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AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Two Squadrons That Served Aboard USS Roosevelt Coming Home

Aired March 26, 2002 - 08:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We turn to the troops serving in Operation Enduring Freedom. For them, it's a marathon, not a sprint, according to U.S. General Tommy Franks, who warned the war will continue for a long, long time. Within the hour, after thousands of sorties and a record time at sea, two squadrons which served aboard the carrier USS Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea are coming home for some very well deserved rest.

CNN's Bob Franken is at the Naval station in Norfolk, Virginia, and he joins us now.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Anderson.

And what you're seeing is what we could call an "ah" picture, as in "ah." This is the family of Lieutenant Commander Ken Rasmussen. This is Karen Rasmussen, wife of.

This is Morgan Rasmussen, who is doing a number on my business card here. She is just about a year old, hasn't seen her father of course since he left on September 19th.

And these two little monsters are Jeremy and Austin. They're going to all be greeting their father when he arrives hopefully within the next couple of hours. We have a little weather situation. He is the man who works in the back of one of those planes, one of those Hawkeye planes, which is a surveillance plane, but let's not talk about that now. Let's talk about this homecoming, and let's talk about the last time Morgan saw her husband and the last time he saw her.

KAREN RASMUSSEN, WIFE OF NAVAL FLIGHT OFFICER: Morgan was not even sitting up yet. If you put her up she'd fall down. And now she walks about seven or eight steps at a time. Hopefully, we'll get her to walk to dad today, so he can see how she's grown.

FRANKEN: It's fair to point out, by the way, this is a little bit of a flirt here.

RASMUSSEN: Yes.

FRANKEN: Look at that.

RASMUSSEN: Yes, she is.

FRANKEN: What do you think this is going to be like?

RASMUSSEN: Well, it could go two ways. It could be she'll flirt with him and she'll go right straight to him, or it could be that she'll cling to me and not even want to look at him, and we really won't know until that moment comes. And I have to be prepared for either way, either to give her up or hold on to her and let her get adjusted to him.

FRANKEN: We've been talking, and I know you thought about this a lot.

RASMUSSEN: I have, I have really have. Because for him, it's going be what he remembers. For her, it won't register at all. But for him, it's going to be how he bonds with her again.

FRANKEN: Well, of course, you do have these two guys here, who are having a little trouble standing still here.

You excited about this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

FRANKEN: What are you going to say to your dad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.

FRANKEN: Just when it comes, you're going do it, right?

And how about you, Austin?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.

FRANKEN: You don't know either? OK, well, let's show them your face here. I want them to see what you're wearing. What is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A screwtop.

FRANKEN: It's a screwtop.

And the reason for that is that because the squadron that flies these Hawkeyes for obvious reasons, is called the screwtops, and he's the number three screwtop, right?

RASMUSSEN: He's one of four department heads in the squadron and then there's the CO and the XO who are Above them.

FRANKEN: You know, so many people have talked about the sacrifices families make. And here you are with three little ones that would wear you out every day, but this has got to be tough.

RASMUSSEN: It is tough, but we choose to do it. This is something we've chosen as a family to do. It's important for us, and we just take it one step at a time, one day at a time.

FRANKEN: So, Anderson, this is almost a cliche, but I'm going to use it anyway, we hear so much about the policy reasons for war and all of that, of course it's mainly a human story -- Anderson.

COOPER: It is. Thanks, Bob Franken, for bringing that human story to us this morning. It was great meeting those people.

We'll be checking back with you in our next and hope to hear from some more families.

Thanks again.

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