U.S. Ready to Hand Over Libya Lead, But Who Will Take It?


The pilot, now separated from his partner, held a GPS beacon and a pistol, radioing for help as he saw villagers approach.

Just after 1:30 a.m., U.S. jets arrived and dropped two 500-pound bombs to push back the unidentified group that was approaching the pilot. The force of the blast and shrapnel injured numerous civilians.

Less than an hour later, two MV-22 Ospreys reached the stranded fighter pilot and rescued him.

Meanwhile in an nearby field, the other ejected crew member, a weapon systems officer, landed. Though he'd injured his ankle in the incident, he was able to hide at the el-Amruni family farm.

It turned out that one of the family members, Hamid Moussa el-Amruni, was hit in the bombing run. He, along with others, were thought to be Ghadafi forces, according to Hamid's cousin Saad.

Amazingly, Hamid is not holding a grudge.

"They bombed us. It was to protect their pilots to push back the Gadhafi mercenaries," Moussa el-Amruni said.

"It was a misunderstanding. We forgive them of this and we thank the coalition forces and America and France."

Soon, he said, the situation was cleared up. The crewmember was given food and juice and sent to Benghazi, where he was handed over to American forces.

According to U.S. officials, a major stroke of luck led to the weapons officer's rescue, as it was thanks to the help of a Libyan citizen who was once associated with the US Embassy in Tripoli.

The Libyan national, who had received a grant from the US Embassy in Tripoli, used personal knowledge of the State Department to phone its operations center to notify them about the missing airman's whereabouts.

Meanwhile, the crash site is in the middle of a field, 500 yards from the road in the small village of Ghot Sultan has become a place of awe and amazement for local residents.

So many people trampled through the field today to see the wreckage of the F-15 that there is now a dirt road.

Parents brought their kids to see this hulking piece of American war machinery. Its wings and tailfins almost the only recognizable part, with the rest burned almost beyond recognition.

A local man told ABC news about the confusion and alarm as the plane crashed to the ground.

"At first we were scared, we thought it was a Gadhafi plane that would strike us," the man said. "Then we saw the plane was on fire, spinning around and realized it was not a Libyan plane."

ABC News' Huma Khan and Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.

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