ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt have “shown signs of improvement,” in their recovery from the serious injuries they sustained when their convoy was hit by a roadside explosive in Taji, Iraq on Sunday, according to an update issued by ABC News President David Westin at 10:15 a.m. Monday.
The two are at a medical facility in Germany, where their families and ABC News staff members have met with the doctors caring for them. Woodruff and Vogt could be transferred to the U.S. for continued treatment as soon as Tuesday.
Woodruff and Vogt suffered shrapnel wounds to the head and underwent surgery at the U.S. military hospital in Balad before being transported to the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. Woodruff also sustained wounds to his upper body and broken bones after the improvised explosive device went off. They are in serious but stable condition, with Vogt doing somewhat better than Woodruff, and doctors in Germany will monitor their recovery in the coming days.
“Bob and Doug continue to need our thoughts and prayers,” Westin says. “We have a long way to go. But it appears that we may have also come some distance from yesterday.”
Woodruff, Vogt and their four-man team were standing up in the back hatch of their mechanized vehicle, taping a video log as they traveled with Iraqi security forces at the time of the attack. They were embedded with the 4th Infantry Division.
In an appearance on Good Morning America today, ABC News President David Westin talked about Woodruff’s dedication as a war correspondent. Woodruff, who has co-anchored World News Tonight since December, had been on assignment in Iraq, preparing to broadcast from the country this week, when President Bush will make his State of the Union address.
The experienced war correspondent won a DuPont Award and a Peabody Award for his ABC News overseas reporting following the Sept. 11 attacks and has covered the Iraq war in Baghdad, Najaf, Nassariya and Basra.
"Wherever the story was, he's always been the first to volunteer and go there," Westin says. "He had been to Iraq several times. He was anxious to get back because it had been awhile since he had been there. He wanted to go to Iraq."
According to ABC, officials think the IED was detonated through a hard wire in the ground. The explosion was followed by small-arms fire from three directions. While U.S. troops tended to Woodruff and Vogt, Iraqi security forces spread out looking for the triggerman. Both Woodruff and Vogt were wearing body armor, helmets and ballistic glasses. Within 37 minutes of the blast, they were medevaced to the Green Zone for treatment and later flown by helicopter to Balad, 20 minutes outside of Baghdad.
Journalists have become increasingly more vulnerable to attacks from insurgents as they travel with Iraqi troops to provide thorough coverage of the war. The U.S. has made training Iraq forces to deter insurgent attacks its primary focus of late, and journalists who cover the training have become targets for attack.
Woodruff, 44, and Vogt, 46, took calculated risks in covering the war.
"I have worked with Doug Vogt so many times. He is no hot dog," says ABC News senior White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz. "Bob Woodruff would not take risks that were without his body armor or anything else. They are both very careful.”
ABC Senior Producer Kate Felsen, who had been working with Woodruff for the past two weeks, says she spoke with both Woodruff and Vogt and walked them to the helicopter after the explosion: “[Woodruff] wanted to get out and report the story and not be locked in and taking information from someone else who was reporting it.”