May 15, 2007
Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi forces, backed by air support and dog teams, combed dense brush in the insurgent stronghold known as the Triangle of Death.
"What the families must know is that we are using every asset and resource available to the U.S. and allies in these efforts. We are doing everything we can to locate our soldiers," said William Caldwell of the Multinational Force in Iraq.
That is a determination shared among comrades of the missing soldiers.
"It's horrible to think about what they're going through right now. I pray we can figure out where they're at and get 'em back," said Chip Daniels, U.S. Army.
The U.S. military says highly credible intelligence points to Al Qaeda or an affiliated group as possible abductors. A web posting from the Al Qaeda-backed "Islamic state of Iraq" warned the searchers to back off and includes this taunt.
"We know you would rather have your entire army die than have one crusader in captivity."
The soldiers went missing after their convoy was ambushed last Saturday. The three missing and four dead are from Fort Drum, New York.
Family members identified two of the soldiers killed, one of them Private First Class Daniel Courneya, age 19. His mother learned from her daughter-in-law that her son died in the ambush.
"I just started screaming. I was begging her to tell me it was a joke, some sick mother's day prank. And it wasn't," said Courneya's mother Wendy Thompson.
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