Families of POWs stunned by news of Iraqi detention

Associated Press

DERBY, Kan. - The half brother of a Kansas soldier held captive in Iraq said he wants the United States to finish the war "as fast as possible" so his brother can come home.

The family of Pfc. Patrick Miller, 23, said he was one of five American prisoners of war seen Sunday answering questions on Iraqi television. There also was footage of at least four bodies in uniform.

The soldier's half brother, Thomas Hershberger, 27, said his mother spoke to Miller's wife Sunday. She had received confirmation from the military that Miller was being held by the Iraqis, he said.

"She is not doing the best right now," he said of his mother, who lives in New Mexico. "I haven't had a conversation with her without her crying."

Also Sunday, the mother of another captured soldier offered a plea to President Bush. "Please do something for my son," Anecita Hudson said of Army Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23, of Alamogordo, N.M.

Members of another family told NBC's Today show yesterday that the only woman among the captives seen on Iraqi video was their relative, Army Spc. Shoshawna Johnson. They said she was the daughter of a military man and grew up near Fort Bliss, Texas.

"I can't imagine what she's going through," said a cousin, Tracy Thorn. "I can't begin to imagine what she's feeling. She looks scared."

Thorn said she heard the news from her mother Sunday, adding, "You know, hundreds of thousands of soldiers are out there. You never think that one of your family members would be one of those to be taken captive."

Jean Offutt, a spokeswoman for Fort Bliss, said 10 or more of those who were missing Sunday were with the 507th Maintenance Company, which deployed last month with the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. The 507th is not considered a combat unit, officials said.

Two of the hostages were identified by the El Paso Times as Edgar Hernandez of Mission, Texas, and Sgt. James Riley of New Jersey.

One of those missing is Jessica Lynch, 19, a supply clerk with the 507th, said her father, Greg Lynch of Palestine, W.Va. "The only thing they can tell us is she's missing," said Lynch, who said he was notified late Sunday by an Army official accompanied by the state police.

The video footage aired on Iraqi television showed Miller answering questions in a shaky voice, his eyes darting back and forth between an interviewer and another person off camera.

Asked why he came to Iraq, he replied, "I come to fix broke stuff."

Asked if he came to shoot Iraqis, he answered, "No, I come to shoot only if I am shot at. They don't bother me, I don't bother them."

Miller, who is from the Wichita area, and his family had been living in Texas, but his wife, Jessa, and their two children moved back to Park City, Kan., to live with her mother when Miller was deployed in December.

Hershberger said Miller has a 4-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter. Miller was a welder before joining the military last summer to help pay student loans, he said.

Hershberger said his mother was not happy when Miller was deployed overseas, but Miller did not seem overly concerned.

"He is kind of cocky - he didn't act scared at all," Hershberger said.

Hershberger said he did not know how his brother felt about going to Iraq, adding that he didn't know himself whether the United States should have gone to war.

"I feel action should be taken for terrorists, but I think the U.S. government only has itself to blame for terrorists feeling the way they do," he said. The United States "puts themselves in other people's business that they shouldn't have been in."

Hudson's mother said her son identified himself on the video but didn't give any more information. She said he appeared to be uninjured, unlike some of the others in the video.

"It's like a bad dream, seeing your son get captured on TV," she said. Mrs. Hudson, who is of Filipino ancestry, said she saw the footage on a Filipino station she subscribes to.

She said her son joined the Army to have a good future, not to fight. He is a mechanic who specializes in fixing trucks, she said.

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