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CNN Larry King Live

Bob Woodruff Details Injuries Suffered in Iraq

Aired March 01, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, at least 18 killed as deadly tornadoes tear across Alabama, at least 15 at a high school destroyed by one of the twisters. The same thousand mile-wide storm system blamed for more deaths in other states. With tornado watches across the southeast, we have got the latest from the scene. And then, the emotional interview we have waited a year to hear, Bob Woodruff, the anchor man nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. It tore off part of his skull and left him in a month-long coma. He woke up not even knowing he had young twin daughters. Those same little girls helped teach him to speak again.
Now Bob Woodruff's live first primetime interview on the day he nearly died in Iraq and with him, his wife Lee, who helped him through his miraculous recovery. It is an unforgettable hour. It is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Before we meet Bob Woodruff and his family and that incredible story, let's get up to date on this horrendous weather picture. On the phone with us is Toni Kaminski. Tony is the public information officer from Enterprise, Alabama, medical center. What is the situation there, Tony?

TONI KAMINSKI, ENTERPRISE MEDICAL CENTER: We're responding to casualties from the storm this afternoon. We have seen a variety of injuries come through. We have had to transfer a couple of patients out that had more serious injuries. We've had a couple of surgeries. We have seen an influx of somewhere between 50 and 60 patients since the storm touched down.

KING: Has there been any estimation of damage? Iazami (ph) Richardson by the way, a spokesperson for the Alabama state emergency management agency.

KAMINSKI: The damage is extensive. It would be unfortunate no matter where the damage was. But the brunt of the storm hit the high school here in town. Our hearts and prayers and thoughts are with all of those that were affected at the high school. It is my understanding that there are still folks that have not yet been accounted for. The hospital is a little less than a quarter mile from the high school. So we feel very fortunate that we suffered only minor damage, that we were able to remain operational and respond to this crisis.

KING: We'll get back to you. On the phone now is Brent Smith. Brent is an 11th grader at Enterprise High School. Where were you and what happened, Brent? BRENT SMITH: I was on a third hall when the tornado hit. It hit like directly on third hall. And me and my friend Dillon Lewis (ph) were there. And he was to my left and he took a lot of the brunt of the damage and all from the debris. And I got trapped underneath a whole bunch of debris on my legs and my right arm. He dug his way out and helped me get out. And we helped a bunch of other people get out of the debris and coach Hart (ph) and a bunch of people that were trapped beneath him and behind him. And then a friend Mitchell Mack (ph), he was there helping out other people.

KING: Were some of -- do you know some of your classmates who were killed?

SMITH: Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, it is Mike, can you hear me OK.

KING: Brent, can you hear me? We lost Brent for a minute. Reynolds Wolf is our CNN weather anchor in Atlanta. What happened?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Larry, basically this is a system we were watching for the last couple of days. This is a system that is well over a thousand miles long, stretching from the twin cities, up in Minnesota, and up there we're dealing with snow. But then the bottom half of the system we're dealing with the intense tornadoes, like what we saw in Enterprise today. It was just a series of a lot of things coming together. We've had moist air in place. We've had strong front moving across the nation with the low level jet stream coming in as well. It was just a combination of all these things giving us this tornado outbreak, Larry.

KING: And where is it going?

WOLF: It is continuing to march its way towards the east and some good news that we have with this system is that it has weakened considerably. We still have one tornado warning farther to the south in Americus, Georgia. However, we've got a secondary line of storms that's forming back across the Georgia border into Alabama. Mainly just strong thunderstorms at this point, but still, there is always the potential you could have a tornado pop off this line of storms.

KING: Jamie McIntyre is CNN senior Pentagon correspondent. He's in Enterprise, Alabama. What are you doing there?

JAMIE McINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, I actually came down here to do a story about helicopter training at nearby Fort Rucker, which has a very close relationship with this community of Enterprise. When the tornado sirens went off and we sought shelter on the base, when we emerged we learned that there had been a devastating tornado hit just five miles down the road here at the high school. And so, of course, we pulled up and headed out here. I got to say that once I saw the damage to this school, I realized that the building that we were taking shelter in on the base was totally inadequate. It would have never withstood the destructive force that hit this school, killing at least 15 people here. It's just been an amazing scene of destruction not just at the school, but for about a mile around, the numbers of houses and buildings and other things have been destroyed. And right now they're still doing house by house searches trying to account for everybody who has, you heard earlier have not been accounted for.

KING: Iazami Richardson (ph), has the worst of it passed you by? Brent Smith is gone as well. Reynolds, is Alabama going to get more?

WOLF: Well, in terms of tornadoes, it seems like the most of the focus of that is going to move into Georgia where their tornado watch in the state of Georgia is going to continue until 5:00 in the morning. However, Alabama is still dealing with this big line that we have that is pretty much on the Alabama-Georgia state line as we speak, stretching from the state capital of Montgomery clean on up to Gassen, Alabama at this point. So in terms of tornadoes Larry, it looks like for the rest of the night, they are in the clear.

KING: Bruce Baughman is with the Alabama emergency state center. What can you tell us, Bruce, from your standpoint?

BRUCE BAUGHMAN, DIR, ALA. STATE EMERGENCY MGMT AGENCY: Yeah, Larry, not much more than what you've heard reported. We've got heavy rescue teams in the area. We've got our state forestry, state National Guard. We have got department of public safety all assisting. The casualty figures that are being reported by the news media appear to be high right now. Hopefully they'll be going lower. We only have about six confirmed right now. We expect that to go a little bit higher. But I'm not sure that the 15 number is accurate right now.

KING: Thank you, all, very much. We'll be staying on top of this throughout the night and the days ahead, as long as this lasts. CNN, I think, has the best weather coverage on television.

Up next, the network anchor, the man who went from reporting on the casualties of the Iraqi war to becoming a casualty himself. He'll be here to talk about how his life changed in an instant. Do not go away.


KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE a return visit for old friend, Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee Woodruff. This is their first live primetime appearance since coming back from this ordeal. And the publication of the new book "In an Instant: Lee and Bob Woodruff, A Family's Journey of Love and Healing." There you see its cover. How are you doing Bob?

BOB WOODRUFF, ABC NEWS: Every day better than the last day, every week better than the last. It's coming back.

KING: Do you feel it getting better?

B. WOODRUFF: I think I do see something -- there are some times where I slip down a little bit. Fatigue is still a major issue. I've got a lot of work that has to be done. But it is getting there.

KING: Lee, how are you doing?

LEE WOODRUFF: Great. I sort of -- for a long time calibrated how I was doing based on how he was doing. And he's just been -- he does, he's improving every week.

KING: Bob was nearly killed in Iraq less than a month after starting as the co-anchor of "ABC World News Tonight," co-anchor, yet he goes away, wasn't behind the desk. Let's look at how the grim news was reported.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have some breaking news to report. Our co-anchor of "World News Tonight," Bob Woodruff and his cameraman Doug Vogt were injured in an attack this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have developments on the condition of ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bob and Doug were quickly evacuated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both have head injuries. They're in the hospital now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All we really know is that both are in serious condition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bob is currently in surgery in Balad.


KING: OK. What happened? Where were you? What happened?

B. WOODRUFF: We were just north of Baghdad, about 12 miles or so. And we were just trying to see what the Iraqis were doing in terms of their military, taking over a lot of the power from the U.S. at that place, to try to see what was happening. The president was going to be speaking two days after that and we wanted to get some more information so we're inside. We actually put ourselves into an Iraqi tank. And as we're going down the road, we came to an area where the trees a lot closer to the road and at that moment, an IED exploded and I don't really remember much after that.

KING: Do you remember hearing it?

B. WOODRUFF: I don't remember hearing it. I remember that I -- I went out for about a minute. I saw my body floating below me and kind of whiteness. I don't have much more information than that, whether it was heaven or something. I still don't know.

KING: You saw your body.

B. WOODRUFF: I saw it down there below me. That's all I know. I was knocked out for that one minute and I woke up again and I was down in a tank. And I saw Doug right across from me.

KING: Your photographer.

B. WOODRUFF: My photographer, my cameraman. He was right there and his - there was blood coming down his -- on his face. I asked him, I said am I alive? I asked also to Vinny, who is my producer. And they said we're still alive.

KING: Were you in pain?

B. WOODRUFF: Yeah, apparently. I don't have a lot of memory about that. But I was definitely telling them I was in pain. I had been -- my shoulder was also completely smashed. So there's lots of blood coming out my back. And a lot of rocks just laid it into my left part of my face.

KING: Did you think you bought it?

B. WOODRUFF: I had no idea at that moment. I assumed I guess at the time that I thought they were going to save my life and that the military guys, the army and Marines and other ones are -- have amazing abilities now to save lives. Did I know that information, not very well at the time, but I thought I would live.

KING: You did? You weren't --

B. WOODRUFF: I didn't think I was dying necessarily. I don't think I was awake enough to really think about it too much. I mean obviously, there was a possibility that we were, but I didn't really know a lot of information about it.

KING: How did you learn about it, Lee?

L. WOODRUFF: I was in Disney World of all places with our four children. And I --

KING: That's the way to --

L. WOODRUFF: Yes, it is. I thought I was getting a wakeup call. In fact it was David Westin, president of ABC News, calling to tell me that Bob was injured and that they believed that he had taken shrapnel to the brain. So that was just a huge juxtaposition.

KING: What did you do immediately?

L. WOODRUFF: Well, I had to first think sort of logically. I hung up and I thought I have to get outside of this house because I have to tell Bob's parents first. And then I have to tell my parents and then they can fan the information out and then I have to tell my children.

KING: Who are how old at this point?

L. WOODRUFF: 14, 12 and the twins were five.

KING: 14 and 12 are going to understand right away. L. WOODRUFF: They did understand.

KING: How about the fives?

L. WOODRUFF: It was a simpler conversation. I was sort of daddy has got some owies and we need to go home right now.

KING: Where do they take you, Bob?

B. WOODRUFF: Right after we got hit, there was a fire fight that broke out at the same area. So they couldn't get us out of the vehicle right away. But then they did -- when the shooting stopped and they took me out of the vehicle into a helicopter, flew down to Baghdad, they checked my condition. They saw how bad it was and they took me to Balad, took me up to Balad, which is about, again, about 10, 12 miles, something like that north of Baghdad. It was there that they took part of my skull off right there.

KING: Took it off?

B. WOODRUFF: Took it off. That was within 37 minutes after this happened which shows you what they're able to do, that they have been doing so many of these --

KING: Why did they have to take it off?

B. WOODRUFF: Because what happens when you get hit really -- on the side like that, which is called a traumatic brain injury, your brain starts to swell. And if you leave the brain, the skull closed around it, then there can be damage terribly. Even possibly you could die. So you've got to get part of that off so that it expands and goes outside of your head.

KING: Do they tell you what they were doing?

B. WOODRUFF: I was dead - I was asleep. I was out for the next -- I got hit on January 29th. That lasted for 10 or 15 minutes maybe, getting transferred into the vehicle. And then I didn't wake up again until March 5th.

KING: You're in a coma.

B. WOODRUFF: In a coma.

KING: You don't get a chance to talk to many people who are in a coma. Do you remember anything about a coma? Do you remember any sleep, dreams?

B. WOODRUFF: Zero. I don't have any nightmares.

L. WOODRUFF: I have a memory, though.

KING: You have a memory of his coma?

L. WOODRUFF: Well, he does -- doesn't remember this at all. But he had gotten a letter from Bruce Springsteen and CDs because Bruce had found out that Bob was a fan. I -- we were playing the CDs all the time. And I brought the letter over to his good side because we pretty much --

KING: He was in a hospital.

L. WOODRUFF: He was in the hospital, in a coma. And I read Bruce's letter, which was very sweet. And then I sort of embellished it a little. I said, Bruce said if you wake up, you can come see a concert or come sit backstage or maybe he'll play for you. And it was about two days after Bob woke up and he really didn't have a lot of words. Nouns were hard. So he said, I need to get one of those, you know -- I said guitar. He said yeah, I got to play with that boss man when he comes. I thought he heard me talking about Bruce Springsteen.

KING: You don't remember any of that?

B. WOODRUFF: No, nothing.

KING: We'll be right back with Bob and Lee Woodruff, the book is "In an Instant." Coming up, what does it take to bring a comatose man to tears and how did Bob and his wife witness it. The story behind it when we come back.


L. WOODRUFF: So I walked in the room and I parted the curtain. And Bob was sitting up in bed and he turned to me and he said, sweetie, where have you been? Just like that. And I think I rushed over to him and, you know, gave him a big kiss and then I thought, OK, where do I begin?




L. WOODRUFF: This is where you were, only you were flat out and your bad side was over there. OK? You made it though.


KING: What do you remember about coming out of the coma?

B. WOODRUFF: I think in the first few days it was very difficult for me, even to this day, to remember much what was happening at that time. But I do remember the very first thing which is when I woke up and my -- I heard that my wife Lee was going to be coming into the hospital room. And when she finally showed up, I turned to her and said, honey, where have you been? That's when she wanted I think to beat me up a little bit. What she had been through.

KING: What caused you to cry seeing the bed?

B. WOODRUFF: I'm sorry.

KING: What caused you to cry there looking at the bed?

B. WOODRUFF: This time there? To go in -- that was in the third floor of the hospital where I had been for all this time.

KING: What hospital?

B. WOODRUFF: Bethesda Naval.

L. WOODRUFF: ICU floor, yeah.

B. WOODRUFF: I was on the third floor for most of those days until, like, three days before I finally woke up. I was moved up to the fifth floor. And so I had never been -- even when I woke up, I never even saw any of the third floor where I was all that time. That's when I finally returned there with Lee and I saw where all the pain was for my family, what I put my family through, my kids, my wife. And it was sad to me to see it.

KING: You look at him now, he looks terrific. But the road to healing was long. Take a look at what he went through.


L. WOODRUFF: We could see him physically getting stronger.




B. WOODRUFF: belt burr...







UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're confusing them. Belt.



B. WOODRUFF: Buckle.


B. WOODRUFF: Buckle, belt buckle. You taught me, belt buckle. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diamond.

B. WOODRUFF: You did it.


B. WOODRUFF: I can't really talk, but I can certainly dance that dance.


L. WOODRUFF: Even at the lowest moments, in my core of my heart, I always believed he would be OK, even when the doctors were telling me something different, I would look at them and say, but you don't know my husband.

KING: You had to learn, like, speak again, right?

B. WOODRUFF: Yeah, in the beginning, I could barely -- you can see a little bit of what it was. That was even later in the first -- in the days in the hospital when I was still there, I couldn't speak hardly at all. Sometimes it really just made no sense.

KING: You told me before we went on there are still words you don't know.

B. WOODRUFF: Still so. What happens, you get left side of your head, in this kind of stuff that I had, it is a lot of language. If you get hit on the right side, you see a lot of other those that are injured, have lost their ability to move their hands and their feet and legs. And they can't really see very well with their vision. It's different which side you're hit on.

KING: We have e-mail from John in Chazy (ph), New York. What impact has this had on your children? How have they handled this near death experience? Lee?

L. WOODRUFF: I think our children are much more empathetic. They were always good kids, but they have become exceptional kids. I know they were terrified. And they had to learn that life can change in an instant and it is really how you respond.

KING: We have an e-mail from Deedee in Seneca, South Carolina. What strategies do you use for coping with any memory deficits you still have? And do you experience any visual problems? As a TBI survivor, I have short-term memory deficit and double vision. Thank you for sharing your story.

B. WOODRUFF: Obviously with the language, the ability to speak again, I see the doctors once or twice times a week. Right now I'm still going to Sinai hospital to try to work with them. They'll give me a word, for example, and I try to think of a synonym or an antonym, an opposite word. So just the more words you go through -- but I think just working, just being interviewed by you is helpful too partly just to keep working getting the language back. In terms of eyes, I can't see up in this side of my eyes. KING: When you look up.

B. WOODRUFF: I can't see. If I look at your nose right there, I can't see your left eye. I can see everything out to the side.

KING: Is that permanent?

B. WOODRUFF: That looks like it is. I tried to work on it. I had a computer that I used to try to stare at the middle and the different dots went around the thing to try to work on it. I got a little bit back. But for most part, it is pretty much --

KING: Have you gotten involved with brain injury now, as a cause?

B. WOODRUFF: We are trying to find some answers to it. It is still relatively new in terms of most people around the country. In the United States, about 1.4 million a year get traumatic brain injury.

KING: From what, falls --

L. WOODRUFF: Concussions in sports, kids falling on the playground, car accidents.

B. WOODRUFF: It is very common. In fact, people get better and some of them have it for the rest of their lives. You're seeing so many in the military situation getting the same thing.

KING: E-mail from Elizabeth, Carlisle, Massachusetts. My question is for Lee. You love your husband, it is obviously deep and steadfast. But come on, don't you guys ever fight?

L. WOODRUFF: I think I know this actually. Elizabeth, read the book. You'll see where I almost leave him. Sure, we fight. Gosh what would a marriage be without that? Yeah.

KING: Do you want to anchor again?

B. WOODRUFF: Yeah, I would like to anchor.

KING: You just made an anchor, right?

B. WOODRUFF: I made it for 27 days.

KING: Why did you go out on a trip? Why did you go to Iraq as an anchor?

B. WOODRUFF: You know what --

KING: You just made anchor.

B. WOODRUFF: That's what I've always loved to do and I wanted to do it. The way that we set this one up too with Elizabeth Vargas and I to anchor "World News Tonight" was a way that we could have somebody safely back in the studio to report in case something changed. Where as the other anchor could go on the road and go to the important stories. And it looked like it was going to work out. And so that moment, for example, Elizabeth was back and now she's going to Washington, DC to cover the president while I was over there. And that combination was working well.

KING: There was another man injured on that fatal day and that was Doug Vogt. And ahead in our second avenue (ph), that second hour rather, that TV cameraman who was with Bob and was seriously injured in the same attack will be with us. Would he and Bob like to go back to Iraq? We'll ask. We'll find out. See if they're nuts. Don't go away.


L. WOODRUFF: How is this happening in your head? What does this feel like inside your head when you get a new word? Do you just pop it out like you just popped out yard and grass? It just came out.

B. WOODRUFF: I think I just suddenly remember it.

L. WOODRFUFF: Yeah, OK. So it's like spontaneous.

B. WOODRUFF: I'll say a word similar to that. Like what I said, instead of saying -- what is it? Dock?


B. WOODRUFF: Instead of deck I say dock. Dirk.





B. WOODRUFF: Soccer net.


B. WOODRUFF: Shin guards.


B. WOODRUFF: Whoa, good. Soccer shoes?


B. WOODRUFF: Soccer bay. Thing. Soccer clothes.

Socks. Spoon. Razor. Shaver. Ball. A screw. Screw. Screwdriver. Screwdriver.


KING: We're back with Bob Woodruff and Lee Woodruff, the book is "In an Instant: a Family's Journey of Love and Healing."

Joining us now in Los Angeles is Doug Vogt, the ABC News cameraman who was injured along with Bob Woodruff. What are your memories of that day, Doug?

DOUG VOGT, ABC NEWS CAMERAMAN INJURED WITH BOB WOODRUFF: My memories were pretty acute. I was hit on top of the tank like Bob was. And I fell back on top of the tank. And after a few seconds of being out, I came awake. I woke up on top of the tank. And I could see the sky, the clear blue sky and hear the shooting and orders and shouts and explosions that were surrounding us because we were being attacked by two or three points.

But I couldn't move a muscle. So I knew what was happening. I knew we were hit by a bomb. I knew it was still dangerous and I wanted to get off the tank. But I couldn't move. And that was a bit concerned up there.

KING: A bit. What kind of injuries did you sustain?

VOGT: I got hit by a piece of rock, I believe, on the side of my head, my left temple here which shattered my skull. And sent bone shards and debris into my brain. One bone shard is still lodged in my brain, it is too deep to remove. It is safely there. It is not bleeding or causing any problems.

And lacerations to the head and the neck and the shrapnel wounds on my left arm and shoulder.

But fairly lucky. Both of us didn't -- we could have got a lot more seriously hurt there. We were lucky at that time.

KING: Have you gone back to work?

VOGT: I've been pursuing other things. I haven't been filming yet in the last year. But I've been pursuing moving into a new direction as a cameraman, into cinematography and television episodic work and ABC documentaries. So I'm still looking at getting back to it soon and will be soon. But I want to get away from war zones.

KING: I bet. That's one of our e-mail questions we'll ask you now from Anna in Cassoday, Kansas. Do you want to return to Iraq to report from there again? Bob?

B. WOODRUFF: Well, I had some arguments with my wife about this, about whether or not ...

KING: Do you want to go?

B. WOODRUFF: Back to Iraq? Parts of me does want to go back to Iraq. I was thinking about going back to...


B. WOODRUFF: Balad where we were worked on over there. You can fly in from Germany into it. But I have had an input from Lee about whether or not I should go. And she's pretty much said no. So I'm going to listen to her right now.

KING: I thought I read where ABC News said absolutely no.

L. WOODRUFF: That's my new excuse.

KING: David Westin said no going there and no going to Afghanistan.

KING: Doug, will you go back?

VOGT: I don't think I will now in the future because I'm trying to move my career in a different direction. I think you can go back to a war zones and do maybe relatively safer things. But like Bob and I always worked there, we didn't stay in the base where it is relatively safe. We always went out on patrols, toured the country with the military or individually. So we always took those more adventurous, much more adventurous risks. Going back in that way for me is, I think, a chapter that is kind of closed.

KING: Did you object, Lee, to what your husband was doing?

L. WOODRUFF: I didn't.

KING: Didn't?

L. WOODRUFF: I did not. I mean I didn't worry and I didn't have stress. But I know Bob and he is the kind of reporter who wants to be where the most important stories happening. And right before Bush's State of the Union, that was the most important story, about the handover.

And I know that he would constrained if I tried to stop him from doing that. He loves it.

B. WOODRUFF: There was one moment where Lee, about a year and a half ago, I wanted to go to Falluja and it was getting more dangerous in the country then. And I said to Lee, I said I want to go over. She actually broke into tears and said she doesn't want me to go. I think that's the only time really in my career in journalism where she said you really shouldn't go there. So obeyed her then.

KING: You would have gone if she said OK?

B. WOODRUFF: Oh, yeah.

KING: Are you medically prepared to go? Could you go?

B. WOODRUFF: Once somebody gets TBI, some kind of damage to your head like this, you're actually more vulnerable if you get hit by another IED or anything near you. So slightly a little bit more dangerous.

KING: Do you have a special bond with Doug?

B. WOODRUFF: Oh, yeah. He's an extremely close friend. His wife is great. KING: But other than that you must have more of a bond? The two of you shared ...

B. WOODRUFF: Having gone this together, you know, have him around at the time when I was in the coma for those 36 days, he was there, spending a lot of time in the hospital for a long time too. And then also with my family once he was able to get out.

KING: After the bombing, Doug, you were awake. How bad did Bob look?

VOGT: Well, I came down inside the tank after about five minutes. Bob was bleeding heavily from the neck. Also from the face. And he was talking and he was making sense. He was kind of cussing how much it hurt. And if he was OK, if he was going to die. He was, of course, in a lot of pain.

And it looked kind of bad. Most of -- the blood is the thing that caught my attention. Everybody's attention, the bleeding from the neck. So we were waiting for the medics to come up, the men who really knew what to do. Vinnie, our producer, tried to put pressure on his neck. And slowed down the bleeding but it looked kind of -- it looked bad, but, you know, the medics are close by in these situations. We always travel with the military beside us or with us in this case.

So we thought it was going to be okay but you didn't really know with these things we have didn't know anything about the skull fractures at that point.

KING: I'm going it take a break and come back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Still ahead, the widow of well known NBC reporter David Bloom and how she helped Lee Woodruff deal with Bob's near death experience. Don't go away. .


B. WOODRUFF: No idea. I couldn't tell you the difference between yesterday and today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. That's that mom was saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened yesterday?

B. WOODRUFF: Two years ago -- two days ago, I just felt like a throw back, all the time, all the time, all day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know Sunday before you woke up, you were really asleep that day.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Joining us now is Melanie Bloom, a frequent guest on this program, the widow of NBC newsman David Bloom who died April 6th, 2003, of a pulmonary embolism caused by deem vein thrombosis called DVT.

By the way, March is DVT month, awareness month. She's a close friend of the Woodruff family. Indeed, Melanie, you met them at a roast of me, right?

MELANIE BLOOM, DAVID BLOOM'S WIDOW: That's right. You brought us together, Larry.

KING: That's right, it was for cystic fibrosis, I think.

BLOOM: It was a roast for maybe the cardiac foundation.

KING: Spina bifida. Judy Woodruff's charity -- Now he remembers.

L. WOODRUFF: Short-term memory.

KING: You hit it off right away.

BLOOM: Instantly.

KING: How badly did you take Dave's loss?

B, WOODRUFF: Devastating. I was 12 miles east of Baghdad on the way in during the invasion. He was about 12 miles to the left -- to the west. And then I got the news, called ABC and they said your wife is trying to get a hold of you. 5:00 in the morning on Sunday. And I called her and found out David had passed away.

KING: Unbelievable.

B. WOODRUFF: It was -- I came back right away.

KING: Melanie, how have you dealt with what has gone on with bob?

BLOOM: Well it was like a nightmare recurring all over again to get an early morning call and finding out that Bob had, you know, been hit. And my heart stopped. I thought this is not happening. This cannot be happening. And ...

KING: You called Lee right away?

BLOOM: Oh, yeah, Lee and I were on the phone within minutes. And I -- as you know, flew with her to Landstuhl and just wanted to be there for her. She was there by my side from the minute we got the call about David. And that's what I wanted to do for her, to be there by her side, hold her hand and try to help her in any way I could.

KING: Did you ever think, Lee, that Bob might be gone?

L. WOODRUFF: Yes, I did. I did. It was touch and go when they first had him in surgery. And then a second nightmare occurred which happens to a lot of the soldiers, sepsis and pneumonia because he was in such a -- his body was in such an embattled state and there say bacteria that soldiers are bringing back from Iraqi soil. The esenito (ph) bacterium. And it is so advanced and so unknown here that they have actually had to pull out antibiotics from World War II to fight it, it is such a tough strain. And Bob had every kind of anti-bottom nick his body and they told me if he did survive, he would probably have organ damage from the strength of them.

KING: Doug, did you think for a time you might not make it?

VOGT: No, I sort of realized on top of this tank that I was fine. I didn't have a chance to look at myself. I couldn't move. But I sort of felt at the spot there that I was going to make it. And I didn't know the extent of my injuries, if they were severe or just superficial. I couldn't move my head to check. But I sort of believe right then that I was going to be fine. And I don't know why.

Sometimes one can be seriously injured and missing a limb and still walk around trying to help people. But I sort of believed I was going to be all right there.

KING: Bob, you didn't know that Melanie was there? Or did you?

B. WOODRUFF: No, I didn't know anybody ...

KING: You were in a coma.

B. WOODRUFF: Nothing like that. Another thing about this trip that they -- their trip over to Germany where they were, they actually were in the -- in the Fisher House which is another private group.

KING: We just did a whole special on them.

B. WOODRUFF: Helping people. Yeah, it's remarkable. They actually were put up. That's where they staid over in Germany. But I didn't see any of them come in.

KING: There was no question, Melanie you would go?

BLOOM: No question at all. I just needed to be there for my dearest friends. They helped me through my tragedy. And I knew that that's where I needed to be and wanted to be.

KING: Was she invaluable to you?

L. WOODRUFF: Amazing. In fact, I think about it now and she said I'm coming and I said, no, you've got -- you've got the girls and you've got no one else. You've got no husband to be with them. You can't come and she said, it is not an option. You were there for me.

KING: We'll be back with more. But first let's check in with Anderson Cooper. He will host AC 360 at the top of the hour. Anderson, what's ahead?

COOPER: Hey, Larry, tonight on 360, the latest on the deadly string of tornadoes in the Southeast. At least 18 people killed in Alabama alone. Fifteen of those victims were at a high school. We'll go there live and talk to one of students who survived. Plus we'll hear from a man who survived an attack by one of America's most notorious serial killers. He has kept quiet for 35 years and now he's telling us his story. Hear what it is like to come face to face with the Zodiac killer.

Also tonight a 360 special, the lion (ph) in the village. We take you inside a U.S. mess hall in Iraq, the moments after it was tacked by suicide bomber, the lives forever changed. That and more at the top of the hour.

KING: Anderson Cooper at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. Just ahead, the positive effects of this negative experience. Bob's brother will be here to talk about how the family has turned his terrible crisis into a way to help others. Don't go away.


B. WOODRUFF: All right, Mack (ph) and Catherine (ph), I understand you're going. I want to tell you that, look, it is not horrible as you probably thought. This is a little bit numb. This is growing back fast. And you can see there is a lot of stuff on my face. But it has become 100,000 better than it was six days ago. It doesn't look terrible. It is not going to scare you, you know? Just be careful. And don't touch this. This is -- doesn't have -- muddle -- I can't tell all the language.

But I'm go to be completely normal and I'm not going to be at school for about eight months. I'm just going hang out with you. I love you guys. See you soon.




DAVE WOODRUFF, BOB WOODRUFF'S BROTHER: I picked up the phone and it was lee. And she said, Dave, I'm here with your brother in the hospital and we had a little bit of a miracle. He's awake. He's talking, he's asking what happened to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think, big Dave?

D. WOODRUFF: It's unbelievable.

And I couldn't believe it.


KING: We're going to spend some moments now with Dave Woodruff, he's Bob's brother. He'll be running the newly established Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury. The Web site is, all one word, Dave, how did you get the news about your brother? D. WOODRUFF: Well, I was -- Larry, actually had been in New York the day before. And had come home to pack to go back. Actually had been in DC, going back to New York. And Lee left me a cell phone message. And I came downstairs and the light was blinking and I didn't think much of it. I was getting a lot of phone calls at the time. And she was on the phone saying we've had this miracle. And I -- the fact he had woken up and it was most thrilling time I had ever seen.

KING: What do you do for a living, Dave?

D. WOODRUFF: I'm actually with Hearst Magazines, I'm the Detroit advertising manager for Hearst.

KING: You went to Germany with Lee?

D. WOODRUFF: I did. I went with Lee and with Melanie and Lee's brother-in-law Shawn McLaughlin (ph) and it was obviously an extremely difficult trip.

KING: Tell us about this family fund for traumatic brain injury.

D. WOODRUFF: Well, you know, Larry, through this entire process of dealing with bob's injury, Lee and I and all of us in the family, my brothers, Jim and Mike, and our wives, we talked about -- there had to be a reason that Bob was recovering as well as he was, that he had survived first of all. And we felt like we had to give back. We experienced some unbelievable things in Landstuhl and in Bethesda, seeing the soldiers. And their families and their loved ones dealing with this tremendously horrifying situation. And we felt like we can help.

And we thought, you know, what we learn as we have been dealing with this in the last few months is there is a great underserved need out there for cognitive rehabilitation for these guys who have suffered TBI in battle. After the acute phase of the recovery.

So we have decided to form the fund. We have partnered with the Brain Injury Association of America, which is a 25-year-old organization, that is an advocacy group and is in McLean, Virginia, and is helping with the overall brain injury issue in the United States. And we're partnering with them to try to raise money and awareness of brain injury.

KING: That is a great concept. Ought to be very proud, Bob.

B. WOODRUFF: Well ...

KING: You've got a good family.

B. WOODRUFF: I've got three brothers and Lee has two sisters and they lived at our hospital with us all when we went through this.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Deborah in Philadelphia. I'm curious to know if Bob's experience in Iraq has impacted his view of the war. Has his opinion about that is going on in Iraq changed after having gone through this ordeal?

B. WOODRUFF: Well, we have learned a lot about this war it significantly different than any other previous war we have got. Not only have we got these better helmets and better body protections, but you've got doctors in medicine that makes people live.

If you look at Vietnam, for example, you had about three to one in terms of those injured and survive versus those who died. Now you've got really at least 16-1. So I think what a lot of the country hasn't really realized that much in this war is you have got a lot of injured soldiers and marines that have come back and have to fight this, or live with this for possibly all of their lives if not some in just a day or two, but their whole life.

KING: Have any of your politics changed or can't you say?

B. WOODRUFF: About the war itself? I think it is almost difficult to tell exactly how it is going to turn out. I don't think anybody suspected the war to be the war to be the way it is right now.

KING: The insurgency has surprised you? Surprised a lot of others.

B. WOODRUFF: I think there was a lot of -- people didn't realize that the Sunnis and the Shiites, for example, would go after each other like they are now.

KING: OK. Dave, thanks a lot. I really appreciate you spending some time with us. Again, the Web site is

D. WOODRUFF: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Dave. Coming up, your thoughts about reporters being embedded with military troops. We'll have the results of our text message poll and our question for tomorrow when we come back.


L. WOODRUFF: Bobby, I'm so glad you're here with us.

B. WOODRUFF: Awesome. Wait, wait. I can't really talk. But I can certainly dance and dance.

L. WOODRUFF: Your nose is cold.



KING: Welcome back. Last night we asked you, should reporters be embedded with military troops in Iraq? Fifty-five percent of you said no. Does that surprise you, Bob?

B. WOODRUFF: About going there as a reporter now?

KING: At 55 percent said should not be embedded. B. WOODRUFF: Should not be embedded at all.

KING: Yeah.

B. WOODRUFF: I think, like I ...

KING: I guess because of danger.

B. WOODRUFF: It is the kind of reporting you're able to get now over in a place like Iraq is very difficult to get. Anything outside of going out with the military because you just walk around the country like we used to be able to walk around, and pretty freely. It is almost impossible now. So even the stories you get are not necessarily reflective what is actually happening over there.

KING: Doug, is there anything about it you miss?

VOGT: About covering wars?

KING: Yeah.

VOGT: Well, I miss the -- being able to capture and document the conflicts that people go through. The civilians. I really miss that. And I miss my friends that I've acquired professionally that we would always bump into each other every few months or every year in the war zones. I miss that a lot.

KING: Melanie, how important -- I guess for both of you and Lee -- is this friends thing?

BLOOM: This friend thing.

KING: Yeah, coming together around -- in times of ...

BLOOM: Absolutely. As Lee was saying earlier that it is the friends you make in life that, you know, you hold dear and you count on in times of crises. And what Lee and I both experienced in our respective communities are that people just poured in love, support, care, help, circled around us and pulled us through. And right at the core were the two of us helping each other.

KING: Did you have any idea, Bob, how much interest there was about you around the world?

B. WOODRUFF: No, I had no idea. When I woke up, I didn't know if I was asleep for a day or a year what it was. I didn't even think about the fact that it was covered. I think after a few days, I start to hear the stories about it. But Lee was very careful about telling me.

L. WOODRUFF: I just remembered this too. He -- the "People" magazine had gotten into the room and it talked about the children's devastation and it showed a picture of Bob when he was coming off the flight from Landstuhl. And Bob's mother read the article to him. And I remember him saying, you know, people know about this? People have heard about this? I thought, oh, man, if you only knew. But you had no awareness of what was going on out there.

B. WOODRUFF: It is kind of sad even today to think about that fact that somebody was -- done stories of me. That's reality, I understand it. But there is so many of these military guys that get hurt.

KING: Were you wondering why you were a story?

B. WOODRUFF: No. I wasn't really wondering. First couple of days I couldn't think about it at all. But I understood why but I was just feeling guilty it was me instead of these soldiers.

KING: Thank you, all very much. Continue getting better and better.

B. WOODRUFF: I'm working on it. Thank you.

KING: The book is "In an Instant." Lee and Bob Woodruff. Great seeing you again, Melanie.

BLOOM: Great to see you.

KING: Thanks so much, Doug, and congratulations, Lee on getting him back.

Tomorrow we'll have Anna Nicole's friends to share their thoughts on Anna and her funeral so our text voting question of the night is, Should Anna Nicole's funeral be open to the public? Text your vote to CNNTV from your cell phone. Text KINGA for yes and KINGB for no.

We will reveal the results on tomorrow night's show with all the latest from the Bahamas and you can always e-mail us by going to

As we turn things over to Anderson Cooper who hosts AC 360, we understand, Anderson, the death toll now, it was overestimated, it has now been reduced to seven in that tragic weather situation in Alabama, right?