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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Family Day for 101st Airborne

Aired March 30, 2003 - 02:57   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: While the soldiers of the 101st Airborne were fighting Iraqi forces, their families back in Kentucky got a break from the war, and our David Mattingly was there -- take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After enduring another week of 24-hour coverage and all the ugliness war has to offer, families at Kentucky's Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne, were in bad need of an afternoon off.

ERICA MOSS, MILITARY WIFE: It's very hard, especially when you have children and young children to where you can't really explain to them what's going on. They keep asking, "Where is Daddy? Where is Daddy?" And he don't really understand, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This one is handling it the worst. She wants her dad to come home.

MATTINGLY (on camera): But beyond the immediate effect of returning some smiles to young faces here, there is a deeper purpose involved, coming from a belief the morale on the front lines begins right here at home.

(voice-over): Their anxiety is as deep as their feelings for their soldiers' spouses, but keeping up home-front morale, they believe, is vital to battleground survival, particularly now that the 101st has entered the fight, successfully taking out an Iraqi armored column the night before, but crashing two helicopters in the process, injuring one soldier.

FAEDRA STAUFFER, MILITARY WIFE: They are constantly worrying, "How are things at home?" And as long as we assure them they're great here, then they have the gumption to go on and do their job like they were trained to do.

MATTINGLY: Anti-war protests are particularly troublesome to these families, worried dissent could spread doubt to the battlefield, creating a potentially deadly distraction.

STAUFFER: He's not going to be as effective at his job, room that he'll make errors. He could lose his life or cause his other comrades to lose their lives. That could happen.

MATTINGLY: One more worry as the fighting in Iraq intensifies, making day-to-day difficulties even harder for Army wives and husbands.

Robert Ward became a full-time house dad to his three children after his wife deployed.

ROBERT WARD, MILITARY HUSBAND: It's real scary, you know, because, you know, nobody knows what's going to happen now.

MATTINGLY: But for one brief afternoon it was time to relax, rebuild morale and then get back to the jobs of supporting loved ones in battle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you come back home. Daddy, I miss you.

MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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