RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany, AP -Smiling broadly, journalist Jill Carroll arrived in Germany on Saturday, the first stop on her way home to the United States from Iraq where she was kidnapped and spent 82 days in captivity.
A military transport plane brought Carroll from Balad Air Base near Baghdad to Ramstein Air Base in western Germany. She was whisked away to a hotel at the air base, officials at Ramstein said. They said she was expected to leave for Boston later Saturday on a flight out of Frankfurt.
Carroll was riding in the cockpit as the U.S. Air Force C17 Globemaster came to a stop. She cast a bemused look at the line of television cameras waiting on the tarmac. She got off the plane smiling and wearing jeans, a gray sweater, and a desert camouflage jacket.
Col. Kurt Lohide, commander of the 435th Air Base Wing, greeted her briefly before escorting her into an Air Force van.
“Welcome to Ramstein,” he said he told her.
“I’m happy to be here,” was her answer.
The plane was a regularly scheduled flight from Balad carrying wounded military personnel.
Carroll, a 28-year-old freelancer for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, was seized Jan. 7 in western Baghdad by gunmen who killed her Iraqi translator.
She was dropped off Thursday at an office of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab organization, and later escorted by the U.S. military to the Green Zone, the fortified compound in Baghdad protecting the U.S. embassy and other facilities.
It wasn’t clear why the kidnappers, who called themselves the Revenge Brigades, released Carroll. They had demanded the release of all female detainees in Iraq by Feb. 26, and said Carroll would be killed if that wasn’t done.
U.S. officials did release some female detainees at the time, but said it had nothing to do with the kidnappers’ demands. On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the United States is still holding four women.