Joan Rathbun, the mother of the only American servicewoman taken prisoner in the Persian Gulf war, said she was "thrilled, very happy and relieved" to hear her daughter, Army Spec. Melissa Rathbun-Nealy, had been released.
"We're trying to leave this line open," Mrs. Rathbun said in a telephone interview Monday night after learning her 20-year-old daughter was among 10 POWs freed in Baghdad."We're waiting for her call," she added. "We're very happy and relieved and thankful," she said of herself and her husband, Leo.
The tone in her voice was in sharp contrast to that of Jan. 30 when Rathbun-Nealy vanished with another American soldier near Kafhji. Happy voices were in the background and Rathbun urged the reporter to hang up with the admonishment: "We have a call coming in."
Rathbun-Nealy was freed one day after Iraq agreed to comply with U.S.-led coalition conditions for a formal cease-fire.
The Rathbuns, who live in Newaygo, Mich., near Grand Rapids, said they were "overjoyed" when they saw their daughter on television.
During the weekend, Leo Rathbun said he and his wife had their passports ready and were prepared to leave on a moment's notice to be reunited with their daughter.
Rathbun-Nealy told Cable News Network that she was feeling fine.