CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
USS Paul Hamilton Returns From War in Persian Gulf
Aired April 26, 2003 - 13:50 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN ANCHOR: This is the USS Paul Hamilton, which has just returned from the war in Iraq. They had been out at sea for about six months. It is part of the larger USS Abraham Lincoln, and Alec Fraser is there, I believe.
CAPT. ALEC FRASER, CNN CONSULTANT: Alec -- Andrea, I am actually down here in Atlanta, but I am watching on here, and what you are seeing on the screen here is the highlight of a sailor's life. He is coming home to his home port. The ship has the crew paraded at the rail. You see the battle ensign is flying from the main mass. The ship's commissioning pennant is that long pennant you see streaming in the breeze. The first lieutenant has the deck crew paraded on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that we are looking at now.
It's an exciting time for the ship as it's pulling in. Right now the ship is slowing down about opposite of where it will moor on the pier here in just a few minutes. The tugboats are on the opposite side. Now you see the battle ensign. That's the ensign you fly when you are rolling into places where you want to make sure everybody can see you.
KOPPEL: Captain Fraser, you know a heck a lot more about this ship than I do. What can you tell us about the experiences that the Hamilton had in the Persian Gulf in the last number of months?
FRASER: Well, as we all know, the Hamilton is a guided missile destroyer. It carries Tomahawk missiles and surface-to-air missiles. So, the Hamilton was a big part in the early and the continuing Tomahawk attacks that took place during the war. It also provided protection to the aircraft carrier, the Abraham Lincoln.
It has surface-to-air missiles to do that an anti-submarine weapons to protection it from any submarine threat. Not much of that in the Persian Gulf, but it still had a wide variety of weapons and is a multipurpose ship.
KOPPEL: Actually, one note that I have is that the USS Hamilton was credited with launching more Tomahawk cruise missiles during this war than any other shorter war in theater. Does that sound right to you?
FRASER: That would sound right to me. We are sort of looking at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the ship right now. You can see the Tomahawk missile from the five-inch gun. From that launcher, they could launch almost 60 Tomahawk missiles, and so it has a great capacity to do that and do it in a very short targeting time frame, too. Just to keep our viewers aware of what is going on, the ship has now broken ranks on the manned rail quarters that it was holding. The Deck Division up front and the Weapons Division and in the fan tail are now manning the lines.
Shortly here, we will see some small lines thrown over to the pier. From those lines, the regular mooring lines passed over to the pier, as the tugs continue to pass the Hamilton to the pier.
And that will be an exciting time because right now all of the spouses on the pier and the families are eagerly looking for the faces of ship so they can recognize the people they haven't seen in a very, very long time.
KOPPEL: Now, captain, what can we expect? Are these men and women going to get quite a bit of time to share and reintegrate with their families? Or are they going to have a brief period of time before they have to head out it sea again?
FRASER: Well, are watching the families on the pier right now. You can see they are all standing up and the excitement is building. The sailors will generally have about a month off, and in that time, they will have a two, separate two-, maybe a three-week periods where the crew will -- 50 percent of it will be on leave and be able to go home, and then they will switch over and the half comes back.
You have to remember on a ship, there is a duty section, and every night, there is a quarter or a fifth of the ship is on board, standing duty, protecting the ship from any problems. So, they will get about a month off, and then they start the rotation to head back over to the Persian Gulf, or whenever, again.
The rotation generally runs every 18 months. So, you're back home for a year, maybe a little bit more, and then you're back overseas for six months. However, these deployments right now, particularly the Abraham Lincoln, we know went for nine months. It the is longest deployment since the Vietnam war over 30 years ago. So, this is a special time and a special place for these sailors to come home.
KOPPEL; That was actually a fact that really struck me. I found it really amazing to think that, while certainly nine months is a long period of time, but that I would have expected, in the last 30 years, we would have had deployments that would have gone beyond that.
What does that say about the types of maneuvers, or rather the types of wars, that we've fought?
FRASER: Well, the Navy has slightly over 300 ships right now. And it has commitments to be able to be met in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf off the coast of Korea. And that stretches the Navy rather thin. There are 12 carrier battle groups. Each of those battle groups consist of an aircraft carrier and supporting ships, like the Hamilton that we are watching mooring now. And those battle groups are committed to be overseas almost all of the time. And so they rotate through. One will be back getting ready to go. One will be overseas, and one will have just come back and be preparing to get under way and start the training exercise to work up again.
KOPPEL: Captain Fraser, I want to toss things down to pier side, where our Kyra Phillips is, I believe, with a lot of happy family members right now. Kyra?
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. As you can imagine, it's been a little crazy today. I am going to have Brian (ph) sort of fan off here so you can see the sailors. They're already starting to talk to their families up top. They are with their (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on.
They, obviously, found their loved ones and their wives, their children. Many of these men, believe it or not, haven't even seen their babies yet. In particular, I'm talking about Sonar Tech Seaman, Kevin Galeta (ph). He is somewhere up on that ship.
And with me now is his wife, April. She's very excited for a number of reasons. She hasn't seen her husband in many of months. How are you feeling right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nervous, excited.
PHILLIPS: I can just imagine. What do you miss the most about your husband.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything.
PHILLIPS: What don't you miss? Well, I will tell you what he has missed out on. You have been telling me -- this is an amazing story. Brian (ph), I am going to have you pan down to this absolutely beautiful little baby. This is Katie. She was born on Christmas day. Daddy has not met Katie yet. She was born when her dad, Kevin, was out on the ship fighting Operation Iraqi Freedom. And now you are meeting little Anthony. Hi, Anthony, how are you? Are you excited to see Daddy? Oh, you like the microphone. Oh, he said, hi, dada. Can you say, hi, dada? Oh, that's little Anthony. He's two years old.
What has your husband been saying about the new baby? Has he asked her about every day?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every day, every minute. Never stop talking about the kids. He's probably wondering what I am doing down here instead of being over waiting for him.
PHILLIPS: Well, let's take a look. Let's turn around and see if we can find him. Have you seen him? Have you seen him waving?
Can you guys still hear me in Atlanta OK? I want to make sure because we are having technical difficulties, but (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
We are going to kind of hang here with April and the kids, as she tries to find dad. Gosh. April is a very popular woman. Everyone is trying to track her down, as you would imagine.
As you can see, traditional Hawaiian dancing is taking place to greet the crew.
April, are you being (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Where exactly would he be? We are going to go right here by this (UNINTELLIGIBLE). OK, we'll be looking for you, April, all right? I'll be watching you and the kids. Anthony and Katie. All right, Anthony, we will see you in a little bit, OK? Can you say bye-bye? Oh, he says dada. He's excited to see dada.
KOPPEL: Kyra, I know that you spent some time board the USS Abraham Lincoln out there. I think that you were part of what is considered to be the largest media embed in U.S. Naval history. What was that experience like? You're going to be seeing a lot of these guys shortly, I guess, when the USS Abraham Lincoln docks.
PHILLIPS: We are going to hooking up with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) April, we will catch up with you, all right? We want to keep an eye on you, OK? We will hook up with Kevin, all right? Thank you so much
You're right, I was out -- oh, April's got a quick question for me. Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I say hi to my sister.
PHILLIPS: Say hi to your little sister.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I love you. I miss you.
PHILLIPS: April misses more than just her husband. Her sister, too. All right. Come close to us. When you find your husband, come back to us, okay?
Yes, you are right, I did get a chance to spend time on the USS Paul Hamilton. Matter of fact, we were out on this ship last fall before Operation Iraqi Freedom began. As a matter of fact, I will tell you about -- I'm going to have Brian (ph) kind of go off on the action. You don't need to see me.
So Brian, go ahead and shoot the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
It launched 50 Tomahawk missiles. You know what a big part that played in Operation Iraqi Freedom. It's got war fighting capabilities with the AEGIS Combat System.
And then the other mission is MIO, Maritime Interdiction Operations. And that's what I had a chance to witness while out on the Paul Hamilton. Yes, they were preparing for a war in Iraq.
But, also at the same time, they were conducting MIO operations out in the Persian Gulf. That's when I had a chance to meet Ensign Andrew Roy. He is in charge of the boarding teams out in the Persian Gulf. These boarding teams, they would go out into the Iraqi waters and patrol the Iraqi waters looking for illegal smuggling that was taking place. As you know, the sanctions that were in place with Iraq, they were not allowed to bring oil out of Iraq. And the purpose of the MIO was to stop that illegal smuggling because the money was going back as the military said to us a number of times supporting the Iraqi regime.
Well now, this ship will no longer be having to conduct those MIO operations. They have obviously completed their wartime responsibilities and they are back here. More than 300 sailors here to meet their families. And their children and their loved ones for the first time since August of last year. Back to you guys.
KOPPEL: You know, actually, I was going to talk with Captain Fraser about these amazing ships in the U.S. arsenal. We're talking about -- with the USS Abraham Lincoln the flight deck in and of itself is four and a half acres long. And I don't know if you will find this remarkable but I did, that they launched and recovered aircraft without accident 12,700 times, Captain Fraser?
FRASER: That's right, but it's not done easily. And it's done with a lot of training and it's done with a lot of really sharp young Americans on the flight deck in doing that. When you see that the average age of conducting those flight operations with that number of launches and recoveries without any accident and the average age is around 19 to 20, it's absolutely amazing.
But that just shows that we can feel pretty good about our country because these type of guys out on the front line doing a great job for us and we are seeing the same type of guys manning the rail on the "Hamilton" as it's pulling in. I guess people are launching, what are they doing? And they sort of put the initial lines over on the bow and on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The ship is sort of adjusting itself and it will move forward and back a little bit to line itself with the trail on the pier and then it will gradually work it way up there.
Look at the smiles on the pier. This is an exciting time. Ever since the first command to alter course, to change course out of the Persian Gulf and start heading towards Hawaii the thought on every one of the sailors who are manning that ship is, is when will we get there? And find it interesting to know it took within a day or so for the ship's recreation fund, they probably did what we call an anchor pool. It sort of estimated the day the hour and the minute that that first line would hit the pier. When it finally flew over the first line, and I don't know who won it, but somebody is pretty excited on board and I guarantee if they did the anchor pool or the morning pool, they will know in a second when they have been moored up. They have been looking forward to it for a long time.
Look at those smiling faces. I have pulled into Pearl Harbor many times and coming home from deployment many times, this is the highlight of a sailor's career when you can come back and see the joy and the support that you have back at home.
KOPPEL: How is the experience of a sailor, who has obviously spent most of his time at sea, unless he's an airman, he's been flying over whatever the targets were. But how does that experience differ in terms of coming back home and reintegrating from a marine or soldiers?
FRASER: Well, when you understand that these guys have sort of been on alert 24 hours a day, the general routine on a ship at sea is 18 hours of pretty well hard work and that includes you're on watch one or -- every six hours or so, or else you're on watch one and three or one and two, as you go around the clock. And in addition to that, they have to do their normal work.
And for instance, he was the first lieutenant, he was responsible for maintaining all the deck operating equipment. For the small boats that we are looking out on the side of the Hamilton as it pulls into the harbor right now, he was in charge of the boarding parties, in addition to your normal watch that you go on every few hours; you have to do your normal job, too.
So it's a lot -- constantly alert. When they finally get home, that's a big change. But the fun, the excitement of seeing people that you haven't seen for a long time, that's so great that overcomes a lot of it. But at the same time, the family services center. There are people who come on board of the ship before it enters port, conduct some training seminars of what to expect from your family when you get home. Same things done for families back at Pearl Harbor and other ports training them on what to expect. Sometimes it's not easy on that adjustment but generally the excitement is so great you get to eat food as your home of cooking food. That is so great that people learn to get along with the other problems.
KOPPEL: Captain Fraser, we have been looking at some pictures of some very excited children. They're at the dock. I don't know if you, sir, have any children, but if you could speak from personal experience, what it was like either for your children or friends of yours who would go away for months at a time and the kids have to get use to that and then suddenly dad is home.
FRASER: Well, I have one son and he certainly was on the pier when I came back from deployments many times. And just like we were seeing a little earlier here, when the parent was asking to say hello and all of the little child could say was dada. I mean that focus on dad coming home or mom in a lot of cases on these ships now is really --- it's exciting. And the kids know it. And they've been talking about dad. You get e-mails, you get --- sometimes you get a telephone call or two along the way. So they get really, real excited they know dad's there. They haven't seen them a long time but it sure is exciting.
KOPPEL: Well, I guess it's always got to be really emotional for those fathers who have never seen their young daughters or sons. You've got to imagine this little one has been born since dad was away. But I want to throw things back to Kyra Phillips who is with yet another very excited family at pier side there in Pearl Harbor.
PHILLIPS: That's right, this is the Williams family. I will give the camera a wave there, Christopher. Say, hi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, hi.
PHILLIPS: This is Christopher, his brother James over here. James, say hi to everybody on television.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi.
PHILLIPS: And then this is Celeste (ph) over here. Celeste (ph), can you say -- yeah, say hi. And this is mom, Kelly, who cannot wait to see Petty Officer James Williams JR.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, whoa, it's about time.
PHILLIPS: How are you feeling mom?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm feeling very excited, excited can't wait for him to get home.
PHILLIPS: Did you hear, James? I didn't know he was a petty officer. Hey James, you didn't know daddy was a petty officer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
PHILLIPS: Did you know what he was doing on the ship?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Battling.
PHILLIPS: He was battling, very good. Hey, so Kelly, how did you explain to the kids, what dad was doing on this ship?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I made it a positive thing. I made that he was a hero and he is, he is truly a hero. For all of us. And I didn't make it too negative where they were afraid, so I kept everything positive for them. Made them think -- made them know that daddy's out there helping the world and keeping us all safe. So that's pretty much how I explained it.
PHILLIPS: I can see you are very excited. And you are all dressed up ready to go. What's the first thing -- yeah, you are looking very good. What's the first thing that you will do when he gets off of that ship.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give him a big hug and a kiss and then give him the kids.
PHILLIPS: We will baby sit while you take off, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish. I will put you up to that, now.
PHILLIPS: All right, let's come over here and talk to the kids again. We've got little Celeste (ph), once again, 1 years old. Hey, Celeste (ph)? Celeste (ph)? All right, I will come. There she goes, giving the camera a big wave and I will come over here and talk with James for a minute. James, what did you miss the most about being with daddy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Playing snowball fights.
PHILLIPS: Snowball fights. Can you do snowball fights in Hawaii? You're talking about vacation. What else did you miss about daddy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the swing. He pushed me and we played space ship.
PHILLIPS: You played spaceship? What's first thing that you will do when you see dad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give him a big hug and kiss.
PHILLIPS: All right. You got all quiet all a sudden. Let me see you get all excited again. Come on, you got a sign for dad, what does it say?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James Williams.
PHILLIPS: Did you paint that yourself?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: All right. Christopher, what does your sign say over here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome home, daddy.
PHILLIPS: Welcome home, daddy. And you were telling me what you missed. Is that your handprint or is that Celeste's (ph) handprint?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mine.
PHILLIPS: All right. Tell me what you miss most about your dad, you were telling me about all of the fun games you guys play?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the most fun part, is when my daddy -- when we went to the park in Virginia, we got to play hide in go seek. It was like I couldn't find my daddy, but because it was a crowded park. It was long. I looked all over the park.
PHILLIPS: Did you finally find your dad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and then I had to find him and I found him, he was with daddy.
PHILLIPS: You were with dad. This is a pretty big game of hide in go seek. I think it's going to be easy for you to find dad today, what do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: They are starting to come off of the ship. Do you see him yet? You were looking up there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't see him yet.
PHILLIPS: Do you know what your dad was doing over there overseas?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fighting in the war.
PHILLIPS: That's right, you think he's a pretty big hero don't you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Floating like a star.
PHILLIPS: You're a star now, I will tell you what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're on TV.
PHILLIPS: Yes, you're going to be on TV for a little while here. Let's talk about your husband and what he did on the ship. You were telling me he's an operations specialist?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he is, he mans the waters. Looked around, make sure things aren't around the boat and just basically like a security thing.
PHILLIPS: Right, he mans the radars and makes sure no bad guys towards the ship. I heard someone yell daddy. Did you guys see him? They are yelling for dad right now. Well, as you can see, the families are extremely excited, you guys. Yes, very excited as Kelly says. Right now you can see they're trying to make the connection between the ship and the ports and pretty soon, within minutes here, you will see a lot of excited family members coming off of that ship.
KOPPEL: Kyra, I am actually curious, I know that at least some of the statistics that we've been able to see for the USS Abraham Lincoln that up to three million e-mail messages were sent during their deployment.
PHILLIPS: Yes, you're right.
KOPPEL: Can you ask the family whether or not they were able to communicate through e-mail? And how much that helped? And what dad was saying?
PHILLIPS: Absolutely, let's do that. Let's come over here and talk to Kelly about that. We are talking about modes of communication. We know how difficult it was during the war, calling, e-mail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: But e-mail is a godsend for you, isn't it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh yes, it definitely is we e-mailed five times a day. Sometimes it takes a while for him to respond. But e- mail, I love it, I love it. The only way of communicating.
PHILLIPS: So what was he telling when you Operation Iraqi Freedom was taking place? There was probably a lot he couldn't tell you. But what was you able to learn? Bless you, there James.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was more concerned about my safety here. Because everyone's gone, what are we going to do and he kept saying we will all be safe. We'll all be OK. He's very proud of being in the Navy. He's proud of it. And he's just -- I can't even talk, I am so excited.
PHILLIPS: That's OK; we want you to be excited.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he's done his job well, and I'm really, really proud of him and he likes his job, he loves what he's doing. He believes in what he is doing and that's very important.
PHILLIPS: Were you able to talk much by phone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not much.
PHILLIPS: It's hard when you can't hear that voice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. I know, or give that kiss. I can't wait. But...
PHILLIPS: Kelly, thank you. Thank you very much. We're excited for you. We are going to kind of stay with you here, and you let me know if you see him, and we'll get you guys ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You show me.
PHILLIPS: I will show you, thanks, Kelly. Andrea, it's true. I remember being on the ship and a lot of the young men and women would get so frustrated because the e-mail system wasn't always up and running. A lot of times there were blackouts for security reasons and they weren't able to talk with their families. So when it did take place, it was a precious commodity -- Andrea.
KOPPEL: Well, now you can say you've been embedded with the sailors and you've been embedded with the family members and something tells me it's a lot more fun what you're doing right now -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: This is icing on the cake, Andrea. You know you're out there and you can't talk a lot about what's taking place. There are certain things you of course can't say for security reasons, you know about that. But now it's an open book. It's all good. People are excited to be here. They can't wait to see their families. We don't have to worry about expression at all or details at all. We can just show you all of the emotion and, boy; you will see a lot of it within a few minutes.
KOPPEL: Well, we can really feel it. Thank you very much, Kyra. We'll be getting back to you a little later, but first, we are going to go to Georgia, where we have not the wife and children, but the parents, both Barbara and Jim Roy, whose son Andrew Roy is also on board the USS Paul Hamilton. He's a first lieutenant, and I believe that either mom or dad said not in rank, but in job description. What does that mean? JIM ROY, SAILOR'S FATHER: It means that's his job description, he is an ensign in rank, but the first lieutenant is in charge of the deck division.
KOPPEL: I see. And so help us out there, Jim. In terms of what Andrew's responsibilities have been, what has he told you?
J. ROY: The deck division conducts all the above deck work. They do underway replenishment. They handle the small boats. They do anchoring details. Pretty much all the heavy labor that takes place above decks the deck division does.
KOPPEL: Andrew is 24 years old. I'd like to ask Barbara, why did he join the Navy? And I guess we are looking at Andrew right there from Kyra Phillips story earlier this year.
BARBARA ROY, SAILOR'S MOTHER: Right. That's taken from Kyra's piece on the MIA's before the war began, back in the fall. From an early age, he really was a duty-bound responsible sort of young man, and has a strong feeling of patriotism and a heart of service and that's really why he went into the Navy and we are very proud of that.
KOPPEL: Have you been able to get any e-mails or letters from Andrew? And if so, what has he been telling you about the experiences that he's had?
B. ROY: Once Operation Iraqi Freedom began, he really couldn't say nothing about the details of what they were doing on board the USS Paul Hamilton. We did get an occasional e-mail from him, just always assuring us that he was OK, which a mom and dad like to hear. And he, as I said, was very limited with what details he could give us about exactly what they were doing.
KOPPEL: What about in terms of the care packages? I know that a lot of family members -- you are laughing -- a lot of family members went to a lot of effort to put together all kinds of little goodies that their loved one was craving. What did you put together for Andrew?
B. ROY: It seems as though they ran out a lot of things on the ships such as, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, those kind of personal care items. I tried to send him some food, healthy-type things which is sort of hard to do considering that sometimes it took up to six weeks for a package to be delivered. I might add that I had so many friends from schools and church groups to call and say, what can we send? And they were wonderful in sending care packages, not only to Andrew, but to his shipmates as well.
KOPPEL: Tell us something about Andrew. What, what kind of a young man is he? He clearly is a very patriotic one, having enlisted.
B. ROY: Well, you know, you are asking a mom who is of course going to be very biased on behalf of her son. But the first thing that comes to my mind, he's very out going, very talkative, very friendly, very engaging. He's assertive without being pushy or arrogant and he's really a lot of fun to be around. KOPPEL: Well, we know that Kyra spent a lot of time around Andrew.
B. ROY: Yes.
KOPPEL: A couple of months back and I believe that she is standing by waiting as some of the sailors begin to come off of the USS Paul Hamilton. What can you tell us about Andrew, Kyra?
PHILLIPS: Oh, my gosh I would probably have to ditto everything that Barbara said. First of all, Barbara and Jim, thank you very much for coming into the studio. It's great to hear your voices. Are you guys very excited?
J. ROY: Very excited.
B. ROY: Thank you, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Well, Barbara, I have to make sure we talk about this. By the way, I have been looking through Andrew and I've been going through every single face on this ship. Hoping he knows to be looking for us, I want you to know and he also knows that you guys are in studio and he will be talking to you live very soon. I know he will come to us as soon as he comes off of the ship. But Barbara, I want you to tell viewers how you and Jim did miss him so much and hadn't seen him for such a long time, that you actually e-mailed me and said, can I come see all of the raw video? Could I see anything that you have of my son? Tell our viewers about that.
B. ROY: Well, it was a great experience. In January, we came here to the CNN Center and Kyra was kind enough to show us all the films that had been taken when she was board the USS Paul Hamilton as well as still shots. And I had never been to the CNN Center, so it was so interesting and it was just like, god arranged to have an opportunity for Jim and me to just touch base with our son and we are very thankful for that.
PHILLIPS: And Barbara, I know that you know this man that you are looking at a right now up on the ship, Commander Fred Fuhrman (ph), the CO of the ship, you can see he was very happy. He was greeted by his wife and his kids. And of course getting all of the salutes from his boss, the commander. Very excited to be home and you know Commander Fuhrman (ph), you know about him and what he's done for your son. I know he is very fond of Andrew and relied on Andrew quite a bit during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Dependent on Andrew to take those boarding teams out and safely bring his home men while patrolling the waterways looking for illegal smugglers. Tell us about the relationship between the commanding officer up there and your son.
J. ROY: Well, I think all of the officers on the ship appreciated Captain Fuhrman's ability and his leadership. It wasn't just Andrew, it was all of them. Captain Fuhrman (ph) had a tough job keeping track of everything that was going on and ensuring the safety of his crew. So I know he is breathing an enormous sigh of relief right now to be docked at Pearl Harbor. PHILLIPS: And he was quite a role model to your son. I know Andrea mentioned Andrew is 24 years old. He is one of the youngest men on that ship, but by far, also one of the brightest, graduating from the Naval Academy, top his class. You know, let's talk about just -- well, we're looking at the CO right now, as a matter of fact, you know what let me try to get up there and get him live. Let's try and grab him here. Commander, how are you doing? Good to see you. Great to see you, too. We are live on CNN right now. How does it feel, sir, to be home?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beyond words. Absolutely beyond words.
PHILLIPS: In studio, we have got Andrew's parent, the Roys. I want to meet your kids, introduce us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my eldest son, Bruce Fuhrman (ph), and my youngest son, Brian Fuhrman (ph).
PHILLIPS: Hi there, how are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you say hi to Ms. Phillips?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi.
PHILLIPS: Hi, nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. So you guys, tell me about your dad, are you proud of him or what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, very.
PHILLIPS: What's it like to see him for the first time in months?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't say. I don't know.
PHILLIPS: What did you miss about him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I just missed him a lot.
PHILLIPS: What did you miss about your dad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never got to play with me.
PHILLIPS: Well, you get to play a lot. What's the first thing that you will do with your boys, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we're going to run around and throw some footballs around and have an absolutely great day, and I would like to say hi to Mr. and Mrs. Roy back at Peachtree, Georgia. Your son has done an absolutely marvelous job as have all 330 men and women aboard Paul Hamilton.
B. ROY: Thank you. PHILLIPS: I have to ask you too while I have you here, Operation Iraqi Freedom. You and I couldn't talk about it before it happened. It has now happened, I know you were ready to go, how do you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, the men and women of Paul Hamilton and the U.S. armed forces and our coalition partners performed absolutely magnificently. It was honor to take part of it and now other words, all the way around.
PHILLIPS: Sir, thank you so much I know that you have a lot of people to meet and greet with it. I will talk to you later, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Kyra. Great to see you. Thank you for being with us today.
PHILLIPS: Thank you, you bet sir. Bye, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say bye, say thanks.
PHILLIPS: All right, we are going to continue our live coverage as slowly but surely everybody starts to get off the ship. We are looking of course for a number of people, Ensign Andrew Roy of course. Boy, Barbara and Jim, how did it feel to hear the CO of the ship talk about your son that way?
J. ROY: Well, it feels good. It feels especially good talking about him in Pearl Harbor.
PHILLIPS: Barbara, you probably knew all of those great things already. You probably knew the Commander was going to say those things.
B. ROY: Well, he couldn't say anything but under the circumstances.
PHILLIPS: Well, we are kind of moving our camera over here to see all of the sailors getting up off the ship. Kind of up close and personal here. They're being handed little -- matter of fact, let me go over there and find out what they are handing to the sailors as they are getting off of the ship. Let me come around here and find out. Hey, what are you guys handing out to all of the sailors?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Goody bags with coupons and lots of little things. cookies, just to let them that we care and glad that they are back.
PHILLIPS: Thank you very much. All right, continuing to watch --- oops, we got one sailor caught on the step there. There we go. I think we are just going to sort of let this roll, folks. I am going to look for certain family members. I will look for Andrew Roy; I am going to look for the Galeta (ph) family's husband. Wait, oh, here it is. There it is. You are looking at April and Kevin Galeta (ph). Seeing each other. And Kevin is going to see his baby girl for the very first time. He's hugging Anthony, 2-year-old Anthony. He of course is there for the birth of Anthony. I'm going to get over there. And so, we can talk to Kevin. Andrea, can you still hear me OK?
KOPPEL: I certainly can, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right, fantastic.
KOPPEL: This is really wonderful.
PHILLIPS: This is amazing. It is family that we have been waiting if see. Here comes Brian. All right, we got you kissing. Are you excited?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: Oh, April is a bit speechless. Kevin, we are with CNN, you are live on CNN right now. I am Kyra Phillips. It's nice to meet you. You are seeing your baby girl for the very first time and you are also holding your son for such -- what do you think of your little girl?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's cute, she's pretty. Hi, Katie.
PHILLIPS: So does Anthony looks a lot bigger?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, very big.
PHILLIPS: What did you miss the most about your son?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything, everything I guess. I mean, mostly when he smiles and giggles and stuff, it's fun.
PHILLIPS: Are you going to pick up Katie?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I am.
PHILLIPS: Here we go. We have got sonar tech Seaman Kevin Galeta (ph) picking up his girl for the very first time. This is baby Katie; she was born on Christmas Day, while daddy was off in the Persian Gulf on the USS Paul Hamilton, getting ready for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is now with his baby girl seeing her and holding her for the very first time. Who does she look like, Kevin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not like me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not funny.
PHILLIPS: How did you come up with the name Katie? What made you pick the name, Katie?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: April picked it basically. I just agreed with it, how it goes most of time.
PHILLIPS: April, you are full of tears. What's going through your mind right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm happy. I want to go home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, son.
PHILLIPS: Kevin, being away so long, how did you just stay close to your family? How did you get to know your baby, not even getting a chance to see her? Be there for the birth? How did you stay close to her? She is obviously very comfortable with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had seen pictures of her, that's about it. Other than e-mailing my wife and talked to her on the phone maybe once a week.
PHILLIPS: How does she feel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Light.
PHILLIPS: How are you going to enjoy your baby girl? What kind of responsibilities are you going to take on? I think April said something about diapers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything, everything he gets from now for the next nine months.
PHILLIPS: Is that OK with you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's fine with me. Yes, as much as I possibly can.
PHILLIPS: Kevin, what were you doing to secure little Katie's freedom and Anthony's freedom, your family's freedom while out there in the Persian Gulf?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, as a sonar tech in the Gulf, not much. Basically we look for any submarines and we do a lot of mine detections sometimes, too. That's about it, though.
PHILLIPS: Well, you were part of an extremely important mission. How is it going to affect your baby's future and Anthony's future?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fully, they'll not have to do this like I did. Ever!
PHILLIPS: So, April, what do you got planned for the family when you get home?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to go out to dinner.
PHILLIPS: Would it be Kevin's favorite food?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: Kevin, I don't think you will ever let little Katie go?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, probably not. No. PHILLIPS: Once again, you are meeting Kevin Galeta (ph), sonar tech seaman and his wife April, their little son Anthony, and Katie, who was born on Christmas Day. And this is the first time Kevin is getting a chance to meet his daughter. Thank you so much for your time, Kevin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, April, thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are welcome.
PHILLIPS: Oh my, goodness. What do you say after to something like that, Andrea?
KOPPEL: That was incredibly special.
PHILLIPS: It's very hard to do interviews like that.
KOPPEL: That was incredibly special. Usually we're seeing it taped and edited, in a package, but to actually get an opportunity to see that happen live really made us feel like we were there, too, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Oh, Andrea, thank you so much. I just -- you know, we've been getting to know these families. Matter of fact, let's start roaming the crowd. We have been getting to know these families. And you can't help but just to get absorbed by their stories. Brian, why don't you, let's go over here to where the other families are hooking up.
KOPPEL: Well, while you're looking for another family, Kyra. Why don't I talk to the Roys who are back in Georgia? You get back to us as soon as you get another welcome home event that we can watch and share with you. But for Barbara and Jim Roy, I mean, clearly Andrew is not married. So it's not going to be that kind of a homecoming. But I'm sure that's going through your mind, too, Barbara?
B. ROY: Well, I'm so excited. The timing for us could not be better because his sister is graduating from the University of Georgia next week. So that's part of the festivities that'll be involved in his homecoming.
KOPPEL: Well that is wonderful, that is so exciting. I know Captain Fraser, who is also standing by with us, you said, sir, that you have one son and that you had come and gone many times on various deployments. Did your wife say the same thing to you when you got home? Here's the kid?
FRASER: She absolutely did. But, you know, I remember my first and favorite meal coming home from a deployment being something really silly that nobody would really believe then. But I wanted to have meat loaf. One of those meat loaf and green beans and French fries, because that is combination that you never get very much of at sea.
KOPPEL: I don't like meat loaf. FRASER: I think that I am the only guy in the Navy like that. But it's just one of those things that you sort of remember and the moments that you have when you come home like this are in your memory forever. It's one of those times that you really look forward to. People ask me, what's it like coming home from the deployment? And I think it's hard to describe in the English language, but it is sort of a combination of scoring the winning touchdown or the soccer goal, graduating from school, getting your driver's license, getting married, having a baby. Visiting a friend that you haven't seen for a long time. If you could package all of those together at one time, you sort of have the feeling of what these sailors are going through as they walk off the brow. I didn't see it as they were doing it, but may have done it.
One of the traditions that a lot of ships have is you have the first kiss. A couple of things involved in that and one of the things is to have a lottery to raise money for the ship's recreation fund but number two, the first kiss goes to the sailors who had sons or daughters while the ship was deployed but hadn't seen them. So you sort of let those folks get off early like Roy was trying to do when Kyra caught him and her on the pier and on the other side of the brow. Very exciting.
KOPPEL: How long was that first kiss supposed to last?
FRASER: As long as she'll let you have it. And also as long as proper in a military uniform.
KOPPEL: Well, I actually -- I'm just a font of trivia today. But forgive me; I do know that on board the USS Abraham Lincoln, if you can believe it, there was 150 births while these men and women were out at sea. So there are 150 new fathers, not on this ship but on the USS Abraham Lincoln. I don't know if Kyra happens to know how many new fathers there were while -- while this ship was deployed. The USS Hamilton.
PHILLIPS: You know what? Here on the Hamilton there were 14 babies that were born, Andrea. And the fathers have not met them. They'll be meeting them for the very first time. You obviously met the Galetas (ph). Kevin seeing his baby Katie for the very first time. there are 13 other dads. I could only track down one for you. But I can tell you what, I can be combing through the crowd and see if I can find you another one. We're also continuing to look for Andrew Roy. I want to let you know, I have somebody on a mission now to track him on the ship. So we'll be bringing him to you live pretty soon so he can talk to mom and dad.
KOPPEL: That is terrific. Well, it looks like is an absolutely spectacular day in Pearl Harbor. One of those postcard days, welcoming all of those 330 men and women home after a six-month deployment. Going back...
FRASER: Yes, Andrea, this is Captain Fraser again. I know Andrew Roy will come on the screen here in just a little bit. My first job in the Navy was the first lieutenant. We ought to know that Roy right now he is the guy in charge of making sure the ship is completely secured next to the pier. All the lines have to be properly taught. They have been to be ship-shape, make sure all of the sailors are taken care of, he has to make sure that everything is ready to go before he personally leaves the ship and I think from my experience and he has the hardest job in the Navy. Everybody has a hard job, but Ensign Roy, when he is performing most of his duties, has to do it on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) right underneath the eyeballs of the Captain of the ship. So while Captain Fuhrman (ph) is doing a lot of things he can watch Ensign Roy every minute of what he doing most of time. So we'll be extra appreciative of what he does when we get to meet him in a few minutes.
KOPPEL: Well, clearly, Andrew did his job in a superb fashion. We heard his CO sing his praise just a few minutes ago with Kyra. What else -- what other responsibilities does a first ensign have, Captain Fraser?
FRASER: As a first lieutenant, he does a lot things. He is standing watch on the bridge or in the combat information center and we've already heard several sailors like the operation specialist that mans the radars looking for enemy missile or ships. But also he was head of the interdiction team. He would get on a small boat and I think we had pictures of it earlier as the ship being was moored next to the pier. They are called ribbed. They are rubber inflatable boats. There he is, he is in one right now. Those boats are -- he's in charge of a team that goes over and inspects the merchant ship, boards them, inspects their manifests, takes a look at who's on board, as far as the crew list. Make sure that no illegal material was being shipped into or out of Iraq. We've been doing that now for 15 years or more in the Persian Gulf as part of U.N. sanctions. So even long before Iraqi Freedom, long before we went into Desert Storm and Desert Shield what are we are seeing Ensign Roy performing right now is performed by ships day in and day out.
KOPPEL: I am sorry to interrupt you, Sir, I wouldn't do it, is except Kyra I believe is with Andrew right now.
FRASER: Here we go.
PHILLIPS: I sure am. I found him. He came right up to us. How are you doing?
ANDREW ROY, USS PAUL HAMILTON: Good, how are you?
PHILLIPS: It is great to see you.
A. ROY: Great to be home.
PHILLIPS: Are you excited to be here?
A. ROY: It is a great feeling, to finally see Hawaii after nine months.
PHILLIPS: So what was it like pulling in, just the final minute to get here?
A. ROY: It was incredible. We had the balance in line, the homeward bound pin and everybody manning the rails. And everyone was hollering from the shore. Great to be back to a familiar port.
PHILLIPS: Well we have been talking about you all morning I want you to know. Showing the video from the MIO operations that we did out in the Persian Gulf together. We got mom and dad in the studio. So this is what I am going to do, I will give you my earpiece OK so that you can hear mom and dad. We are on a cell phone. It's high technology here at CNN, OK? So I am going to have you hold this and I am going to have you put in this into your ear. OK, hold on just a second. Bear with me, guys. Hold the microphone.
KOPPEL: Barbara, how does he look?
B. ROY: He looks great. He looks great. I am trying to get a good look at his (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pin which he earned while he was gone.
KOPPEL: What is that?
ROY: His surface warfare officer Pin.
FRASER: Oh, if you can hear me, that's a qualification that he earned. It took a couple of years to do that.
PHILLIPS: Mom and dad, start talking.
B. ROY: Hey?
A. ROY: Hey, mom, how are you doing?
B. ROY: OK, trying not to cry.
J. ROY: Hey, Andrew.
A. ROY: You'll be all right.
J. ROY: Hey, Andrew.
A. ROY: Hey, how are you doing?
J. ROY: I'm doing well, welcome back.
A. ROY: It's great to be back. What's going on in Georgia?
B. ROY: Picture-perfect weather waiting for your arrival here Tuesday.
A. ROY: That's good, I am sure it will change 10 times between now and then.
B. ROY: It may, it may.
J. ROY: Andrew, we are the happiest and proudest parents in the world right now. Glad to have you back.
A. ROY: Thanks for all of the support, it meant a lot. It was a real long deployment, as you guys know, but I think we were out there and it made a difference and it was good to have the support of everybody back at home help us do our jobs.
B. ROY: I talked with your sister this morning, and she told me to tell you that she wishes she could be here, but she's bogged under with working on her final project, which has to be turned in next week, so she will see you right after that.
A. ROY: That's good. I am glad she has the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to come first. Everybody (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my little sister Elizabeth is graduating from the University of Georgia next week. And I am getting to go home and see it. So that's the best part about all of this.
KOPPEL: Andrew, this is Andrea Koppel in Washington. Your parents just a few moments ago were asking whether or not you have your new pin, are you?
A. ROY: Andrea, can you say again, please. I didn't hear you.
KOPPEL: Sure, your mom was asking just a few moments ago whether or not had gotten your new pin. Something that you had worked for for the last two years.
A. ROY: I think -- my surface warfare officer pin and I did get it right before Thanksgiving. So it was a big accomplishment. Glad to get that done. And just enjoying the community service corps officers.
KOPPEL: Andrew, what was this experience like for you, the last -- you haven't seen your folks in a year. You have been out at sea for how many months now? How would you describe this experience?
A. ROY: It's been incredible. This is what I joined the Navy to do. We've been at sea for nine months straight, and then 12 of the last 16 months before the deployment. So it's been a long time, but this is what the Navy does. We go over to the other side of the world and do what our nation needs us to do. So just a real honor to be part of the liberation of Iraq and all of the other missions we did while we were on deployment. Real proud to be part of this crew. And I couldn't have asked for better sailors in my division. The division on Paul Hamilton is the best in the fleet.
KOPPEL: Well, I know that your parents are unbelievable proud of you. Your father seems to be bursting his buttons there. I have to ask you, Andrew, I am sure there are so many memorable moments from the last nine months at sea but what would you say that you are going to remember the most, what one or two moments?
A. ROY: In all honesty, it's the little moments. When you're sitting on the fan tail and the sun's going down and you're with your chief or you're with one of your petty officer or talking to one of the seaman about life, about what it's like being in the middle of the Arabian Gulf during a war contributing to the liberation of another country while you are protecting your own. Those little conversations that are sometimes are too numerous to mention but they add up a lot to make this experience special.
KOPPEL: What do you want to tell your parents, perhaps something that you haven't had an opportunity to do, either in e-mail or in letters?
A. ROY: No child can say enough. I love you guys, thanks for all of your support. And thanks for when I was a little boy and making me stand up when that flag went by, because I don't think I would be doing this if it wasn't for that. A real positive influence to love your country.
B. ROY: I love you too.
KOPPEL: Barbara, if you are not tearing up right now...
B. ROY: I am.
KOPPEL: You have a heart of stone; I have got to tell you. I can't imagine what that feels like as a parent to hear your son say that to you.
B. ROY: Well, it's hard to explain what it makes us feel like. But we're thankful. For both of our children. We're proud of both of them and we feel truly blessed.
KOPPEL: Well, Andrew, I know that you have got some anxious people in Georgia. Including your sister Elizabeth who can't wait to see you on Tuesday and can't wait to see you in your uniform at her graduation. What is it next weekend?
A. ROY: Yes, it is next weekend. We will see about the uniform, been wearing that a lot lately.
KOPPEL: OK, fair enough. Just so you don't wear shorts, Andrew.
A. ROY: Yes, ma'am.
KOPPEL: Oh, well, Andrew Roy, thank you for --- and Barbara and Jim for letting us be a fly on the wall so to speak to this incredibly emotional and special welcome home.
B. ROY: Kyra, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You'll never know how much we appreciate this opportunity has come our way.
A. ROY: And for me it's same. It's been incredible that I can sit here on the pier in Hawaii and talk to my parents who are in Atlanta. Sometimes this technology overwhelms me. But thanks so much for setting this up. It's been really the icing on the cake for this real special day.
KOPPEL: Well, for us as well. This is -- this is what live TV is supposed to be about. Sharing moments like this. Andrew, at ease.
A. ROY: Thank you.
KOPPEL: Thank you all so much, and I want to thank Barbara and Jim... B. ROY: You are welcome.
KOPPEL: In Atlanta, for letting us be part of your reunion.
B. ROY: Thank you, Kyra.
J. ROY: Thanks, Kyra.
B. ROY: Andrew, we will see you Tuesday.
A. ROY: OK, thank you, see you all.
J. ROY: Bye, Andrew.
PHILLIPS: You got it OK? Are you guys still with me?
PHILLIPS: Yes, can you hear me OK?
KOPPEL: Yes, yes, we can. I just want to thank you on behalf of all of our viewers for having such a quick eye in catching Andrew just as he got off the ship there. You've done a terrific job.
PHILLIPS: Isn't he a handsome young fellow?
KOPPEL: He sure is, but his face was kind of in the shade. I know a lot of young women who have been trying to get a better look at him.
PHILLIPS: You're face is too much in the shade. Here we go, how's that? He's available, single; he's a strong Christian man with an incredible love for his country. Isn't that right, mom.
ROY: Yeah, that's right.
KOPPEL: All right, CNN has been a lot of things. I don't know about a dating service but there is always a first. Thank you very much, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: It's great, it was great to be able it see Andrew again. It was neat seeing him in action out in the Persian Gulf and now it's great to be back here and see that he home safely and be able to connect him with his parents.
KOPPEL: Well, Kyra, thank you and thanks to -- and thanks to your crew there as well for some really rapid camera action and for some quick work there. Captain Fraser, when you watch something like that that it has to bring back memories.
FRASER: It feels like I just got back from my last deployment ten minutes ago, also. It's a thrill that you never forget. You just go over and over again in your mind. I can remember pulling into San Diego or into the Norfolk, Virginia or the coast of Japan and all the different places and always on the pier is home. And like the old television commercial, our most favorite destination is home. So is it for all the ships and the sailors on board, too.
Because, you know, even as the Abraham Lincoln will be pulling into Pearl Harbor here shortly, but home, home is where your family, is the home is also the United States. So be able to pull back into to your country, the country that sent you overseas that you performed for and spent a lot of dedicated time and always remembering, and I wish I had time at the beginning to sort of bring this up, but the sailors that were standing at manning the rail, it's an honor ceremony that honors the country that you're returning to or an honoring another, you know, another Navy if you were doing that.
But it's also honoring those sailors and soldiers and marines who gave their lives in this particular war. And that thought was in the back of all the minds of those sailors that were standing there. Behind the ship, when you pull out of Pearl Harbor, is the Arizona Memorial. And the Navy has lots of traditions. We started those -- the British Navy started those back when the ships were invented.
But those traditions of such as when a ship pulls out of Pearl Harbor, of paying respects to the sailors who were killed in at the attack of Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial, which we can sort of see in the background there the ship comes parades the crew at the quarters which we saw them coming at the rail headquarters as the "Hamilton" was coming in, and they toss a wreath in the water and the entire crew salutes. There are ceremonies in the Navy to salute people who have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.
So as we watch the crew pulling in, and manning the rails and doing all of the traditions of the Navy, there are also at the same time, monitoring their country and honoring their comrades who did not come back from the Persian Gulf with them. So it was a significant moving moment and those are the memories that go through my mind looking as the "Hamilton" came in.
I would like to just point out in the picture we were looking at a second ago. If we can get it back, there are a lot of traditions in the navy and one of them is this really long ship's commissioning pennant, which is flying from the mass in addition to the large -- as the ship was pulling in. The ships normal commissioning pennant is about a yard long but when you pull back from deployment, you add a yard for every month or so that you were deployed and so the ship's commissioning pennant when we look at reruns of that at some time, you will see this long pennant, sort of trailing off of the side of ship as the wind blows it over. That's for every month or week that the ship was deployed. You add more material to it. The ship's proud of that. They will keep it, man it on the bulkhead someplace, it will be a sign of honor and pride for that ship as it goes through the rest of its life.
KOPPEL: Well, thanks for pointing that out, Captain. I want to bring our viewers up to speed. They are watching now, taped replay of some of the reunions that have taken place in the last hour. Crewmembers, sailors on board the USS Paul Hamilton who had been at sea for nine months. This sailor you are seeing right there is meeting his baby daughter for the very first time. There have been moments like this whether it is from the commanding officer, seeing his two sons, Kyra introducing us to a 24-year-old seaman who hasn't seen his parents in Georgia for a year. The USS Hamilton, just a little bit of trivia to let you know what this ship is. It has 330 both men and women on board. It was credited for launching more tomahawk cruise missiles during war than any other shooter in theater, which I believe, Captain Fraser is quite an accomplishment, isn't it.
FRASER: It is an accomplishment and it was done without any mechanical problems and it was done with the new accuracy in these tomahawk missiles that we did not have back in Desert Storm. The Tomahawk missile can fly hundreds of miles now. It is guided not only by a terrain mapping radar as it goes into the target but it is also a targeted by the global positioning system. System that has come about since the '91 war over in the Persian Gulf. It is a very, very capable missile. They're actually in the coming years going to get a lot better, being fired from the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
I am going to pause here for a second because the picture that we're seeing shows a large lay over (UNINTELLIGIBLE), over the bow of the ship over the number of 60 you see coming in. And that lay is made by the wives club, that they have gotten together for weeks, months in somebody's garage piecing together pieces of plastic bags that different stores or have donated to them, one after the other. It's a great way of bonding together as the ship's getting ready to come home and that lay was made over the last few months. It was put on a tugboat taken outside of the entrance to Pearl Harbor and Ensign Roy's team hauled it back up on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) draped it over the side. And that's what we were looking at a second ago.
KOPPEL: This is of course again to remind our viewers, we are looking at taped replay of the USS Paul Hamilton as it returns to its home port here in Honolulu at Pearl Harbor, which is a place, that's well known to many Americans, obviously. Give us a sense, if you could, Captain, just how cramped those quarters are? I know that the USS Abraham Lincoln is enormous. But for those 330 seamen, what was it like being on board for nine months?
FRASER: The Navy's made great strides of how it houses and births its sailors. But basically take your bathroom and put six people do into it. You sort of get their size and stacked three high on either side. Sailors gets to keep in his locker but his locker's actually a fold up mattress and then you fold a cover underneath that and that's that you have.
So you have been to be very frugal of what you take. The good thing about it, the navy ship you got a laundry, so you can send it back to the salt water laundry that it washes your clothes in, rinses it in fresh water so its not that bad. But it is very, cramped and in the mess decks you have to turn over the crew about three, four times as you serve a meal in order to have to let everybody have a seat. But you're operating 24 hours a day.
So in any given time the third over the half of the crew is on watch and the rest of crew is back doing its normal administrative jobs maintaining equipment, taking care of the deck, as Ensign Roy was doing. So there is a lot going on to sort of rotates the crew through. So when you are finished doing what your job is and what your watch is all you want to do is lie down and go to sleep for a while, because you are getting back up and starting whole routine over again. Andrea?
KOPPEL: Besides the technological advancements that you were talking about in just the military's, whether it be the Aegis Destroyer or any other military equipment that we have now, one of the other change that's happened in recent years is the inclusion of women on board these ships. I don't know what the breakdown is, but I can't imagine many of those 330 seamen are women, but what has that done to the dynamic on board, Captain?
FRASER: I think it has made the dynamics a whole lot better that. That the guys perform better when the women are on board and they have a very high-level professionalism just like the men did. So it's been an improvement. What we had to do over a period of time, was change the facilities on board the ship to make it something that is easy for both men and women to live closely on board together. It's been an effort. the navy took the task at-hand and a number of years ago, started putting both men and women on ships.
First of all, on oilers and service (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and gradually on guided-missile destroyers, like we just looked at with Paul Hamilton. I don't know if the Hamilton has women on it or not, I am talking to the Roys. They said they did. They had a number of them. So how they integrated that both on the officers on the watching and you will find that it made absolutely no difference and it works very, very well. My experience with the women that were on board the ship was terrific. It was long overdue thing. Smog does with the facilities. Hard to change bulkheads or walls to redo the facilities and it was finally done and it is working very well.
KOPPEL: Captain Fraser, I understand Kyra Phillips who is at the port there at the dockside at Pearl Harbor has yet another family. Well, we know this family, right, Kyra?
PHILLIPS: That's right, you met the Williams family early on. And here they are. Are you happy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are, glad to be home.
PHILLIPS: Kelly, you said to your husband -- what's the first thing that you said to your husband?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you, and I'm going to say it a hundred, thousand billion, trillion times. I love you and I am proud of you.
PHILLIPS: Petty Officer James Williams Jr., an operation specialist on the USS Paul Hamilton. How does it feel to be home, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It feels good to be on steady ground again. It was really shaky and really rocky on the way in, but the Paul Hamilton and the crew just fought through it. A couple of times I didn't think I was going to make it. Being the career sailor that I am, it was awesome, to come home. PHILLIPS: A couple of times you didn't think you were going to make it? Tell me what you went through. Give us a feel, you couldn't talk about it then but you can talk about it now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, actually, I didn't make the full deployment. I came just a few weeks ago. Actually, a few months ago, I am sorry. A few months ago. But I did have a chance to get -- be a part of OIF, which was miraculous. It was beyond any -- anything that I've ever endured on board any Naval vessel. I have been in the Navy 10 years, and this is the best command that I have been to. It really is, it really is. When I first stepped on board, I was greeted with the utmost, utmost warm welcome. I mean, it was beyond any other ship that I've ever been on. So that started my adventure there.
PHILLIPS: I have to tell you, sir, a lot of people have a tremendous amount of respect for you because you were recommended to us to talk to. So I got to ask you about kids. How have they changed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, they've changed quite a bit. Three months is definitely a lot of time to grow. I've noticed that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has four teeth now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has four teeth, when I left, she had two. She was just cutting. Her birthday's Tuesday.
PHILLIPS: What are you going to do for her birthday?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, we're going to have fun. That's the Williams' motto, we always have fun.
PHILLIPS: Hey, guys, how does it feel to see dad? James, how about you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fine.
PHILLIPS: Are you excited?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: What did you do when you first saw him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ran to him and gave him a big hug.
PHILLIPS: How about you, Christopher?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that question again?
PHILLIPS: Are you excited to see dad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: What did you do when you first saw him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. PHILLIPS: What did you do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hug him.
PHILLIPS: They get all shy. What's up with that? They were running around and doing whistles and all that stuff before you got here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy's home now, they are going to act good. Now they're going to act good. My little angels.
PHILLIPS: Are you guys going to behave now that dad's here and he's in charge?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
PHILLIPS: All right. Let me finally ask you, now that you are here with your kids, you are here with your family, you look back at what you did over the past few months, put into perspective. Operation Iraqi Freedom, I mean, what does it mean for your kids and the future of your family?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, as you know, we've set history. Just in the nine months deployment, nine, 10 months deployment the Lincoln battle group and the Paul Hamilton has endured. I think I will never forget the day I stepped on board. Tremendously, that'll be the day that probably will linger in my mind and be put into history books. That I was able to be a part of the Paul Hamilton Lincoln battle group operations in Iraqi Freedom. It was unbelievable. The words to put into this is just astonishing. I mean, just the level of respect that I have for the Paul Hamilton at this time is just outstanding.
PHILLIPS: What are you going to do for the family? What's next, guys? Kelly, what do you have planned?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am sorry, honey, but I didn't make any plans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's all right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we are going to get something to eat, we are going to relax. I'm going to get you in backgammon. I've been waiting to get him on that game.
PHILLIPS: I heard she whipped you in backgammon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, I told her in one e-mail that I will make this exception one time to jump my class to the advance -- or reduce my class down to the 101 level. Because I'm up there at about 105, you know, the advance course?
PHILLIPS: Kelly, it is going to be a busy day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is. And they have a new (UNINTELLIGIBLE) too. And daddy's going to give it to them.
PHILLIPS: All right, Petty Officer James William Jr. and the entire Williams family, thank you so much. We salute you, sir, and we appreciate your time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I put out one more spot?
PHILLIPS: Go right ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to thank Ms. Katherine (ph) once again. She -- I met her at the beginning of my journey to get to the Paul Hamilton, and she embraced me and just thrilled to be sitting next to me on the plane. And she -- I gave her correspondence and she sent me gifts and my family gifts, and it was unbelievable. It was a lot of encouragement. And the crew loved it. Thank you so much. And you are what makes America great.
PHILLIPS: And so are you, James.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much. We really appreciated the Easter baskets.
PHILLIPS: You guys, thank you so much. You got a big heart. Thank you. I am sure that you made just a big impact on her as she made on you, my friend. You guys enjoy your day, OK?
All right, the Williams family home. Boy, what a homecoming, you guys!
KOPPEL: What an emotional hour, Kyra. You know, it's one thing for journalists to cover the war as you and our other colleagues did as embeds, but it is a whole other story when you get to cover really emotional happy stories like this one. We can only wish there were more. Three hundred and thirty men and women on board the USS Paul Hamilton who are all coming home safe and sound and there will be more homecomings next hour. Kyra, thank you very much. I am sure we'll be back to you as the day progresses.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Andrea. Thank you very much, this meant a lot to me, too. You got know these people on a personal level as well as a professional level. And it means a lot to come full circle to be out in the war with them and then come back here and see them come home alive. It is pretty neat.
KOPPEL: Well, I can tell you we certainly feel that, it just came through every pore.
PHILLIPS: Thank you.
KOPPEL: Thank you so much.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Andrea.
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