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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

600 Soldiers Come Home to Ft. Stewart, Georgia

Aired July 6, 2003 - 09:01   ET

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

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hundreds of U.S. troops are coming home. About 600 soldiers returned to Georgia's Fort Stewart last night in that base's largest homecoming since deployment began. The scene is playing out at military installations around the country. But the stories are as unique as the people now celebrating them. We get more from Fort Gillem with reporter Allen Wong of CNN affiliate WSB.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN WONG, WSB NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like so many military parents away for almost a year, Major Thomas Tredway barely knows his 16-month-old daughter Anna.

CHRISTINA TREDWAY, SOLDIER'S WIFE: Well, we have eight by ten photos printed out of him in his uniform. And we tell her, Anna, go give daddy kisses. And she'll go give the photo a kiss.

WONG: It's time to find out if baby remembers daddy.

C. TREDWAY: See daddy? Hi, daddy!

WONG: This was the first war where some families were able to stay in touch via videoconferencing.

C. TREDWAY: And the last videoconference, she actually ran to the screen, saying, "dada," waving.

WONG: Logistical sensitivity was also added for married soldiers like Major Al Smith and Captain Tasha Smith.

CAPT. TASHA SMITH, U.S. ARMY: We got married October 26th. We were deployed four days later.

WONG: Both were stationed together in Doha, Qatar, during most of the war where these soldiers set up headquarters to command the fighting. Some even set up command posts in Saddam Hussein's palace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for your steadfast support and your sacrifice. The army is a family, a team.

[ cheers and applause ]

C. TREDWAY: Give daddy love, just like mommy does. Give daddy love. WONG: Well, technology can only do so much. And even with the military's effort to accommodate its volunteer army, emotional and mental toughness is part of what it takes to be a soldier and a soldier's family.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Well, that was Allen Wong of CNN affiliate WSB.

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