It was a welcome Capt. Ben Morales could not resist. He walked into the room and a little boy reached out his arms to him, CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports.
Morales was back to check on the 24 boys he and his soldiers rescued just more than a week ago.
The boys were literally starving to death in a government-run orphanage for special needs children. Those in charge left them naked and tied down, while piles of new clothes and food were stored right down the hallway.
Thanks to these soldiers, and the joint Iraqi-U.S. patrol that first found them, the boys' lives were saved.
"Hey guys?" asks Lt. Jason Smith as he walks up to boys in cribs making noises like them.
When we visited them again today in the safety of a different special needs orphanage nearby, the contrast was stunning.
"Look at 'em," Morales said. "They are all smiling; they're all laughing!"
It's obvious how much better off these boys are at this orphanage. The problem is they are still special needs children with no access to specialized care.
Smith and his wife, Kara, in North Carolina are both special education teachers. Logan asked Smith if one of the boys was in the United States, what kind of care would he get.
"He wouldn't be sitting in this, that's for sure," Smith said of the crib the boys are kept in. "He'd be in a wheelchair most of the time."
But in Iraq, they're understaffed, underpaid and the social workers lack specialized training.
"The problem here is what you said earlier: There is no education, so they're gonna do the same thing everyday — until they aren't here any more," Smith said.
One little boy almost did die. When the soldiers found him, he was covered in thousands of flies, unable to move. They never thought he'd recover as much as he has.
The boys are being fed now. They're safe. They've got somewhere to sleep. But what kind of future do they have?
"This is it, right here," Smith said. "This is their future."
The plight of the boys has outraged Iraqis, with excerpts of aired constantly on local TV for almost two days. The public pressure forced the Labor and Social Affairs Minister to speak out — but instead of taking responsibility, he lashed out at the U.S., calling America Iraq's enemy.
And these are the same soldiers the minister said have no compassion.
"We'll leave here and he'll remember us 'til the day he dies," Smith said. "He'll remember us as the guys that came in here and took him out of the situation he was in and put him in this situation. He'll never be able to tell us thanks. He doesn't need to really."
The fear in Iraq is that there may be other vulnerable children in similar or worse conditions who haven't yet been found.
If you'd like information on helping out the orphans, click here.
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