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Former POW Recounts Emotional Agony of Captivity

March 17, 1991

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The emotional uncertainty of not knowing if he would live or die, or if his family even knew he was alive, was the hardest part of being a prisoner of the Gulf War, says Marine Capt. Craig Berryman.

″The beatings weren’t the worst because you learn to deal with that,″ Berryman was quoted in Sunday’s editions of the Tulsa World. ″I think the isolation and not knowing what your family knew of your situation was probably the most difficult for me.″

Berryman, who is from Yuma, Ariz., but whose family lives in Cleveland, Okla., was captured by the Iraqis after his Harrier jet was shot down Jan. 28 on a bombing run near Kuwait City.

Released March 5, he is hospitalized at the U.S. Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., with a neck injury he says he may have suffered ejecting from his crippled aircraft.

While a prisoner, Berryman said he faced beatings every two to three days. ″Many times,″ he said, he thought he was going to die.

But he was reluctant to discuss in detail the beatings and other forms of abuse he said he suffered. He said he fears for the safety of soldiers reported missing in action who may be held by the Iraqis.

″I really can’t elaborate,″ he said. ″We are all concerned about the MIAs that are still in Iraq.″

While he was a prisoner, Berryman’s family never knew if he was dead or alive. Relatives had no word until the day he was released.

″Of course, I had been hearing the down part of everything, that it didn’t look good statistically,″ his mother, Esther Berryman, said Saturday. ″It really didn’t look like he made it out of the airplane.″