ABC News' Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt Arrive Back in United States

Jan. 31, 2006 — -- "World News Tonight" co-anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt arrived back in the United States late this afternoon to receive further treatment for the injuries they suffered during a roadside bomb attack in Iraq. Doctors say they continue to respond well to treatment.

A C-17 medical evacuation plane that carried Woodruff and Vogt, as well as wounded soldiers, landed at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C., late this afternoon.

The two were transferred to Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland on the advice of the military. Military doctors strongly recommended they go to Bethesda because the hospital has the most expertise in handling the kinds of injuires they have suffered.

It is not known how long Woodruff and Vogt will remain at Bethesda.

Doctors at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in western Germany, where Woodruff and Vogt were being treated Tuesday morning, said they were surprised at how much the two had improved overnight.

Vogt was said to be awake, alert, and talking.

"I asked him if he was ready to go to Bethesda," said Lt. Col. Dr. Peter Sorini, "and he said he was from Paris and he preferred to go home. So I sort of sense that he had a bit of a sense of humor."

Woodruff has increasingly shown signs of consciousness.

"He started to wake up more -- move his arms and legs and just this morning starts opening his eyes," said Sorini.

The two were taken to the Landstuhl late Sunday night after their convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device early Sunday near Taji, Iraq, about 12 miles north of Baghdad. The two journalists and an Iraqi soldier were wounded in the attack.

Woodruff and Vogt suffered shrapnel wounds and underwent surgery at the U.S. military hospital in Balad. Doctors, colleagues and family members have been encouraged by the progress in their recovery.

Initial reports said the injured Iraqi soldier was "walking wounded," according to the American military. There was no update available on his condition.

Dave Woodruff said he is optimisic about his brother's recovery.

"Having seen him, we think he's going to recover eventually," said Dave Woodruff. "It's gonna be a long road, but he's a strong guy, and he's gonna make it, and he's gonna do well. And I think the care he's gotten has been just world class so far. So with that, we can feel pretty good about him."

Doctors say the immediate treatment Woodruff and Vogt received in Iraq, and the fact that both were wearing body armor, were crucial in their survival. They were wearing body armor, helmets and ballistic glasses. Woodruff and Vogt were taken by medevac to the Green Zone in Baghdad to receive treatment within 37 minutes of the blast. They were then flown by helicopter to Balad, which is about a 20-minute ride from Baghdad, said ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz, who has covered the Pentagon and has extensive experience reporting from Iraq.

Dave Woodruff says he believes his brother will want to get back to journalism as soon as he can.

"We want to see them recover and return to what he loves to do," he said. "Maybe not back to Iraq, but certainly I know he'll want to get back to what he's always wanted to do."

Long Way Still to Go

In a letter to ABC employees, ABC News' President David Westin said: "Both Bob and Doug continue to need our thoughts and prayers. We have a long way to go. But it appears that we may have also come some distance from yesterday."

In addition to head injuries, Woodruff also suffered wounds to his upper body and broken bones.

Woodruff's wife, Lee, has been by her husband's side in Germany. She is accompanied by close friend Melanie Bloom, the widow of David Bloom, an NBC reporter who died from an apparent blood clot while covering the Iraq war in April 2003.

Complex IED Attack

Woodruff, Vogt and their four-man team were in the lead vehicle traveling in a convoy with Iraqi security forces. They were standing up in the back hatch of the vehicle taping a video log of the patrol at the time of the attack.

The ambush of the convoy was complex. The explosion was followed by small arms fire from three different directions. Iraqi security forces spread out looking for the triggermen while U.S. troops tended to Woodruff and Vogt. The convoy was equipped with improvised explosive device jammers, which would interfere with the signals from a remote-controlled device using wireless signals.

"This is very common over there now," Raddatz said on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" of the attack. "These attacks are planned, and this [the small arms fire] is a secondary attack.

"Sometimes when the medical personnel come in, they have small arms fire following up on that," Raddatz added.

Woodruff and Vogt had been embedded with the 4th Infantry Division. Woodruff and his crew were traveling in a U.S. armored Humvee earlier in the day, but then transferred to an Iraqi vehicle -- which was believed to be a much softer target for attacks.

Officials believe the improvised explosive device was detonated through a hard wire in the ground. The attack on the convoy occurred in the same area where a U.S. Apache helicopter was shot down earlier this month.

The U.S. military said it was conducting an investigation into the attack.

In Our Prayers

Along with Elizabeth Vargas, Woodruff, 44, was named co-anchor of "World News Tonight" last month, replacing Peter Jennings, who died of lung cancer last year. Woodruff has been on assignment in Iraq and planned to broadcast from the war-torn country this week for the State of the Union address.

A father of four, he was one of the first Western reporters in Pakistan following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Woodruff's overseas reporting of the fallout from Sept. 11 was part of ABC News' coverage that was awarded the Alfred I. DuPont Award and the George Foster Peabody Award, the two highest honors in broadcast journalism.

Woodruff has also covered the Iraq conflict in Baghdad, Najaf, Nassariya and Basra. During the initial invasion, Woodruff reported from the front lines as an embedded journalist with the First Marine Division, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

Vogt, a 46-year-old father of three girls, has been with ABC News for more than 15 years and has extensive experience in war-torn regions. He was sitting next to ABC News producer David Kaplan when the producer was shot and killed in Bosnia. Earlier this month, he was with Woodruff in Iran and was recently in another convoy in which someone was killed by an IED.

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