Coast Reacts To The Release Of 24 American Crewmen From China

While Michael Hilliard watched his daughter play at an Ocean Springs park, China finally agreed to release the 24 American crewmen detained since April first. "I was really glad that they were finally going to let them go," Hilliard said. "It was kind of crazy to hold them for so long in the first place anyway."

The crew of the downed U.S. spy plane sat in China for 11 days, until America apologized for the plane's unauthorized landing in that country. While eating lunch at an Ocean Springs restaurant, Gloria Covert felt the apology was unnecessary. "I'm glad they're coming home," Covert said. "But I don't think we had anything to apologize for."

David Barnes and his wife both kept a watchful eye on the China saga. While he waited for his meal, Barnes said, "It's been a troubling situation not knowing what is going to happen next, kind of a tense situation."

President George W. Bush finally defused the 11 day standoff by telling the Chinese he was "very sorry the entering of China's airspace and the landing did not have verbal clearance." How the president handled his first international crisis got mixed reviews from coast residents.

Michael Hilliard and David Barnes both said Bush seemed to handle it fairly well. Jean Leonard was a bit more skeptical about Bush's performance during this standoff with the Chinese government. "I don't know," she said, "probably not that well. It seems like it has taken a long time to get resolved. It shouldn't be that hard to say they're sorry."

Now that sorry has been said, 24 Americans are about to go home.

by Brad Kessie