Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Kimberly Dozier

Aired May 28, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, she was technically dead. A roadside bomb in Baghdad left her legs and eardrums shattered, her skull pierced by shrapnel, her lower body burned.
How did this war correspondent survive the Memorial Day blast that killed two of her colleagues?

One year and some two dozen operations later, Kimberly Dozier shares her gripping story of life and death, loss and recovery.

That and more next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to this Memorial Day edition of Larry king live.

You're looking at a live shot of the Iwo Jima Memorial in our nation's capital.

At this very time last year, our guest was hanging to life by a thread at a U.S. military facility in Iraq.

She is CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier and she'll be the subject of a very special program tomorrow night on CBS called Flash Point: Kimberly Dozier and The 4th I.D. -- A Story of Bravery, Recovery and Lives Forever Changed.

Kimberly, are you -- were you basically a war correspondent?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CBS NEWS: Pretty much. I'd been in Baghdad for the better part of three years and I'd spent a lot of my time on the ground with U.S. troops. I was worried before every mission, but I always got myself out the door, telling myself it won't happen to me, not today. It won't happen to us...

KING: Why did you want that kind...

DOZIER: On this day it did.

KING: Why did you want that kind of assignment?

DOZIER: I'd been doing it for years. When you cover people who are in those kind of extremes, they're both at their best and they're at their worse. You see people living on the edge and it's some of the most amazing story telling you can do.

That's one of the reasons we were all out there. Also, Paul Douglas, James Brolin, they covered those kinds of stories for years because sometimes, every once in a while, you'd put that piece on the air that would change things, that would show people back in the States or show people in the seats of power that something was going wrong on the ground. That's the kind of story you lived for.

KING: All right, Kimberly, what happened Memorial Day, 2006?

DOZIER: Well, it was going to be a routine patrol, so we thought. It was a chance to go out with the 4th Infantry Division in Baghdad. We had asked to cover a barbecue or something like that, to show what the folks on the ground were doing while folks back home were having a day off. And they told us it's just a normal work day.

So we said, fine, show us what you do when you're working.

And we were out with Captain James Alex Funkhouser. Alex was working with the Iraqi security forces, all part of that "as they stand up, we stand down" strategy that the U.S. military has for the Iraqi forces to take control of their own country.

And we were supposed to stop at a street where the day before there had been an incident. Captain Funkhouser wanted to talk to Iraqis about what they'd seen -- had they seen anything suspicious. And we were going to be out with him for a couple of hours. We got to our first stop and within -- within a couple of minutes, the bomb went off.

KING: Do you know where it came from?

DOZIER: We were all out of our Humvees and we were walking up and down the street looking for people to talk to. Captain Funkhouser spotted a whole bunch of Iraqis. His translator, Sam, was already talking to them. They were at a tea stand at the corner.

So he sort of shot ahead of me. We had been walking side by side. And he got just level with the tea stand. I saw my camera crew, Paul and James, moving into position to get that shot of a soldier in full battle rattle with his gun walking up to these people, hand outstretched to say Salam Walaikem.

That is the instant that I remember the bomb going off.

I didn't know where it came from, but...

KING: What happened -- what happened to the captain?

DOZIER: The captain and his translator were killed instantly. Paul and James were also hit. They must have been 10 to 15 feet from the car bomb.

KING: Did they live...

DOZIER: Someone was watching.

KING: Did they live a while?

DOZIER: James was killed instantly. The soldiers on the ground tried to save Paul, but he died within minutes.

KING: What, Kimberly, do you remember?

DOZIER: Well, I remember being knocked into blackness, and when I finally was able to lift my head, seeing a burning car and the top of my flak jacket. I couldn't see myself and I couldn't see my legs. That's probably a good thing.

I started calling out for someone to pull me away from the car that I could see. I could feel burning on my legs, so I thought the flames from the car that I could see -- that they were causing that. I didn't know the damage had already been done.

Finally, I felt someone pull me away. Both of my ears were shattered. My eardrums were shattered so I -- I couldn't hear much else. And then a soldier came up to me and started working on me.

He said, "Ma'am, I'm going to tie some tourniquets on you. Right now, I'm tying one on your left leg."

And his name was Staff Sergeant Jeremy Coke from the Iowa National Guard. And the Guardsmen happened to be driving by when the bomb blast went off just near them. They screeched to a halt, turned around, rushed into the scene. And if not for them, there would probably be a few of us who didn't make it after that day.

KING: Give us the extent of the injuries.

DOZIER: Well, in my case, I had two shattered femurs, shrapnel to my brain. It took them a while to find that. My femoral artery was nicked and I had burns from my hips down to my ankles.

And next to me was Sergeant Justin Farrar. He was supposed to be next to the Captain Funkhouser, but the captain made him stay back with me. and that is surely the only reason he's with us today. He got his legs peppered by shrapnel. It's -- a wall of shrapnel flew towards us.

There were six soldiers who were injured, two of them as badly as I was. And basically those left standing and the Iowa National Guard patrol that ran in, everyone took a man. Everyone went to someone who was fallen and started working on them.

KING: How much pain were you in?

DOZIER: A lot of pain, but it quickly faded. Shock can be a wonderful thing. I remember -- I remember asking about Paul and James. I remember asking, "Where are my guys?"

I stopped thinking about the pain, stopped thinking about that sort of thing and trying to figure out what happened.

And Staff Sergeant Coke, I heard him talk over top of me to somebody else.

He said, "She's asking about her guys." He later told me that one of the other soldiers pointed first to Paul and then to James. And the staff sergeant realized what had happened and he turned back to me and he said, "They're fine, ma'am. Now just be calm and I'm working on you."

KING: Where were you taken?

DOZIER: Don't remember that part. But I was taken to the Baghdad Casualty Hospital, where the guys from the 10th Combat Support Hospital started working on us. It's just about that time my heart stopped on the operating table, just as Captain David Steinbruner had rushed in and started working on me.

KING: So you -- you were like dead -- almost dead? Dead?

DOZIER: Well, the captain says he doesn't know if my heart really stopped the first time or if there just wasn't enough blood in my system to register a pulse. I had lost nearly all of my blood in the field. And all of us had lost a lot of blood. They actually ran out of blood in the -- in the blood bank for the hospital. So all the soldiers, doctors, anyone who could, anyone who had a free hand stopped and gave blood right there to keep us alive.

KING: When we come back, Kimberly's physical and emotional recovery, how she's made so much progress in a year. And, also, a strange disease that occurs in Iraq from injuries.

All that ahead.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here in the Iraqi capital alone, there have been at least seven bombings, one of them targeting a U.S. military patrol. CBS News had a team embedded with that U.S. Army...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CBS News' Kimberly Dozier was seriously injured in that attack.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dozier and her crew were embedded with American troops that had gotten out of their armored vehicle when a roadside bomb exploded.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A nearby car packed with explosives detonated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two of the three members of that crew that were out there were killed in that attack.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The military brought the 39-year-old veteran war correspondent into Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany. Doctors are cautiously optimistic.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A CNN camera crew happened to be filming in the CASH when Kimberly arrived.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I walked around in the back. And she was as white as a sheet laid out on the bed. I had no idea who she was. Her legs were clearly badly injured and she was -- seemed to be unconscious.

I came up to the bedside, just to see if she could breathe, if she was alive. And she was breathing. And she said to me, through closed eyes with a mask on, "My name is Kim."

I pushed the mask off. She clearly was somewhere else at that time.


KING: That's part of the Flash Point special on CBS. And we're a part of that because that camera work was done by CNN. And Cal Perry, the CNN Baghdad bureau chief, will join us at the bottom of the hour.

Our guest is Kimberly Dozier.

She is the subject of that Flash Point special tomorrow night.

What is this Acetinobacter? A kind of bacteria that occurs only in Iraq?

DOZIER: That is exactly why we nickname it "Iraqi bacter." It's actually pronounced Acinetobacter. And it's one of the injury's side effects that nobody tells you about. You hear these headlines -- two soldiers injured, three soldiers injured and it doesn't quite hit home like the -- the numbers of dead.

What you don't realize is the kind of stuff that they're having to battle once they get back to the hospitals back home. One of them is this bug.

Now, this bug complicates recovery, sometimes causes people to need to get amputations and legs that could otherwise be saved, limbs that could be saved. And it's something that hit my system.

The problem is there's only one drug that's pretty good at treating it, about 90 percent effective. That drug, however, has a pretty nasty side effect. It destroys your kidneys. So after about...


DOZIER: Yes. They do warn you about that one up front. So I tried it. And it worked for about two weeks and then my kidneys started tanking. I had to make a choice between going on dialysis and possibly losing my kidneys to stay on the drug or going off and hoping there at the Bethesda Naval Hospital that my body would fight back and that I could both keep my kidneys and fight off this bacteria.

KING: You have a boyfriend, right?

DOZIER: I sure do.

KING: How is he dealing with all of this?

DOZIER: Well, he is in the security industry. And he also worked in Baghdad before. So he always thought, as he later told me, that one of us would possibly get hit. He just didn't think it would be me. So...

KING: How are you...

DOZIER: ... he wasn't surprised.

KING: How are you doing?

First, physically, how are you doing?

DOZIER: Physically, I'm doing great. I'm about four to six months ahead where doctors say I have any right to be. I am back to running in short bursts and what's helped is knowing that if I want to get back to doing my job in the future, back in the Middle East covering any crisis, I've got to be able to run from danger. That's real motivation.

KING: You want to go back to the Middle East?

DOZIER: I want to go back to the Middle East, absolutely.

A Baghdad foot patrol?

I'll get back to you.

KING: How about emotionally?

How are you doing emotionally?

DOZIER: I am blessed by the fact I had a great support system. I had my family with me throughout most of this process. And the doctors at all of the hospitals along the way say that is key to recovery. If you've got people around you who when you hit those patches of depression, when you wonder, in my case, was I going to walk again? Or how well was I going to walk again?

It was a long journey that was way too slow for me. And I needed a lot of encouragement. To have people around you to give you that is what gets you back on your feet.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Virginia in North Little Rock, Arkansas: "After you were so badly injured, did you wonder why you'd gone to Iraq? Do you think the troops wonder why they're there?"

DOZIER: Well, people ask me if I would have done anything about that day differently. And I have to look at it again and again. Going there that day to cover what the troops or going to Iraq to cover what so many Americans are there trying to accomplish on the ground is right thing to do as a journalist.

Now, Americans might be tired sometimes of the headlines out of Iraq, but the fact of the matter is, the rest of the world is paying attention. And they're judging us by what happens there. So we can't look away and we can't stop covering it.

KING: What's it like to be back at work?

DOZIER: Fantastic. I was out with a team of the shock trauma guys, Trooper 1 from the MediVac helicopters in Baltimore, Maryland. They go into an accident scene, scoop people up and get them back to the surgeons, who put people back together and are actually training some of the combat surgeons how to handle trauma in the field.

And that was fantastic, hopping in and out of the helicopter, and then seeing these people who need their wits and their energy and just sheer endurance to do their job. That was great.

KING: As you know, Bob Woodruff, who suffered severe brain trauma in an explosion in Iraq, was recently on this show.

You, with your trauma, are dealing with might -- what do you call it, extremities?

DOZIER: I am dealing with what's called extremity war injuries. And what I found out in the hospital is about 82 percent of the troops coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan have exactly what I've got -- blast wounds to the arms or legs.

Now, what this means is doctors are fantastic at keeping us alive in the battlefield. Ninety percent of the injured are surviving Iraq. But down the line, so many of us are surviving, we're going on to develop secondary side effects that doctors have rarely seen, much less figured out how to treat.

Now, in my case, in Landstuhl, they thought about amputating my right leg. But they decided to give it 24 to 48 hours and my leg came back. It -- the bruising went away. And the problem is there's no database about how you treat extremities.

When those surgeons left Landstuhl, who treated me, they took that knowledge with them.


DOZIER: So one of the things I've been working on is pushing for some research funding from Congress to make a database, gather up some of this information and make sure that all the surgeons know how to treat the guys and gals who are coming back.

KING: Yes.

It makes sense.

Just ahead, could Kimberly have been the target of the attack that nearly killed her?

We'll see what she thinks.

As we go to break, a look at some of the shrapnel that was removed from her body.

Don't go away.


DOZIER: So in Landstuhl, they first handed me this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kimberly brought back chilling souvenirs from the blast.

DOZIER: This is what was in my head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like a bullet. It's so sharp.

DOZIER: It did limited damage in one area.

This is what did all the damage in my right leg.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This, it seems, could be completely deadly.

This was part of the car bomb?

DOZIER: Yes. This -- this was -- the car itself becomes a projectile. It's bits get blown into anyone around it. That is part of what ripped apart my right leg and nicked my femoral artery and nearly killed me.




DOZIER: I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't see anything. I couldn't hear anything. I do remember somewhere in all of that, I said, "Where are my guys? How are my guys?"


KING: We're back with Kimberly Dozier.

She's the subject of that Flash Point special tomorrow night.

You're seeing some excerpts of it.

Do you feel you were deliberately targeted?

DOZIER: I think we were a target of opportunity. I've spoken to the commanders who in charge of that area. That street was frequently used by Iraqi patrols. A bomb on that street had hit Iraqis the day before. They think we just rolled in and were a horrible grizzly bonus for whoever was watching.

KING: You said ABC's Bob Woodruff, who suffered that brain tumor, as we mentioned earlier, was a source of encouragement for you.


DOZIER: Absolutely. The Woodruffs, Lee and Bob reached out to my family when they were still in Landstuhl and trying to figure out where to send me next. And they said, "She's got a head wound, take her to the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda."

And dad is a former Marine. He didn't need much convincing. So that's where we ended up.

KING: What's it like...

DOZIER: And...

KING: Go ahead.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry.

DOZIER: Sorry.

The thing that was most important for afterwards is talking to Bob when I was in Bethesda. And he gave me some real words of encouragement about don't beat yourself up about being there that day. And he knew that I would be blaming myself about bringing Paul and James into that.

And the words he said always stayed with me. "Those two guys were not followers. You didn't take them anywhere. They chose to go. And if you think of it any other way, you're dishonoring their memory."

KING: What's it like for you when the reporter becomes the story?

DOZIER: Surreal. It was -- I wanted to hide when I found out there that were all those cameras in -- at the air base for my transfer from Landstuhl back to the States. I just -- I -- part of me understood why they were filming and another part of me is why?

Why am I the focus of attention?

I don't even deserve to be here.

KING: With all of the high percentage of bad feelings about this war back home, did that have any effect on you as a journalist there?

DOZIER: The hard part was that covering the U.S. military, the military would automatically assume -- before we walked into a story -- that we had a bias against them -- we, the media; we, the journalists.

And so you would have to get to know the soldiers for a bit. They would have to get to know you before they would start saying, OK, here's what's going on.

The great thing about Captain Funkhouser was he immediately told us, look, it isn't perfect. Here are the problems. But here's how I think I can fix them. So he didn't have the rose colored glasses attitude. He wasn't trying to gloss it over for the camera crew. He was giving us the unvarnished truth, but also what he thought he could do to fix the things that were going wrong.

KING: Do you feel lucky?

DOZIER: Lucky, blessed, very blessed. A lot of people out there were praying for me, everywhere from churches across America to the Western Wall in Jerusalem to Shiite and Sunni mosques in Iraq.

I am very glad to be here and I am reminded every day that I have to make it count.

KING: Would you go back to Iraq?

DOZIER: Eventually, perhaps.

But you have to weigh things like what will that do to my family?

I put them through a horrible year wondering if I was going to live or die, getting that phone call at 5:00 in the morning and rushing to my side in Germany, then wondering if I was going to keep my legs. And then all those weeks and months wondering, will she walk again?

If she walks, will she walk with a limp?

Will her life ever be the same? You've got to consider your loved ones when you're going into a place like that.

KING: We'll take a break and when we come back, we'll be joined by Arwa Damon, CNN correspondent, and Cal Perry, CNN Baghdad bureau chief.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Steinbruner, you're just in time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're just in time. I need (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...




LARRY KING, HOST: There's a shot of the Iwo Jima Memorial at night. I used to live right where that camera position is. I used to live -- just a little personal note. A beautiful night in the nation's capital on this Memorial Day night.

Our guest tonight is Kimberly Dozier, a CBC News correspondent, gravely injured by a car bomb. She'll be the subject of "FLASH POINT: KIMBERLY DOZIER AND THE 4th I.D.: A STORY OF BRAVERY AND RECOVERY AND LIFES FOREVER CHANGED." It airs tomorrow night on CBC, anchored by Katie Couric.

Joining us now from Baghdad is Cal Perry, CNN's Baghdad bureau chief. He was in the trauma unit shooting a combat hospital special for CNN when Kimberly was brought in. And we're trying to contact Arwa Damon who was in another part of Iraq.

What do you remember about that day, Cal?

CAL PERRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I remember it being absolutely horrifying, Larry. We had been shooting for about two weeks at the time when Kimberly came in with six other U.S. soldiers. They came in with absolutely no warning, rushed in by Humvees, incredibly wounded troops. Obviously, Kimberly was extensively wounded. By the grace of God, luckily Dr. Steinbrenner sort of came rushing into the trauma unit and rushed back to the room where she was and began treating her.

At the time when I was filming, I did not realize that it was her. She was obviously in a great deal of pain. They were doing a lot of work on her. And it wasn't until they sort of rolled her on her side that I realized, in fact, that it was her. And it sort of brought rushing memories back of I had seen her the day before. We were both at a luncheon together with General Thurman. And ironically enough, I saw her that morning when I was on the way to the combat hospital. I saw here standing in the Green Zone parking lot, waiting to be picked up by U.S. troops. And I sort of remarked to one of the security guards, there's Kimberly, she must be going out with troops today.

KING: Kimberly, how after all of this did you connect with Cal?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT CRITICALLY WOUNDED IN BAGHDAD: Well, Cal e-mailed me and asked permission to use the footage of me in the hospital. And I remember someone telling me someone had been filming and my first instinct was there's footage, can I see it? Yes, you can use it, but can I see it because I wanted to know what happened that day, especially all the memories that I had lost.

KING: Cal, what was the emotional impact of you shooting all that stuff around death, dying and gravely injured?

PERRY: Well, I'll tell you what, for both Dominic Swan, he was the senior cameraman on the project with me; I think we both felt up until that day we were just starting to sort of emotionally deal with what we were seeing on a daily basis, these U.S. soldiers coming in. But I will tell you that day, when I saw Kimberly, was the most emotionally shaken I've ever been in the three years I've been here in Iraq. I remember leaving the trauma room and calling our foreign desk in Atlanta and immediately calling for a news black-out sort of to stop reporting because I didn't know sort of how Kimberly was going to do, if she was going to make it or where her crew was. And I remember going back into the trauma room and hearing the doctor say, you know, we've lost a pulse.

It was really, I think, for both Dominic and I, it was this in your face shocking realization of this is what can happen to you. This is the reality of how things can go should things go badly on an embed. We all go out on embeds. We believe in the story. We believe we should be here. But it's that in your face, all of a sudden, this is the reality of what can happen.

KING: We have a caller from Toledo, Ohio -- go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Kimberly. I'm so glad that you've recovered so well. My question is aren't you extremely fearful that something like this could happen to you again?

DOZIER: You know I'm more fearful when I see my colleagues in Iraq go out on some of the embeds or anything outside their compounds. And I understand how and why they're doing it, the same way I used to be able to do it in that, you know, when it happened to Bob Woodruff, you said, awful, but it's not going to happen to me. It's the only way you can go out and do your job everyday, a job that needs to be done.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Lisa in Lausanne, Switzerland: "Do you have any say in choosing which troops you get embedded with or where you get to go in Iraq?" Well, you're the bureau chief, Cal, so you're in charge of all of Baghdad. Kimberly, do you have any say?

DOZIER: Well, Cal and I have both will have gone through the frustrations of actually trying to get a chance to go out with U.S. troops and go on mission that, well, doesn't take you too far from your bureau so you're not too far from the satellite dish so you can keep reporting on breaking news of the day. The hard part for the troops is when something happens to someone like me or someone like Bob, then they have restrictions placed on them as to where the press can go with them, how much security they've got to provide us while they're also doing their jobs. It just makes it that much harder to cover the story.

KING: Cal, do you assign people?

PERRY: I do, but it's really up to the individual person. And anyone who's not comfortable doing something, of course, doesn't have to do it. And there's no requirement to come to Iraq. It's a volunteer basis at all networks, I would assume, especially at CNN. And once you're here in the bureau, if you're not comfortable going on an embed, there's no question, you don't have go. It's up to each individual person.

KING: Kimberly, how do you feel this second, live, watching another person, Cal, in Baghdad?

DOZIER: A little with jealous. It was my home for three years and that was a story that I loved and it's still unfolding. I mean it's heartbreaking when you're there but at the same time, it is the most important foreign story going right now. And s I said before, the whole world is watching. To not be there hurts.

KING: We'll be right back with Cal Perry and Kimberly Dozier on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Nancy Reagan, Thursday night. Don't go away.


DOZIER: Coming back to Iraq is like coming home.

It was all the excitement of seeing y'all?

The massive blast ripped through the hotel behind me and also through many houses in the area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we caught up (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the car.

DOZIER: Since the invasion, I spent most of my working life there. That was my family, the CBS Baghdad bureau. I had moved into one of the rooms.



DOZIER: Yours is the first face that I remember waking up to and he brought me out of it. And it was always your voice that I kept hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nancy Miller was the Air Force nurse assigned to Kimberly's case. She took photos which Kimberly is seeing for the first time.

NANCY MILLER, AIR FORCE NURSE: This is Kimberly at her worst in the hospital.


MILLER: This is probably either day one or day two in ICU.


KING: We're back with Kimberly Dozier of CBS and Cal Perry, CNN Baghdad chief in Baghdad.

Another call from, you're not going to believe this, Santa Claus, Indiana -- hello.




KING: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand that you're very resilient and you have a lot of backing but I wonder if you know that the military doesn't acknowledge license professional counselors and this profession was borne out of the military. What would you do if you didn't have such backing? They acknowledge social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists but not professional counselors.

KING: I didn't know that.

DOZIER: No, I didn't know that either. When I was at the National Naval Center in Bethesda, they did provide me somebody to talk to. I called him the Air Force's Dr. Phil, for want of a better way to describe him. And I think he was a psychotherapist. All I know is that he got me talking and I would say who ever gets you talking out there, whether it's somebody with a license or your best friend or the family, that the most important thing for the soldiers, the Marines who've gone through this trauma or any trauma survivor, be it a car crash or a motorcycle accident, when you walk away from something like this, you have to talk it out and you have to talk about it. And I know that helped me come back.

KING: Cal, what was it like on this Memorial Day in Baghdad today? PERRY: It was bit strange, actually. Certainly, the events of last year were fresh in my mind. There was also a huge car bomb today around 2:00 p.m. And it occurred near the bureau of another news organization. I'm not going to say which one because I don't want to give away sort of the location. And my first reaction was to call that bureau and to make sure that everybody over there was OK. But it certainly brought back memories of those wounded and killed a year ago today.

You know irony is something that happens here in Iraq all the time. It's something that we sort of live with. But today was like any other day in Iraq. A huge car bomb killed 21 people. There were multiple shooting incidents. I'm sure, unfortunately, we'll probably hear tomorrow about U.S. troops that were either wounded or killed in the field today.

KING: Arwa Damon, a CNN correspondent who has been covering in Iraq more than four years, with us by phone from Yusfiya.

Am I pronouncing that correct? Arwa, where is Yusfiya in Iraq?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yusfiya is just south of Baghdad in the so-called "Triangle of Death," which was the area where U.S. troops have been searching since about May 12 for now two of their missing soldiers after an ambush that took place.

KING: What was Memorial Day like there today?

DAMON: Larry, it was very somber. It was very dignified. What they did here is actually hold a memorial for those soldiers that had lost their lives in that May 12 ambush. Four of them whose bodies were recovered in the initial attack and then the fifty one was recovered about a few days ago from the Euphrates River.

And the interesting thing is that most of the soldiers here didn't even realize that they were holding this memorial on Memorial Day itself. But it did really provide the troops a rare opportunity to kind of let their emotions go. Oftentimes you see these young soldiers and their senior commanders trying to grit their teeth and put on a tough face for one another. They really do draw their strength from one another. But today for a few moments we did some of them able to let those emotions go before they had to head right back out and keep on going with their mission.

KING: Arwa, Kimberly Dozier is our featured guest tonight and they're going to do a special tomorrow night on CBS concerning her. As a fellow journalist or reporter, is she like a heroine to you? How do you look upon someone who went through what she went through?

DAMON: I think it's absolutely amazing people like Kimberly can go through what they go through and still put forward the strong face that they do put forward. She's able to talk about her experiences and the length she is able to talk about them. We meet many people who have been through severe traumatic incidents and everybody handles it differently, the trauma, the impact that it is on your life. And I do find people like Kimberly are very inspirational, especially as I move forward with my own career being out here. It does get to be very difficult at times and you do end up questioning yourself and you are very aware of your own mortality.

KING: We'll be back with more right after these words. Don't go way away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was the scene videotaped from a distance just moments after the blast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember I turned to my left and I'd seen that one Humvee on fire. And then I turned back to my right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first patient I came up to was a Sareen (ph) and he was laying on his side. And right away, you saw he took a large shrapnel wound to his calf. I ran and immediately I could see Sergeant Fawar (ph) and he had shrapnel to his foot, shrapnel to his sides, shrapnel to his face and the back of his neck. He was just all bloody. And then a little ways from the wall, Kimberly Dozier was laying down. And she had a deformed leg, shrapnel.




DOZIER: Every time American soldiers leave the security of their base, they know there's a good chance someone out there will try to kill them. One U.S. official told me this is the most dangerous place he's worked in the past 20 years. But here there's too much at stake. They simply have to make it work.

U.S. officials believe the attackers were armed militiamen.

U.S. forces are in almost every city in this country.

It is a tough test for the Iraqi people if they take the risk to go to the polls or if stay away and be governed by fear. Kimberly Dozier, CBS News, Baghdad.


KING: She's a terrific journalist, is Kimberly Dozier, and so is Arwa Damon. And Arwa is kind of lost to us. She's fluctuating in and out due to the phone conditions and the location where she is.

Cal Perry, what kind of people work in trauma centers?

PERRY: The finest people imaginable. I got tell you when I was shooting that documentary, everyday, I was absolutely amazed at the work that these men and women do. I mean you would see them doing things in a trauma room that you wouldn't see them doing in surgery back in the U.S. They would open somebody's chest five seconds after he's come back in the door right there in the trauma center. And I think that was really the motivation for shooting the documentary, "COMBAT HOSPITAL."

When you look at the casualty figures in Iraq, we know we're approaching 3,500 dead U.S. troops. But we're also talking about 25,000 U.S. troops that have been wounded.

The battlefield medicine advancements that we've seen in Iraq have saved thousands of lives of soldiers that probably would have died some 10 years ago. I think it's exceptionally important that the American people understand that the work that these men and women are doing are saving people's lives literally on a daily basis. They're keeping these casualty numbers down and Kimberly Dozier is just one example of that.

KING: Kimberly, would you amen that?

DOZIER: Absolutely. One of the things I would say is that you've said some very kind words about me but the real heroes of that day were the guys in the patrol who kept their battle buddies alive, got them to the casualty hospital, and then those surgeons who put us back together, and then all the unsung heroes along the way: the ICU nurses who are our eyes, hands and feet for the next several weeks, the corps men, the people who do everything for you until you hopefully get back on your feet and do it for yourself.

KING: Arwa is back with us on the phone.

Arwa, a current question. The surge wasn't -- we didn't have the surge last Memorial Day. We do have it now. How's it doing?

DAMON: Well, Larry, it really depends on who you're asking. You know I remember back in February when the surge was in its initial stages and you would speak with some Iraqis and they would tell you that they felt hopeful in the beginning because they were seeing the sectarian violence decrease and they were feeling slightly more secure. But that didn't really last for a very long time. And right now, we're still seeing that despair that we have been seeing in the Iraqis over the last four years. And we don't really see it in their day-to-day attitude. Every Iraqi that I know really tries, for the most part, to put on a tough face. But you see it in their eyes, the toll that the war here has taken on them.

And when you speak with the U.S. soldiers, there is not a huge amount of optimism in the sense that they feel that if the surge is going to be successful, they need even more troops. A lot of the soldiers that I've been speaking to recently do definitely want to stay in Iraq to see it done the right way, but they still feel, to a certain degree, that their hands are tied and that they aren't able to accomplish the job in the way that they would want to because they don't have all the tools at hand.

KING: Is it tough, Kimberly, to cover a war that's unpopular?

DOZIER: It's tough because you get hit from all sides. When I covered a school or a clinic opening, critics of the war would say, you're pro-military. When I'd cover an operation that went badly, people in the military or supporters of the military would say, there you go, beating up on them again. You can't win in a situation like that.

KING: Back with more in a moment as we go to break, a Memorial Day tribute to U.S. troops we've lost in Iraq. The faces you're about to see belong to just some of the people who have given their lives just this month. We'll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you guys that are over there right now keep up the good work and come home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much for your service, dedication and your sacrifice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen over there in Iraq and overseas, fighting for your freedom, we appreciate everything you're doing for us and we look forward to you guys coming on home airborne.



KING: That was our King Cam today at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

On Friday's show, we asked you: "Do you think war correspondents should be embedded with troops?" Your votes were split right down the mid, 50 percent in favor and 50 percent opposed.

Tonight's text vote questions is "Should American flags fly at half-staff for troops killed in Iraq?" Text vote from your cell phone to CNNTV. That's 26688, text KINGA for yes, KINGB for no. And we'll reveal the results on tomorrow night's show. And remember you can e- mail questions to our guests at

Kimberly Dozier, are you surprised at that vote?

DOZIER: A little bit, a little bit but we had some of the same debates in our own bureau. The question became why are journalists targets now? We used to stand next to the targets, but now, increasingly, it's as if there's a bonus on our heads for the insurgents or whoever's taking a shot at us. And we had to have this debate. Are we being perceived as being part of the coalition because we're with them in filming them part of the time, or is it just because we're foreign? Is it just because we're a symbol of the enemy for many of these people? Daniel Pearl was not embedded in Pakistan and they took him out.

KING: Yes.

DOZIER: You got to ask yourself, is it the Internet? Now, al Qaeda doesn't need us to do an interview to get face time on the air. They've got other ways to get to their audience.

KING: Arwa, we have only about a total minute left. What do you think of the embedded question?

DAMON: Well, I think it's a very interesting debate and I think, in fact, the military themselves are probably split as to whether or not they want the media with them. In going through with these units, some units are very open to the media and some are not. And some of the soldiers are. And oftentimes we do get criticized by the military, like Kimberly was saying based on the stories that we do. But the realities that exist in Iraq right now is one that if we didn't embed, our hands would be even more tied than they already are. The military right now allows us to move to parts of the country that need -- simply we cannot move to on our own because of the current security crisis that exists here.

KING: Thanks, Arwa.

And Cal, quickly, what are your thoughts?

PERRY: I think we have to be embedded with U.S. troops if for nothing else we need to historically document what's happening in Iraq. I think 30 years from now our kids need to look back and look at what U.S. troops have done here for better or for worse.

KING: Thank you all very much.

And Kimberly, we applaud you, salute you, wish you nothing but great health.

DOZIER: Thank you. And thanks for giving us a chance to show their story, the real heroes of that day.

KING: Kimberly Dozier's special, "KIMBERY DOZIER AND THE 4TH I.D. FLASH POINT" tomorrow night on CBS.