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Sunday, April 27

Former POW returns home to south New Jersey

By The (Cherry Hill, N.J.) Courier-Post

PENNSAUKEN, N.J. - Sgt. James Riley is home.

The 31-year-old former prisoner of war returned to his parents' Marion Avenue house here shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday, five weeks after he was captured during an ambush of his Army supply convoy in Iraq.

``It's just good to have him home,'' said his mother, Jane Riley.

She greeted Sgt. Riley in Texas when he arrived in the United States more than a week ago. But Sunday was the first time in about nine months that his sister, Katherine, and father, Athol, have seen him. The family spent Sunday night talking, Jane Riley said.

Joe McCollum, a next-door neighbor, decorated the Rileys' front yard with balloons and welcome sign in anticipation of the sergeant's arrival.

``He seems good,'' McCollum said. ``He's really glad to be home.''

Riley has declined to give any interviews.

The Army mechanic and five other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were captured during the March 23 attack near Nasiriyah, in which nine soldiers from their unit were killed. The incident occurred on the deadliest day for U.S. troops during the war with Iraq. Riley and six other POWs were freed April 13. He returned to his home base - Fort Bliss, Texas - six days later, where he was greeted by a cheering crowd and a hug from his mother.

He underwent three days of extensive medical tests last week before the Army gave him clearance to begin 30 days of convalescent leave.

Pennsauken has scheduled a May 4 parade in his honor, which Riley plans to attend.