An American pilot recently released by the Iraqis said he believes the family photographs he carried in his wallet saved his life.

Air Force Maj. Jeffrey Tice, 35, of Sellersville, Pa., was captured in January after his plane was shot down 15,000 feet over Iraq. Tice said he was tied up by Bedouins about two minutes after he landed on the ground.A shared pride in family that crosses international boundaries saved his life, Tice said Friday from Andrews Air Force Base on the television show "Larry King Live."

"I believe it had to do with my family photographs that they found in my wallet," he said. The Bedouins saw pictures of his wife, Cindy, and their children.

"Because I was a family man they may not have killed me that night," he said. "The chief looked at the photographs and he gently kissed the pictures of my wife and children and laid them back up on my leg and then had the guys untie me.

"And I gently picked them up and put them in my pocket, and just because I'm right-handed I automatically put them in the pocket next to my heart, and I think that touched them in a way that they didn't kill me," he said.

He said he was tortured later, and that torture was increased when he refused to participate in a videotaped interview denouncing the war. He eventually appeared in such a videotape.