Former hostages who returned home from Iraq Tuesday with retired boxing champ Muhammad Ali said their happiness was tempered with concern for those left behind.
"I just wanted to make sure that everybody here realizes that there are hundreds more Americans and thousands in total of foreigners still there," Harry Brill-Edwards, 49, of Fort Lee, N.J., told reporters after arriving at Kennedy Airport."Every one of us who is on this plane tonight is only happy to a certain degree. The rest of his heart is sad for the guys who are still there."
The State Department says about 1,000 Americans are trapped in Iraq and Kuwait, and it believes 88 are being used as "human shields" at strategic sites. Iraq released 15 Americans to Ali, including 10 with medical conditions.
A few hours after the hostages' arrival, a group of Americans boarded the same plane back to Amman, Jordan, in hopes of reunions Wednesday in Baghdad with relatives they are trying to bring home.
Brill-Edwards, chairman of Chromolloy Corp. in Orangeburg, N.Y., was one of six Americans who accompanied Ali directly from Jordan. The nine others were returning via the Netherlands.
Only Brill-Edwards had family waiting in New York: wife Heidi, sons Christopher, 14, and Philip, 9, and daughter Alexandra, 16, who gave Ali a hug and kiss.
Former hostage Sergio Coletta of Moss Point, Miss., was greeted by three colleagues from the American Bureau of Shipping, his employer, and when he saw them waiting, he ran into their arms.
Royce "Red" Smart, a drilling consultant from Houston, said his "heart hurts" for those left behind.
Richard Iliff, a General Motors executive from Atlanta, said he was "choked up" about the close friends he had made in more than 100 days of captivity. "They're stuck. I don't know how they're going to get out."