookbook. He has some experience in that department. But -

BALDWIN: Before he looks at your recipe we asked for one of his.

Chef Jeff, great to see you, and meet you.

JEFF HENDERSON, EDITOR, "AMERICA I AM PASS IT DOWN" COOKBOOK: Hey, T.J., what's going on?

HOLMES: Good to see you again.

BALDWIN: Um, yum. What do you have going on here?

HENDERSON: We have a dish here called seafood gumbo. It's a tradition in my family. This is actually my grandfather's recipe. I kind of changed a few things up so I don't know that he would approve of it, but I think he would be proud.

HOLMES: Which part would he not approve of?

HENDERSON: Well, you know -

HOLMES: What adjustments are you making here?

HENDERSON: Well, actually the adjustments I've made here, I add chicken wings to the gumbo because it infuses the water for a more flavorable broth.

I also changed the traditional Louisiana blue crab to king crab because they're easier to access and get the meat out, so you don't have to sit there with a crab breaker there.

So, here we have, you guys like to see how I start it off?

BALDWIN: Yes, sir.

HOLMES: Start making it, man.

HENDERSON: Here we have a little bit of onion, a little celery, bell pepper, with some smoked turkey sausage andoui (ph). The key is to a gumbo is the roux. My granddaddy always said, it's all about the roux. The roux is what you have, equal parts of flour and butter, or some people use flour and oil. But I season the flour. I season the roux. Then you cook it down for about 12 to 15 minutes. It comes out about like this. That's how you get that darker, rich gravy flavor.

BALDWIN: Let's take a look. Let's see what this looks like. This is the roux.

HENDERSON: That's the roux. That's a thickening agent and it adds flavor, actually, to the gumbo itself.

HOLMES: How critical - and you know, when we talk about the book, the cookbook and we'll be soliciting recipes from folks. How important these things that these recipes don't get lost? That they get handed down? I grew up in the kitchen, with my mom, so I know a lot of recipes just from being in the kitchen. She made me, you know, peel the potatoes or whatever it may be. You learned stuff like that.

HENDERSON: It's very important that this cookbook here, "Pass It Down" cookbook is a documentation, to see the historical value, to where we can document the recipes that came from generations, generations. With the "America I Am" exhibit, which exhibiting 500 years of African-American contributions to this country, food was a big part of that.

We have okra here that actually came across the Atlantic during the slave trade where a lot of the slaves put the seeds in their dress. And that's how okra was introduced to America. We're doing a national call. We're trying to get grandma's recipes, from generation to generation, you know of entrees and side dishes and different things of that nature.

BALDWIN: You talk about food being an integral part in the African-American culture. Why do you think that is? Why do you think food can really help tell one's story, a family story?

HENDERSON: You know, during the slave times, you know, hundreds of years ago, food was the centerpiece of the evening. And soul food was grown out of slavery, which Southern cuisine came from soul food. Slaves would be out in the fields, and they would make hoe cakes. They would take the end of a hoe that you would cultivate the ground with, create a fire and use that flat piece to make hoe cakes and to sear sausages and pieces of meat that they may have had out there in the field.

So, it was very important. And you know, in most families, especially in the South, Sunday is a day that the family comes together and have dialogue. I call it kitchen central. Everybody meets in the kitchen. Family comes together. You know, deals are done in the kitchen, family reunions are done in the family kitchen. It's an amazing project and I'm excited to be in on it.

HOLMES: As we wrap up here, and you show us the final product, we hear the term thrown around, you all used it a couple of times. Define for us -- how would you define or sum up just soul food. You hear it thrown around. Everybody wants a soul food restaurant these days.

BALDWIN: What is it.

HENDERSON: Soul food is - it means different things to many different people. In different regions of the country people fry chicken different. The big debate on fried chicken some use pork fat, some people make it a little healthier with vegetable oil, using organic chicken. So, soul food is everybody's take on foods that they grew up on, generation to generation.

HOLMES: Healthy fried chicken, that's just blasphemy.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Oxymoron if I ever heard one.

HENDERSON: Yes, yes, yes.

BALDWIN: So, what you're looking for in this "Pass It Down" cookbook is soul-filled, soul food recipes?

HENERSON: Yes. You submit your recipe, that comes with a very, very unique story of that particular dish. And that's what we're asking for.

HOLMES: And we are taking from our folks out there. The blog, send them to us. You know how to get a hold of us by now. Send them to our blog, CNN.com/newsroom. Send us your recipes and we'll pass them along to Chef Jeff.

Also, like he just said, you know where to find him as well.

And this is the final product here?

HENDERSON: Yes.

HOLMES: This is what it is supposed to come out looking like.

HENDERSON: It's best served with a little bit of rice. Some people add Ritz crackers or saltine crackers. And you put a big family bowl on the table, and you dig in, and you dole it out.

BALDWIN: Everybody has a favorite family recipe. And most of them are handed down from one generation to the next. Just thinking about it makes us hungry. Time to share the wealth and enter the wonderful world of publishing.

HOLMES: From now until the end o this month, you can enter your recipe online at www.PassItDownCookbook.com. And it just may show up in the "America I Am Pass It Down Cookbook". That address again, www.PassItDownCookbook.com".

BALDWIN: Chef Jeff, thanks for being on. Nice to meet you.

HENDERSON: My pleasure. It was nice meeting you, too.

HOLMES: Thank you so much. Good to see you.

BALDWIN: Happy cooking.

HOLMES: We had people in this building I didn't even know worked here came down to see us, so they could eat some of Chef Jeff's gumbo. But soul food recipes, we're talking about some healthy soul food recipes as well. So it's not all about that stuff that can be fattening or not so good for you.

BALDWIN: Right, he was using turkey sausage and chicken, his granddaddy wouldn't approve of that.

HOLMES: But healthy stories, soul food recipes, all kinds of stuff. All these stories, part of our special, "Reclaiming The Dream" hosted by our Soledad O'Brien, Roland Martin. You can see that again, tonight, 8:00 o'clock Eastern.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Reynolds with the robot.

WOLF: Everybody's got to do -there's always time for the robot. The robot never really goes out of style. It is one of those things that's way back in the cobwebs of your mind, you just have to yank it and bring it back.

BALDWIN: I thought you were that guy who could do the worm.

WOLF: And caterpillar, I can do them both. Not well, but I can do them both.

Hey, you know something else I can do? I can tell you about some great events we have going on.

HOLMES: We have been waiting on this all morning.

BALDWIN: Yes, let's go there. Listen very closely.

WOLF: We'll start off, first and foremost, with the safe stuff, National Scrabble Championship in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton, you love your scrabble, no question.

If you're hungry, head over to Saint Charles, Illinois where they have the Annual International Cake Convention.

And, Maine, good stuff here. Maine Lobster Fest, in Rockland.

And I'm probably going to mispronounce this. Olathe, Kansas, Sweet Corn Festival and then in Clark, South Dakota, you have the Clark Potato Days. If I had a drum roll. If I had the drum roll, I would give you this one, the Testicle Festival in Clinton, Montana. That's right.

HOLMES: What is that about, Reynolds?

BALDWIN: Yes, why don't you give us a debrief?

WOLF: All I can tell you is that if you go to the website, and take a look at it, it says have -have a ball. Basically, is what it says. I'm not lying. That is what is says, officially. I say that in a journalistic way because it is our duty to go check these things out and that's how they -- (CROSS TALK)

BALDWIN: WE don't want to lose your job.

WOLF: That this is very true.

HOLMES: What's the web site?

BALDWIN: You've got it covered.

HOLMES: Can you tell me the web site name? Do you remember it.

BALDWIN: T.J.!

WOLF: I've gone as far as I'm going to. There's a ledge that sometimes you reach.

BALDWIN: You're there. You're leaning over it now.

WOLF: You can look out.

HOLMES: It's actually, Testyfesty.com? That's creative.

WOLF: See, he did it, too.

HOLMES: That's creative.

BALDWIN: We've all been there. We're curious. Never heard of it.

WOLF: It's crazy stuff and perhaps we never will again.

BALDWIN: So?

WOLF: Going from that, we're going to jump from that one, over to Miami. Safety, I think would be a good thing to do. We have a great shot for you out of Miami. If you're waking up and you're eating something that is -well, maybe not what they're serving up in Montana.

Hey, it's going to be a nice day if you don't mind the scattered showers.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HOLMES: Stay here with us, we'll be focusing on health care coming up at the top of the hour. We'll look how are you coverage may change and that all-important question will it cost you more?

BALDWIN: And coming up, I met this great couple this past week in Chicago. You could consider it a very unlikely love story, 14 years, 14 years separated by prison bars for a crime he did not commit. Plans of marriage, kids, on hold. Is there a fairytale ending? Stay here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: How appropriate.

BALDWIN: So appropriate.

HOLMES: Yes, an unlikely love story here. An engagement that has lasted 15 years for a Chicago man who was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. And his fiance here, this is an incredible story.

BALDWIN: It's true. In met them this week. They kept hope alive the entire time, 15 years, through love letters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: (voice over): Dean Cage's question was simple:

DEAN CAGE, EXONERATED: Will you marry me?

BALDWIN: Jewel Mitchell said, yes.

JEWEL MITCHELL, DEAN CAGE'S FIANCE: His smile. He had a really handsome smile.

BALDWIN: That was 15 years ago. To this day there's been no wedding, no I dos, no honeymoon for the Chicago couple. One month after their engagement, Cage was arrested.

CAGE: I seen this young lady, pointing and crying, and next thing I knew, they put handcuffs on me.

BALDWIN: An Illinois jury found Dean Cage guilty of sexual assault, a crime Cage maintains he didn't commit. Jewel never doubted his innocence.

MITCHELL: Oh, never. Never. Absolutely not.

BALDWIN: After spending more than a decade behind bars Dean was exonerated with the help of the Innocence Project, a non-profit group that uses DNA evidence to help prisoners prove their innocence.

ALBA MORALES, INNOCENCE PROJECT: She knew that he didn't do it because she was with him the morning that this crime occurred. To me, it's remarkable that she waited for him for 14 years.

BALDWIN: Still, 14 years of his life gone.

MITCHELL: These are some of the Christmases that Dean missed.

BALDWIN: During that entire time Jewel was willing to wait. She says visits were tough when they had to say good-bye. So, this couple kept hope alive through love letters.

MITCHELL: I picture you there, while I'm sitting here.

CAGE: I pray every day to get out of this hell hole.

MITCHELL: I love you every, Dean. Jewel.

CAGE: I'll always love you.

BALDWIN (On camera): Would you wait for mail?

CAGE: Oh, yeah, most definitely.

BALDWIN: Yes, it kept you going.

MITCHELL: Every time I see the mailman, I just run to the mailbox. Sometimes there would be letters in there, sometimes he didn't get a chance to write.

BALDWIN: So, you had this writing relationship for 14 plus years. Was it funny to finally see one another face to face, and have to talk?

MITCHELL: Yeah. It was scary for me because I hadn't seen him in a long time.

BALDWIN (voice over): These days Jewel and Dean are getting reacquainted, sharing a home on Chicago's South side. As for any wedding plans they are working on finally setting a date.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: We have news in to us that is just pretty much astonishing.

A story that we've been following for literally decades, now, the first American who was shot down, who was lost in the first Gulf war, back in 1991, you'll know the name. His name is Scott Speicher, officially, Captain Michael Scott Speicher, his disappearance has been the stuff of mystery and conjecture and confusion - quite frankly -and conspiracy theories over the years.

But it appears that his remains have been identified now. Again the first American lost in the first Gulf war after some 18 years now, finally his remains appears to have been identified. Our Barbara Starr at the Pentagon has more for us.

Please, Barbara, get us caught up here on what this latest is. Why we think now, this story might finally be able to put to rest and maybe his family can get some peace here. Barbara, go ahead.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, T.J., this is just an extraordinary story. News breaking very early today that the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology has now positively -- positively -- 18 years later, identified the remains of Captain Michael Scott Speicher, shot down in his F-18 over west central Iraq on January 17th, 1991, the First Gulf War, some 18 years ago. They had looked for his remains ever since then.

There had been so many reports. There had been rumors, legends, that he had been alive when his jet impacted the ground, but he might have actually even been held in captivity by Saddam Hussein's regime. We now know that that was not true. Information in early July was given to the U.S. military by an Iraqi citizen who said he knew of two other Iraqi citizens who remembered seeing an American jet hit the desert ground back on that night and that the remains of the pilot were buried in the desert, that he had seen Bedouins burying the remains of an American pilot.

The U.S., of course, had followed up every bit of information that it ever had. So, it's followed up this one, and this led the U.S. marines to the site in Iraq where they searched the area, remains we now know were recovered over several days. In the past week, they were flown to Dover Air Force Base, positively identified by the U.S. military.

The chief of naval operation, Admiral Gary Roughead, yesterday, finally was able to notify the Speicher family that positive identification had been made, you know, the U.S. military always says they leave no one behind on the battlefield. Eighteen years later they kept looking, they got the tip they needed, and now, Scott Speicher is coming home -- T.J.?

HOLMES: Well, Barbara, here -- Barbara, this is, again, astonishing. We've been following this story for so, so long. And again, his status had been changed over the years. Do we know -- or remind us, what was his status up to this point? What had he been listed as: missing, at some point, missing in action, missing captured?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Missing captured.

HOLMES: So, what was the status?

STARR: He had been -- yes, I mean, I have to tell you. He had been through all of these various statuses because they, you know, had kept looking.

And one of the extraordinary things about the Scott Speicher case is: when he was shot down over Iraq 18 years ago, he was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy. Because he was missing and they could not resolve his status, although it may seem odd, he kept getting promoted and now, at the time of his positive identification of him, that young lieutenant commander 18 years ago is coming home a U.S. Navy captain.

That is an extraordinary thing -- because they couldn't resolve his status, they kept hoping, assuming that he possibly could have been alive over these 18 years and refused to take him off the books, if you will. So, he kept getting promoted. Those benefits, that pay, reflected in what went on to his family.

His wife has made a couple of public statements over the years. His family, one I think can assume is just absolutely delighted to see this finally resolved, and so many families are of the missing from Vietnam, from Korea, from World War II.

You know, the U.S. military maintains a huge effort around the world in all the theaters that it has fought in, to always recover the remains of anyone who's missing. They did it in Iraq, continue to do it in Vietnam, they do it across Europe. When they find remains, they try to identify them. They try to bring them home no matter how long it takes -- T.J.?

BALDWIN: Barbara, what do you know about his family? You've covered the story, I'm sure, for years. Did he leave children behind? Where is he from?

STARR: The last place where -- and I'm going say I don't know that it's his official residence, but his family has mainly been, his wife, in Florida. Congressional delegation members down there have been very active in his case -- in trying to continue to push the military not to forget, to keep going and to keep looking for him.

I will tell you, I believe, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has worked with the family there. His wife, who has remarried, keep going and to keep looking for him. And they -- that's something kind of the interesting thing here, that they really did keep doing that. Every time they got a lead -- and many of them were leads, shall we say, of movie-making proportions. They would go and they would look.

And I think it would be interesting for people to know, the way, 18 years later, they were able to make the positive identification of Scott Speicher's remains.

The military tells us that they were able to compare his dental records with a jaw bone recovered at the site. The teeth were a match both visually and with something they call radiographics. You know, they conducted a test.

And so, they were able to make that final identification and let the family know.

HOLMES: And on the line -- for our viewers who are just joining -- we're on the line here with our Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Word we are just getting this morning that the first American who was lost in the First Gulf War back in 1991 has been the subject of so much speculation and mystery, really, over the years. Scott Speicher, the remains have been positively identified by the U.S.

Barbara, another question here I have for you, Josh, before -- excuse me, Barbara, before I head over to another direction. But you talk about the jaw bone there. But after 18 years of him being buried, kind of a morbid detail here maybe, but how much of his remains -- I mean, how much of him was found there in the desert in Iraq?

STARR: Well, I would tell you that -- because I'm sure, I feel quite certain the Navy has given the family all the specific information. We know the family has been notified of all of these details. We are told that there were skeletal remains and bone fragments found at this Bedouin burial site where he was buried by Bedouins when he crashed 18 years ago.

That is often what they fine. That's what they find these days in Vietnam -- and with today's modern technology and forensic, it's enough. They were able to make that critical match of remains using a number of very advanced tests at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. And that gave them enough to go on and they made that positive I.D.

BALDWIN: That's amazing.

HOLMES: Wow.

BALDWIN: It's amazing that these Iraqi citizens, these men saw and remember the jet impacting the desert where the remains were found, as Barbara mentioned, matching the dental records, the jaw bone to identify Speicher. Josh Levs is also following the story for us online. Josh, what do you have for us?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Guys, we've been following this story ever since it took place way back in 1991. I mean, this is really historic, what we're talking about here. And as T.J. said, we're talking of the first day of that first war. That's how long this goes back.

Let's zoom in. I want to back to just a few of the CNN.com stories that go way back. Look at this. Our reporting in 2003 when we thought they might have been clues back then. And obviously, no, it did not lead to a discovery back then. More stories from 2002. It just keeps going back, and farther and farther back.

There's also at least one Facebook page that's been set up for him for a long time and they're saying here, I think, the beginning is really interesting, they start off saying that on January 17th, 1991, America suffered a tremendous loss. And they go on to talk about this man and how he was so beloved by so many people, and on that first day, what a price to pay.

I also do want to show you a little bit of this because a lot of people are going to be curious about what the military is saying exactly today. DefenseLink.mil, I'll post this at Facebook for you. But DefenseLink.mil is where the government, right now, the military is announcing all the details of what they found right here, along with this photo, which -- to a lot of people who were old enough to be following the news back in 1991 when this happened or to be searching for clues throughout the years will know this face very well.

This has been the main photo that not only had we seen in this country. But understand -- there have been times over the years, this exact photo has been distributed throughout the area and in Iraq because people were hoping that perhaps, there might be some clues that could lead to finding him. A lot of people are very familiar with this, and now, it does turnout that inside Iraq there, there are a lot of people who, in fact -- there were some who were familiar with what happened.

Let's zoom in one more time before I show it back to them. I want to show everyone how you can see a little bit more. If you're on Facebook, you can check it out there. If you're on DefenseLink.mil, you'll see some more information right there.

But I also found this as I was searching around -- some statements that had been made by lawmakers over the years, talking about what a hero he is, and also raising his status, as Barbara said there, to that of a captain.

We're going to keep an eye in your responses to this, what you're saying about this, what your thoughts are about this discovery. And obviously, as people start to weigh in on this, we can expect worldwide repercussions as people -- you know, it's tragic what happened -- but there is something of tremendous value in now knowing, finally, after all these years, having answers, (INAUDIBLE) for you. Guys, back to you.

HOLMES: All right. Josh, thank you.

And our Barbara Starr, again, from the Pentagon, is still on the line with us.

Barbara, I appreciate your sticking around here. I have another question for you about -- you talked about this Iraqi citizen, where this information came from. And, again, reminding our viewers, Scott Speicher, the first American lost in the First Gulf War, remains finally, positively identified.

But, Barbara, after all this time, how active was the investigation by the U.S. military, and were they -- did this come about because they were out there actively looking or did some Iraqi just approach them and say hey I got this info?

STARR: Well, I got to tell you, at this point, what the Pentagon is telling us is they were acting on information provided by an Iraqi citizen in early July. And that led the U.S. Marines who were stationed in Al Anbar Province out in western Iraq to go to a location in desert which was believed to be a crash site of Captain Speicher's jet. The Iraqi citizen said that he knew of two Iraqi citizens who recalled an American jet impacting the desert, and the remains of the pilot being buried there by the Bedouins.

So, when you ask, T.J., was how much they followed up -- every time they got a hint, every time they got a report. And, you know, once the Iraq war started in 2003, there had been a lot of hope, actually, with the military that, you know, that would open up Iraq and that they would find him and, of course, over the years during the Iraq war they did not.

But the rumors, as I say, had been sort of mythic movie-making proportions -- and the family is well aware of this. There had been rumors that he had been held in a jail in Iraq, that he -- I mean, the most horrifying thing for the U.S. military, that there had been constant, constant concern that they would find out at some point that Scott Speicher was alive when he hit the ground and at some point this young American Navy pilot had been held as a POW in an Iraqi prison and had died alive in prison. That was the nightmare scenario for the last 18 years.

What they are able to put to rest now is that that did not happen and that may be the most comforting thing to his family. Because the Iraqi citizen who brought the information to the U.S. said he knew of Iraqis who recalled seeing that American jet hit the desert back in 1991 and the remains of the pilot being buried at that time. So, the most comforting thing at this point is the ability to confirm that no American pilot was ever held alive in one of Saddam Hussein's prisons.

That's the thing that the U.S. military, I will tell you, the most pleased to be able to resolve, that no Americans, military person was held by Saddam Hussein.

BALDWIN: It's an important point to make and I also want to, Barbara, keep you on the line and read you.

We have a statement released from the DOD, from the secretary of the Navy. And he writes: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Captain Speicher's family for the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country. I'm also extremely grateful to all of those who have worked so tirelessly over the last 18 years to bring Captain Speicher home."

And, of course, Barbara that mentioned that it's really a nightmare scenario and very unique one, but it opens up the possibility of other -- of other searches and he goes on the say, "Our Navy will never give up looking for a shipmate, regardless of how long or how difficult that search may be. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Captain Speicher and his family for the sacrifice they have made for our nation and the example of strength they have set for all of us."

Barbara, if we still have you...

STARR: Yes.

BALDWIN: ... what do we know of this Iraqi citizen who came forward with this information? Might he possibly receive some sort of honor by any kind of government for this speaking up?

STARR: Well, I don't think we know a lot just yet. But I suspect that there will be a lot of gratitude. I mean think -- this all happened in Iraq's western Al Anbar province.

And you'll recall, of course, for so many years, we have talked about Anbar province out in western Iraq as being the real heartland, the Sunni triangle, the heartland of the insurgency in the worst days of the war. A place where so many U.S. military members tragically lost their lives fighting the war in Iraq, wounded, and now -- now, this is the place where Iraqis have come to the U.S. Marines with this information and have come to them and offered critical intelligence to bring another American home.

So, it's just -- it just seems terribly emblematic, a real symbol of the turn of events in Iraq. I have to tell you, we just don't have a lot of these forward-looking details. We'll also be looking for, obviously, any memorial service, any funerals -- anything where we can bring people more details.

But, this information broke overnight. The actual confirmation that his family had been notified, that the remains were back in the United States, he had been positively identified -- and the military started in the last couple of hours making phone calls to reporters in the early morning hours, putting out a statement, getting the word out that this -- that this had all happened.

So, we'll be looking for all those additional details over the coming hours.

HOLMES: Well, Barbara, we hope you can -- we have to take a quick break here -- hope you stick with us. If you need to go and make some phone calls, you may need to do that, and let us know. But hopefully, you can stick around.

We need to take a quick break. But again, for our viewers, the breaking news we are getting this morning: the first American lost in the First Gulf War back in 1991. There he is. You'll recognize that picture. That is Captain Scott Speicher -- remains finally identified and that first American lost in the First Gulf War has finally come home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Just want to recap our breaking story. It's a story that actually broke 18 years ago.

Captain Scott Speicher, he's the first American who was lost in the First Gulf War, his remains have now been positively identified. His jet went down in Iraq. Some Iraqi citizens remember the jet going down. They made a positive I.D. because of his jaw bone that was found. His remains are now at Dover Air Force Base. His family, of course, is well aware as we're passing this information along to you this early Sunday morning.

Josh Levs has been following this story for us on the Web, getting a little bit of background.

It's a face -- as you said, Josh -- people are familiar with this story 18 years old.

LEVS: Yes. I mean, and there are a lot of people who have been following this story for a long time, and as you, guys, mentioned earlier, there's been a lot of theories, including some conspiracy theories.

What I want to do is show you a few things. First of all, CNN has been covering this for a long time. Also, to give you a sense of what we know about him and his life at that point of that tragic crash.

There's a Web site devoted to Arlington National Cemetery that carries information that I can show you we've actually reported some of these ourselves over the years. And they talked about his family searching for him and what happened to him on that first day of the Persian Gulf War back in '91. And what they say here is that his widow, Joanne, was left to comfort their two young children.

And it also goes on to say and (INAUDIBLE) as well, that she was in turn consoled by his best friend, one of his best friends, who actually later married her. Now, they have children of their own. And they, along with so many other people over the years, have been searching for any clue about what happened to him.

There's a Facebook group -- I'm kind of covering it, I'm going to get out of the way. There's a Facebook group here devoted to him, all about Michael "Scott" Speicher. And you can see it here. If you're on Facebook, you can see what people have been posting over the years and a lot of people saying that it's such a tragedy for the entire country that this man had so much offer, that he was so respected, was doing so many great things.

Let me quickly go back to this. If you're curious to see what the military is saying today, we're giving it to you right here on CNN and CNN.com -- we'll continue to. But you can also go to the military's Web site. It's DefenseLink.mil and they'll get you all sorts of information about him.

Also, over the years, CNN has put together a lot of coverage on the search for Michael "Scott" Speicher. I pulled up some stories from 2003 when we thought there might be some clues that might help in the search for him. This goes back to 2002 when the Navy changed his status and he was raised to being a captain as well. Pentagon is considering classifying him as a POW.

Over the years, one thing that's been complicated about his story is that he was initially listed as having been killed, and then later on, that changed as there were new questions and new theories and new thoughts about what may or may not have happened to him. So, his status actually -- as I'm seeing here -- changed several times over the years, to missing in action and captured and then back to being deceased.

So, now, we do finally -- after all these years we -- have some answers and, obviously, Brooke and T.J., we can hope that this brings some comfort to so many people, including his family there.

Back to you.

HOLMES: All right. Josh, thank you.

BALDWIN: Thanks, Josh.

HOLMES: And, again, to our viewers, many just joining us, finding out what's going on this morning. Again, news just breaking this morning from the U.S. military, giving us official word that, yes, the remains have been identified positively of the first American who was lost in the First Gulf War. He went down. His name was Scott Speicher, a picture of him there, went down in central west Iraq Al Anbar province. A place that is much different today than it was then.

But again, over the years, a lot of speculation and conjecture about exactly what happened to him, remains never have been found. There was even a time where initials, his initials found reportedly in a jail cell there in Iraq. So, now, a lot of people, including the military, at least could be relieved to know for sure that he never spent time as a prisoner of war, never spent time in one of Saddam Hussein's prisons there in the early '90s or during the '90s.

But he actually did go down, did die apparently in that crash of his fighter jet, again in 1991. January 17th of 1991, he went down. The first, believed to have died and then status was changed as you just heard Josh mentioning there, but now, positively identified and he has finally come home.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has been on the line with us this morning. We've been talking to her, getting all the new details and developments. We just left the line with her a few moments ago.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STARR: I feel quite certain the Navy has given the family all the specific information. We know the family has been notified of all of these details. We are told that there were skeletal remains and bone fragments found at this Bedouin burial site where he was buried by Bedouins when he crashed 18 years ago.

That is often what they fine. That's what they find these days in Vietnam -- and with today's modern technology and forensic, it's enough. They were able to make that critical match of remains using a number of very advanced tests at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. And that gave them enough to go on and they made that positive I.D.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Again, 18 years ago, Captain Scott Speicher lost his life in Iraq, his remains, his dental records were discovered and that is how they were able to make a positive identification. The secretary of the Navy reacting, thoughts and prayers are with Captain Scott Speicher's family for the ultimate sacrifice he made for this country.

We will stay on top of this story. I'm sure, throughout the day, we'll be hearing perhaps even from the family of the captain, reacting to the news this morning with his remains finally back home. We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: This morning, we are talking about Captain Scott Speicher. He was the first American who died in the First Gulf War. This all coming from some remains that were found just last month, intelligence from the U.S. military in the Al Anbar area, the province in Iraq, based upon some information from some Iraqis that they have remembered a jet going down in the desert, in the Al Anbar area.

We were talking to Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr on the phone. She's been covering this story off and on for the last 18 years. Take a listen to a piece of that conversation.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STARR: It would be interesting for people to know, the way, 18 years later, they were able to make the positive identification of Scott Speicher's remains.

The military tells us that they were able to compare his dental records with a jaw bone recovered at the site. The teeth were a match both visually and with something they call radiographics. You know, they conducted a test.

And so, they were able to make that final identification and let the family know.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HOLMES: Nothing short of amazing that this was able to happen -- maybe the final chapter in this story. But he has come home.

More on this breaking story, again, at the top of the hour. We'll be back with more live news here and, of course, covering the story of Scott Speicher.

Right now, we're going to hand it off to Dr. Sanjay Gupta and "HOUSE CALL." We'll see you back here shortly.

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