POW Ronald Young Jr. and Six Others Rescued in Iraq
by Sylvia Finlayson
It was a Sunday morning of special thanks at the Georgia home of Chief Warrant Office Ronald Young Jr. where his parents had been notified by about 10:30 EST of his rescue in Iraq. In fact, they made a definite identification of him from a video shown on CNN hours prior to the official notification. “I’m ecstatic,” Ronald Young Sr. said. “It’s him! It’s definitely him.”
Seven POWs were rescued near the town of Samarra when they were tipped off by an Iraqi who said that they would shortly “come in contact with a number of Americans,” General Tommy Franks told Fox News. The POWs were met along a road to Tikrit accompanied by Iraqi troops who had been abandoned by their officers.
The released soldiers are: Pfc. Patrick Miller, 23, of Park City, Kan.; Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23, of Alamogordo, N.M.; Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 30, Fort Bliss, Texas; Sgt. James Riley, 31, of New Jersey; Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams, 30, of Florida; Army Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr., 26, of Lithia Spring, Ga.; and U.S. Army Spc. Edgar Hernandez, 21, of Mission, Texas.
The Americans were brought to an airfield about 50 miles south of Baghdad in an ambulance. Two of the Americans had gunshot wounds and appeared to have more serious injuries, but the other five were strong enough to run to the C-130 transport plane headed for Kuwait city.
Chief Warrant Office Ronald Young Jr.’s Apache Longbow helicopter went down in fierce fighting over Karbala 50 miles southwest of Baghdad. Two attempts were made to rescue the pilots, but the fire was so heavy-“like a hornet’s nest” that they were unable to get them. The downed pilots eluded capture for several hours, but were finally caught by jubilant Iraqis.
News sources said junior Iraqi guards took the captured U.S. troops to a light U.S. Marine armored unit north of Samarra, about 25 miles south of Tikrit — Saddam Hussein’s family home and the last key Iraqi city that is not under coalition control.
Ward member and friend, Carla Toole, was helping to answer the phone at the home of Ronnie and Kaye Young after the news seemed to take flight, and what seemed like the ‘whole world’ began to call. “We are so proud and so happy today,” said Toole. “Our faith kept us on a high and when we heard that the Prophet had prayed directly for Ronald Jr., we all knew he would come home to us.”
The family received tremendous support from members in their ward, as well as from across the world. Seminary classes sent letters of support and even temple workers from Vernal, Utah sent their encouragement through signed cards. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sent a copy of their most recent CD, “Consider the Lilies”, to the Young family.
Kaye and Ronnie Young had just spoken with their son, who would be taken to the Cutter military base in Saudi Arabia and from there would be flown the Walter Reed Army Medical Facility in Washington, D.C. They figured he would be home by Wednesday. He seemed to be in high spirits and assured them he was in very good physical condition.
The Young’s stake president was one of the many to call on this momentous occasion. He was asking Brother and Sister Young to attend the Stake Leadership meeting that evening to share their testimonies. They still had very few details about their son’s ordeal, but they had spoken with Ronald Jr. and he was okay; their prayers for their son had been answered and their faith had been renewed. Yes, they would speak that evening and continue to pray for the safe return of all the young men and women serving their country in Iraq.
The United States lists five other soldiers as missing and seven as prisoners of war.
2003 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.