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USS Lincoln Arrives in Home Port

Aired May 6, 2003 - 13:02   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: As you can imagine, port side here, thousands and thousands of friends, family, husbands, wives. One wife, particularly, very excited about seeing her husband. She hasn't had her honeymoon yet.
Tell me who you're waiting for. What's his name?


PHILLIPS: What does he do on the ship?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a petty officer. A petty officer.

PHILLIPS: A petty officer. Where do you want to go for your honeymoon?


PHILLIPS: This is the rest of the family here, right?


PHILLIPS: Another family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another family. We're from Oregon. We're from Aloha (ph), Oregon and I'm waiting for my son, Jonathan Derek Sanchez (ph), and I am desperate to see him. Yes. He's been gone for 10 months.

PHILLIPS: Tell me, what's your background? Are you Hispanic?


PHILLIPS: Yes. Where are you from?


PHILLIPS: So, tell me what it was like, I mean, being from Mexico, and your son joining the Navy and fighting for the United States of America. Tell me about that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, he is an American citizen, but still, I'm very proud of my son. Yes. I'm so happy for all of them, that they made it back. Yes.

PHILLIPS: Thank you. And you're waiting for your husband?


PHILLIPS: From Missouri?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Terrence Brownley (ph) from Florison (ph), Missouri.

PHILLIPS: What did he do on the ship?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a machine mate -- a machinist's mate.

PHILLIPS: Mom, what do you think? How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... excited. I'm excited, and I know he's thrilled, and I just want to say congratulations and a good -- a job done well.

PHILLIPS: What's the first thing you'll do when you see him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to hug him.

PHILLIPS: Not going to let him go, are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. His girlfriend is here, so I don't know -- she may make me let him go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to fight for it. We are going to fight for him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... have Dad right here...

PHILLIPS: Dad -- let me see the T-shirt, Dad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right on. It says Navy. What else?

PHILLIPS: Full speed ahead?


PHILLIPS: They couldn't move fast enough, could they?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they couldn't. I was hoping he'd jump off and swim over.

PHILLIPS: Sir, why are you so proud of your son?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's following in my footsteps. Why else?

PHILLIPS: ... military, sir?


PHILLIPS: And what did you do?


PHILLIPS: Oh, boy. We're going to have to move along. That's all right. God bless you. All right. Now, who are you guys waiting for?


PHILLIPS: Do you see them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's the one waving at us!

PHILLIPS: All right. Hold on. Come right over here, can you see this -- right over here, she is waving in the black jacket. See her waving up there in the black jacket? All right. Tell us about your sister.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a sea whiz tech (ph) and she's awesome. Loves her country, loves God. She's great.

PHILLIPS: You are looking at your daughter for the first time in how many months?


PHILLIPS: Wow. How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I'm so excited! Get her down here. We're all going to cry.

PHILLIPS: It's your sister?


PHILLIPS: You must be proud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I'm so proud of her, it's not even funny. I've been proud of her since pretty much the day I saw her.

PHILLIPS: And you are related to this -- ah, Grandma.



PHILLIPS: We got the whole family here. So what do you think of your granddaughter aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It couldn't be better. She got to talk to Mr. Bush, got to shake his hand. Just awesome.

PHILLIPS: Did she tell the president anything?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think so. I think she was stunned. But he told her he was very proud of her. So, yes.

PHILLIPS: You must be one proud grandma. And what's up with the little doo-dah (ph) on your head there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that's my daughter's doo-dah (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wanted her to be able to find us in the crowd.

PHILLIPS: I have a feeling -- well, she's already seen you, so you're in luck. We are going to let you guys run up and greet her as soon as she gets off that ship, OK? Thank you. All right. Who else? Who are you guys waiting for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My brother, Darren Hamilton (ph).

PHILLIPS: Your brother. What did he do on the ship?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was in -- I don't know.

PHILLIPS: You're just glad to see him?


PHILLIPS: What do you think about him serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, I think it's great. I'm just glad they're home safely.

PHILLIPS: Getting excited. All right, here we go. They're starting to pull out the ropes, as you can see, getting much closer here, pier side. Miles, this is such an amazing sight. I mean, 10 months at sea, the longest ever for a deployment since the Vietnam era. I've never seen so many people pack the pier, not only along where we are standing, but all around the different sides here in Everett, Washington. It's just incredible.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Kyra, I heard there might be as many as 10,000 people on that pier.

PHILLIPS: That was the count, yes. They were telling me more than 10,000 people about ten minutes ago.

O'BRIEN: Wow. That's something. And lots of American flags there.

PHILLIPS: Oh, here we go Miles. Here we go. Look at them all waving up here. A lot of relatives, already finding -- oh, here we go. See, you're going to see everyone starting to break the line. Greg, get a shot of this. They're allowed to get closer and closer, according to the various signs. Sailors are letting them get closer, up to the area where they're going to come off of this -- this bow right here. And actually, I'm going to bring you over here -- oh, I think we might be getting in a little trouble, so we're going to keep moving on over here.

O'BRIEN: I tell you what, Kyra, why don't you get in place? Let's check in with Frank Buckley...


O'BRIEN: ... who is somewhere up there on the deck, I think. Frank where are you? FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're on the flight deck, Miles. And what you just heard right now, when the lines go over, they say "Moored, shift colors." And what happened was, that means that they're technically moored, the lines have gone across, and the colors, the flag, have gone up here at the aft end of the ship. They've come down from the island, from the mast area. So that's what's happening.

Here on the deck, this flight deck, you can see they're manning the rails. It's such a spectacular sight. This is the flight deck where there were more than 12,000 takeoffs and traps during this nearly 10-month long deployment, mishap free, and now it is all the sailors here on the deck preparing to go home.

I want to take you over here and show you what they are seeing from their perspective. Kyra is down there on the pier. We're up here on the ship, and look down there at all those thousands of people. They're all here for these sailors. An emotional sight for a lot of these guys.

Among them, this guy that I'm standing next to right here, airman Thomas Bowen (ph). Thomas (ph), you were telling me that your wife is in Las Vegas right now. She's not able to be here, but you wanted to say something to her at home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wanted to say I love you, babe.

BUCKLEY: That's about what you wanted to say. Let me tell you, though, that even though your wife is not here, all these people are here for you, and for the 2,661 sailors that remain aboard. Tell me what it feels to you to come home to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just great. This is awesome.

BUCKLEY: Did you expect it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they were telling me about this for about the last week or so.

BUCKLEY: Well, congratulations and welcome home.

I am going to move on down the line here and talk to a couple of other people. Don Haley (ph), petty officer. You got your wife and two kids here waiting for you. And you were telling me, your sons, their entire elementary school, took the day off to come down here to see you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct sir, Highland (ph) Elementary School.

BUCKLEY: How does that make you feel, knowing that they are all here for you and all these other folks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they're the real heroes in my life. They're the ones that put up with all of this, the separation, and the neighbors, also, for helping -- mowing the yard and all the efforts they put into it.

BUCKLEY: They really took care of you guys while -- even though you couldn't be there to do everything for your family, they looked after your family. Must be a great feeling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir, it is. It is the same feeling I got when I saw the American flag when we pulled in.

BUCKLEY: All right. Well, thank you very much. We appreciate your service.

I'm going to move down the line here. One more person I want to talk to, Jennifer Cowls (ph). Jennifer, you're one of these moms who's a sailor.


BUCKLEY: Your husband and your 1-year-old daughter are here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they are. I can't find them out here, but they're out here somewhere.

BUCKLEY: What does it feel like for you to see all this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just overwhelmed. I can't believe all these people came to see us. We deserve it. And I'm loving it, all of this.

BUCKLEY: Tell me, it's so difficult. We always hear about the new dad. You're a relatively new mom. And you've missed so much of your daughter's first year. It's such a sacrifice on your part. Tell me what you want to do when you see that daughter of yours.

What's her name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jennifer Cowls and my husband Jeremy Mcailer (ph) is out there. Man, I don't know, I want to give him a big old hug when I get off. I'm just so excited to see them. I don't know.

BUCKLEY: And is -- you know, you've missed so many events in her little, new life. Can you regain it?

Are you going to show her the love when you get down there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can never regain what I lost when -- missing her birthday, everything like that. But I hope to move forward and hopefully be there for the rest of her birthdays to come, and Christmas' and all that.

BUCKLEY: Well, all right, thank you so much. I know you're moved and we are, too. Thank you very much. Just an emotional scene here. A little more subdued than what Kyra is experiencing down on the shore with those people screaming. And these guys have been at attention for a while so they can't really scream and shout but I can tell you, they're very excited to be home. Miles and Kyra, back to you.

O'BRIEN: I'll tell you, Frank, if that doesn't bring home the sacrifice to all of us, I don't know what will, to talk to a young mother who missed those early months of her child's life. That's a tremendous sacrifice they're asked and, yet, they do it willingly.

BUCKLEY: And it's just one story that 2,661 sailors here still on board, the air wing that already left, nearly 3,000 folks there. You hear it over and over again. Each one of them, an individual story of sacrifice and dedication, and now an individual story of great joy, that they're about to experience when these brow go across, five of them, that the plank or the bridge as we would call it. But they're called brows, they'll go down, and then you'll see the first kiss folks will go off. They've won a chance to have the first kiss. Then the new dads, about 150 new dads on this ship. And they'll get to go across and see their children for the first time. It's going to be an emotional scene.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's stay on these wonderful pictures. But I do want to bring in one more guest who will be joining us and talking us through this emotional moment.

Ed Brownlee is a former navy captain, joining us from New York City today.

Ed, first of all, welcome.

When you see this, does it bring back good or tough memories?

CAPT. ED BROWNLEE, U.S. NAVY (RET.): It brings back good memories. You know, as a former commanding officer, you remember, you know, standing on the bridge and realizing when you get those first lines over that you've completed your mission, you went out there and did the job. And you brought your crew home safely. And that's probably what's going through the commanding officer's mind right now. He was called on to perform a mission. His crew, the air wing, they all just performed admirably. They're all home, they can spend some time with their families.

O'BRIEN: Put that in perspective for us, for a deployment of this length, two engagements in hostilities. To come back -- we're talking about an entire carrier group, upwards of, what, a dozen vessels or more, and not a single loss. That is a tremendous statement, isn't it?

BROWNLEE: Yes, it is. It really shows how well trained and how well focused and how well dedicated those young men and women are, that they can go out and do this very complicated mission, when they were called upon by the president and the secretary of defense, do their jobs and do it well and do it quickly, and then come home to their families. You're right, it is a very emotional experience and day for everyone aboard that ship.

O'BRIEN: Now as we watch this unfold today Ed, I wanted to have you give us a little flavor of some of the traditions. The one I wanted to ask you about now is what happens on the last night before the end of a deployment and a ship comes in to its mooring?

That's kind of a special night, isn't it?

BROWNLEE: Yes, it is. For one, everyone can probably assume it's hard for anyone to get any sleep, because they're excited about returning home. It's been, what, for this ship, over 10 months. So they're usually watching movies, you know, just sharing stories with their shipmates. And also deciding, what is that very first thing they're going to do when they return back home to Everett or San Diego or Hawaii, wherever their home ports are. Whether it's step a shore and go to McDonald's or just have a nice, quiet evening at home with their families. You really want to have some plans on how you're going to spend that first night and that's what most of them are doing, besides staying up all night and watching movies, and playing cards or whatever. Just relax, kind of get your mind off it for a while.

O'BRIEN: I understand the last meal on board was T-bone steaks and breaded shrimp, that's not a bad. Not a bad way to end that 10 months.

BROWNLEE: I can remember times when we've had steak and lobster and finished off all the ice cream we had in our freezers. So it's always a memorable last night, although what's happening now on that pier kind of erases that.

O'BRIEN: Yes, finishing off all the ice cream, everybody comes to shore with a stomach ache, but nevertheless, happy.

Let's get back to Kyra Phillips, who's down on the pier.

Kyra, I understand that they're giving out American flags and yellow ribbons. And it's a $25,000 reception, I'm told, they're going to make money to pay for it by selling water bottles.

Have you seen evidence of that?

PHILLIPS: They've been selling a lot of things, Miles, to raise money, you can imagine. Water bottles, T-shirts, a bunch of different things down here in the midst of the families. But I want to introduce you to a very excited group of people over here. I am going to kind of work my way in. These are all new mommies.

These are babies that have not seen dad, right?

Are you nervous, you're being so quiet. Let me talk to you.


PHILLIPS: All right, new mom -- I don't want to say number 58. Tell me your name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wendy Smith (ph). PHILLIPS: Who are you looking for, Wendy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband, Richard Smith (ph).

PHILLIPS: Have you seen him yet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I can't find him.

PHILLIPS: Tell us about your brand-new baby and the fact that Richard has not seen your precious child yet. Give us some details on this little one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, this would be the first -- we planned the pregnancy around this deployment. Obviously, didn't work out, had him before they pulled in and now he's seven weeks old.

PHILLIPS: There he goes, and he lost his little pacifier there. Oh he going for the fingers.

What's his name?



What's the first thing you'll ask your husband to do, once you hand that brand-new baby to do him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just carry him. Take over the kids for a little while, that would be nice.

PHILLIPS: It's been stressful?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, very. I'll be glad when it's all over.

PHILLIPS: He's a cutie pie.


PHILLIPS: All right, let's move on to another new mom.

Who are you looking for, mom?


PHILLIPS: Brian what?


PHILLIPS: What does he do on the ship?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's at (UNINTELLIGIBLE), aviation technician.

PHILLIPS: Where's his new baby? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right here.

PHILLIPS: Tell us all about! All right, you have to got to give us all the specifics, mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know where to start. I'm lost for words.

PHILLIPS: Tell us your name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's Victoria (ph). She's two months old, yesterday. And we just can't wait for daddy to come home. That's all there is too it. We've been so lonesome and just so -- he's so missed.

PHILLIPS: How did you tell daddy about Victoria?

When did he first find out she was born?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I e-mailed on my cell phone. I wrote "having baby." He goes, having baby, or in labor? I said well, both. So, and then I got a phone call shortly after so.

PHILLIPS: What's the first thing you're going to do when you see him?

What are his responsibilities with Victoria?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what, right now, it doesn't really matter as long as we all have each other again as a family. That's it.

PHILLIPS: How did you hang in there while he was gone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was my kids and my little helper here, who did everything that her daddy would probably do, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what's your name?


PHILLIPS: Come here by the microphone.

What are you going to tell daddy when you see him?


PHILLIPS: What are you going to tell him about your new baby sister?

Is she cute?


PHILLIPS: Are you proud of her?


PHILLIPS: Do you know what your daddy was doing overseas?


PHILLIPS: What was he doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Protecting our world.

PHILLIPS: Protecting your world. Thank you so much. We've got more new mommies over here. All right, let's move our way over this way. New mommy, tell us your name.

You want to be on?

Is this your baby brother?

OK, you tell -- there you go, you can hold him. Tell us about your new baby brother.


PHILLIPS: What's his name?


PHILLIPS: And how old is he?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four months. Four and a half months.

PHILLIPS: And this is the first time he's going to see daddy, right?


PHILLIPS: Can you say -- oh, look at how tired he is.

Has he been getting any sleep, mom?



How about you?


PHILLIPS: Well, congratulations.

Miles, I'm told 160 new pops on the USS Abraham Lincoln going to see their babies for the very first time. Look at this one. "I love my daddy." Aw. You just cannot beat that. Congratulations.

O'BRIEN: I think, Kyra, I think what -- this could sum up the day, that young mom you just talked to who said it really doesn't matter what we do so long as we're a family together again, or words to that effect. That really it up.

But tell you what, Frank Buckley has an interview he wants to share with us, Kyra.


O'BRIEN: Don't go too far away from those babies, though. I can't get enough of that.

PHILLIPS: Neither can I.

O'BRIEN: Frank Buckley -- no babies in sight up there, of course. But where are you now?

BUCKLEY: Miles, I've moved down from the flight deck. I'm into the hangar bay. And first let me show you the scene down here. Look at all these folks here, all these sailors in their dress whites, in their uniforms, carrying their sea bags, warriors coming home from war. All getting really to see their family members. Among them, PET2 (ph) Steven Scott (ph). You were telling me you have not seen your family in not just ten months but 12 months. How come?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I was at school for five months, I left in April, left my family in Spokane. And then right after Christmas, my wife, expecting us to be home in January, left and came back over to this side and then I had to call her three days later when we found out we were going to be turned around. She's been waiting for me patiently, which I appreciate. I love her to death.

BUCKLEY: And she's been patiently taking care of that 2-year-old and 6-year-old of yours. I know you can't wait to see them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're a handle. And, you know, I'm just going to come home, help her as much as I can, you know, just try to straighten things out, you know, through all the -- all the problems that happen with being gone for about a year.

BUCKLEY: She's probably got the house in ship shape and she'll be -- she'll have things running smoothly.

Miles, let me show you what Steven has here. Demir (ph), let's show Miles what Steven has. He's got two bouquets of roses with balloons, you've got your duffel bag here...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Full of stuff for the kids and the wife and family members. I've got some blankets, got my sea bag full of stuff for them, too. This is all for them. This is -- I'm home for them.

BUCKLEY: Good for you. And welcome home. And I hope that you get to see them soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure I will. I'm going to be getting off of here as soon as they let us go.

BUCKLEY: All righty. Thanks, buddy. And, I'll tell you, so many sailors experiencing the same emotions here that Steven Scott is feeling, can't wait to see the kids, can't wait to see his wife. And you can see they're decked out with all their stuff and ready to go -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right, Frank. Let's get Ed Brownlee back in here.

Ed, what's next? Obviously, just some good quality time with the family. But also, what is next for them on their career? How long do they typically say state side? How quickly could that next deployment come up?

BROWNLEE: Well what you can expect is the crew will get a chance to enjoy about a 30-day standdown. And what that allows is about 50 percent of the crew to go on leave and to spend some quality time with their families and their parents back home, and the friends.

And once that 30-day standdown period is complete, they'll probably have to go into some type of period where they off-load, you know, all the munitions, if they did bring any back from their deployment. And then they'll go back into some type of extended availability maintenance period where they'll do maintenance on some systems that need to be replaced. Just like rotating the tires, you do have to do some maintenance on some of the machinery.

After that availability, they'll start working up for the deployment, starting to do individual training and them training with the battle group, and then ultimately they'll deploy back overseas. And you know hopefully that period will be anywhere from 18 to 24 months before they have to pull the lines in again and deploy for six months.

O'BRIEN: Now typically, during that period of time, does the carrier remain pretty much moored? Are their sea trials? Are there any extended stays away or is that pretty much home time?

BROWNLEE: Well the first 30 days is pretty much home time. And then that availability is pretty much -- if it's availability, that maintenance availability, is in their home port, then they'll be able to stay home or they may have to go to another port.

But more than likely, I would have to assume, that they will do their long-term maintenance availability in Everett. And so during that period about three months, they may get under way once or twice, but for the most part they'll be in port.

Then when they start the workups, and that's when they'll start getting under way again for three weeks at a time or six weeks at a time, just to start to train, start to learn how to work together as a unit again, reintegrate the airwing into the ship. And it's probably about six months from now when they start doing the extensive times away from home port for training and exercises to prepare for the next deployment.

O'BRIEN: And of course you can't just leave a ship like this vacant. There's always a crew attached to it. Some of these men and women don't necessarily have leave today do they?

BROWNLEE: No. Like I said, the standdown allows about 50 percent of the crew to go away on leave while the other 50 percent will stay behind making sure that you know, watching the ship systems, making sure it's safe, during the normal routine that takes place on board a ship.

Plus, if you remember, a lot of the ship's company was allowed to go home when the ship pulled into Pearl Harbor and pulled into North Island last week. And, you know, they will be standing -- some of those watches, some of those duties, the first couple nights. So the 50 percent leave and those guys who -- and young ladies, who were able to leave the ship early, that's one reason why they did that, so they can relieve their crew who sailed the ship up to Everett.

O'BRIEN: And is that volunteer though, typically, or just people have to be selected and that's just part of the deal?

BROWNLEE: It's a little bit of both. It's a volunteer and those who are leaving the ship, especially those who left the ship in Pearl Harbor, they understand that they'll have duty and required to stand the watches and oversee the safety of the ship that first night or those first couple nights in.

So, yes, it is a volunteer, but it's also part of being able to depart the ship early, you know, while the ship was in pearl harbor.


Let's get back to Frank Buckley. I think he's found -- Kyra just a moment ago was with all the moms of new babies. He's found those dads who are -- well, they got some diapers waiting for them, don't they, Frank?

BUCKLEY: They sure do. Especially for the new dads who -- this is the first child. They're used to not getting a lot of sleep, but they haven't experienced a real lack of sleep until they've had kids. And so they're about to enjoy that.

Let me show you how many dads we're talking about. Look at this line back here, Miles. All the way up there, to the front where that admiral's barge is, that we talked about yesterday. This entire line here, they're all new dads, 150 new dads here, on the ship. And they're among the first that get to go off. The first kissers get to go off, then these new dads.

And we've got three of them to talk to us right here with us. Let's introduce you to David Dickard (ph) here. David, you were telling me that you've got some stuff for your 1-month-old. What are some of the things you've brought home?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well from Australia we picked up this koala bear. We got each of my boys a boomerang. And then earlier in Hawaii so I decided to pick up a brand-new outfit. Pull it out for you.

BUCKLEY: All right, look at that. Luau shirt. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were in Hawaii for that week, we decided to pick him up some new clothes, even comes with its own little pants.

BUCKLEY: Excellent. Tell me what your -- I was talking to the three of you guys. We also have Rusty Steiner (ph) and Michael Atkins (ph) here. And the three of you were telling me that your children were born so recently that if you hadn't had to turn around and go back to the Gulf, you would have been here in time for the births of your children. Was it difficult that time in January when they said you've got to turn around?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was, a little bit of mental, physical, because you're on the fly deck working so much and having to stay out longer was kind of hard. But you got to pull through, do what you can, just hope for best and we did make it home so we will see our sons for the first time.

BUCKLEY: Rusty, you've got a 2 1/2-month-old waiting for you when you get home. Tell me what you're experiencing and felling right now as you wait to look at this little child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anxiety, lots of anxiety. I'm so excited, but I'm scared. I just want to get it over with, get out there and see him for the first time.

BUCKLEY: And Michael Atkins. Michael's daughter is 7-weeks-old. Michael, this is your first child. We were joking just a moment ago that you guys know in the Navy what it's like not to sleep that much. But you haven't been around a 7-week-old to change those diapers in the middle of the night. Are you ready to pull that overnight duty?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to get used to that right now, you know? I've gotten used to working up on the flight deck but now it's time to get used to waking up, cleaning dirty diapers and all that.

BUCKLEY: Mom has already told you you have to stand some watch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, oh, yes.

BUCKLEY: Tell me what -- this, being your first child, I know that you probably hated missing that birth. And I'm sure the mom hated that you missed the birth. How have you dealt with that and talked about that period?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just understand it was something that I had to do. We got called to go back over there, so just had to get over it pretty much.

BUCKLEY: Think it will be an emotional moment for you -- and I'll ask all you guys, when you see that baby for the first time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes it will. It's going to be a great feeling.

BUCKLEY: Rusty, what about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to the most amazing experience of my life. I know that. One of them.

BUCKLEY: How about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't normally cry but I probably will today.

BUCKLEY: I'm sure a lot of people will. We appreciate your time, guys, thanks very much.

Again, more of that sacrifice, Miles, that we hear about so often from these young men and women who are out here as well, who have had to miss so many things in their lives. And finally, they're going to be home to experience those important life moments -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Frank, we are inside a minute to -- a moment where we have to step aside and listen to the president for about four minutes. He met with the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

But before we do that, I just wanted to ask you, they were talking about -- you were talking about how hard the work is on board the vessel. Inside 30 seconds, what's a typical day like there? Are they on duty seven days a week, and how long?

BUCKLEY: Yes, a typical day is definitely a -- it's a seven day a week cycle that they work. Depends if they're night flight or day flight. But revelry probably 6 a.m., breakfast, and then work all day. Taps at about 10:00 p.m., meaning that's when they go to bed.

So it's not uncommon for there to be a 12-hour day or 16-hour day or even longer when we were out on the Gulf during the wartime period. So these guys work and work and then work some more. It's amazing.

O'BRIEN: All right let's go to the Oval Office for just a moment, Frank Buckley. We're going to look at some tape which is being fed right now in the White House pool. The president of the United States having met with the secretary of defense. Let's listen.


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