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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

How Some Old Soldiers See This New Battle

Aired October 19, 2001 - 07:54   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We've been getting reports about a limited number of U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan. For America's veterans, the new war brings back thoughts of previous conflicts.

CNN's Candy Crowley -- Crowley that is, went to America's heartland to hear how some old soldiers see this new battle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than a century ago, a young boy was growing up, here on the Kansas prairie. Later, he went out and helped save the world.

Dwight David Eisenhower was born October 14, 111 years ago. He was the nation's 34th president, but that's the second paragraph on Eisenhower. The first begins: Supreme Commander of the Normandy invasion. Meet some of his boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We represent the 195th Field Artillery Battalion, World War II -- Normandy all the way.

CROWLEY: They came to Abilene, Eisenhower's boyhood home, to be part of the birthday observances at the Eisenhower Center. D-Day started with three words from General Eisenhower: OK, let's go. And they went.

Did you feel like you were going to go out and save the world?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't think too much about it until I walked -- we were all in line to get on the boat. We walked out of the building and there was a gangplank and about a quarter of a mile (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

CROWLEY: The gravity is what was...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... that you were going somewhere.

CROWLEY: Now, they watch others go somewhere, old warriors with a new war on their minds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew who our enemy was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we don't know

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... our enemy now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't.

CROWLEY: Everything has changed since they followed Ike into battle, everything, except perhaps what it must be like to be young, far from home, facing the dangerous and the unknowable.

Can you get back to that point where you took off for someplace you maybe not have heard of before? What was that like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you don't think anything about it. You have a job to do, and we did it. You know, we didn't think about getting killed or anything like that. We had a job to do, so we did it.

CROWLEY: Someone once wrote: "There aren't any great men. There are just great challenges that ordinary men, like you and me, are forced by circumstances to meet."

For the record, the greatest generation believes completely in this one.

Do you all have faith this effort is going to win?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. No question. It's going to take time. The public needs to recognize we've got an unforeseen enemy that's going to take a long time, and my old buddies in special forces are going to be in right now.

CROWLEY: Candy Crowley, CNN, Abilene, Kansas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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