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Rescued American Hostages Return Home

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Now to NPR's Wade Goodwyn. He's at Fort Sam Houston Army post in Texas. That's where the three Americans freed in Colombia were flown yesterday. Today, military doctors and an Army commander held a news conference to talk about how those Americans are doing.

And Wade joins us now. Wade, what can you tell us about the condition of the three men?

WADE GOODWYN: Well, the Army doctors and the commander of U.S. Army South were understandably constrained in what they could tell us about the medical condition of Randy Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves. But what we're hearing is that they're actually in pretty good shape. They were described by the doctors as stress hardy, which I guess, after five and a half years in the jungle, if you're in pretty good shape, you must be pretty stress hardy. But from what we can tell, these men are in remarkable condition given what they've been through.

NORRIS: Well, what else do we know about their background and what they were doing in Colombia?

GOODWYN: Well, you know, the three men lived in Florida. Randy Howes is originally from Chatham, Massachusetts, but he lives in Florida with his wife Mariana and his 10-year-old son, who I guess, was four and a half when Howes last saw him. These men were on a counter-narcotics mission in February of 2003 when their single engine plane went down in rebel territory and they were captured.

And, you know, all three men were living with their families in Florida. Keith Stansell was working with the division of Northrop Grumman. And we heard today that he was reunited, the first to be reunited with his family. He was reunited with his mother and father and his son and daughter.

NORRIS: So one has been reunited. The other two?

GOODWYN: The other two will be reunited today. Marc Gonsalves lives with his wife and daughter and two stepdaughters in Florida. It's been extremely hard on his mother, Rosano Gonsalves and the rest of his family. Rosano Gonsalves, Marc's mother, continue to speak out about her son's kidnapping which put her at odds with her ex-husband and her other son, Michael. And they believed it was best that the family kept quiet.

And, in fact, Michael stopped talking to his mother because he was accusing her of wanting to be famous. It gives you some sense of the stress these families go through and how, you know, it can tear them apart. Hopefully, with Marc home safe and sound and with his guidance, these kinds of family wounds will heal.

NORRIS: Thank you, Wade.

GOODWYN: My pleasure.

NORRIS: That was NPR's Wade Goodwyn speaking to us from Fort Sam Houston Army post in Texas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.
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