Special Reports

The boy with the dead pigeon

The other day we went with some Idaho soldiers to a soccer stadium that is serving as a refugee camp for Kurdish people.

As we were driving into the camp a little boy started running just as fast as he could to catch the Humvee, which is not uncommon here. The difference was that this boy was carrying a dead pigeon. Apparently it was his toy.

We got out of the vehicle. Children gathered around to have their picture taken like they usually do. The boy with the pigeon was there and he held it up for me to take a picture.

A few minutes later the soldiers brought out a box with some coloring books, crayons and some candy provided by folks back home through Operation Crayon.

A few of the adults organized the kids into a line. But that only lasted about 30 seconds. As soon as the soldiers started passing out the toys the line turned into a delighted, squealing sea of swinging, reaching arms. The little boy dropped his pigeon to reach in for a coloring book.

When the box was empty, the soldiers told the kids "no more." The kids seemed to understand because they began to back off.

Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed a little boy who looked to be about 3, who wasn't big enough to fight the crowd for a coloring book.

He kind of stared up at the other kids for a moment, then he noticed the dead bird on the ground. He picked up the pigeon and walked away hugging it.

— Kim Hughes

The Pruett brothers got a little family reunion at FOB Warrior in Kirkuk compliments of CNN.

The four Pruetts of Pocatello got national attention last June when the 116th got called to duty for Iraq. They are stationed at three different bases around Kirkuk. There are six members of the Pruett family who have served in Iraq.

Second Lt. Eric, 26, and Spec. Evan, 23, are at FOB Warrior at the Kirkuk Regional Air Base; Spec. Jeff, 19, is at Patrol Base Barbarian inside Kirkuk; and Spec. Greg, 23, is at FOB Gains Mills southwest of Kirkuk.

Their father, Capt. Leon Pruett of Pocatello, and their brother, Aaron, had just completed a year in Iraq when the 116th was called up last June. CNN featured the family during a 10-minute segment with Paula Zahn that showed them at home in Pocatello and standing for muster at Emmett.

CNN plans an update for May, and the husband-wife CNN team of photographer David Allbritton and reporter Alex Quade were in Kirkuk filming the segment earlier this week. CNN plans to run it in May.

Monday was the first time the Pruett borthers had all seen each other since since December, and probably the last time before they leave Iraq. And if it wasn't for the CNN team, it probably wouldn't have happened.

"There was no way I was going to get all the way to Warrior," Greg said. "But when CNN came, they (his superiors) said go ahead."

While they're all working around Kirkuk, they're having different experiences. Jeff and Eric are constantly going "outside the wire" on patrols into Kirkuk. During his visit, Greg got to go out on a patrol with Eric.

Their various attitudes have to do with who depends on them back home.

"I'm single, so I can't wait to get off the FOB," Greg said. "It would have been cool if we all could have gone out on a mission together."

Evan who works as a mechanic, didn't mind being left behind. "I just had a kid, so I don't care if I never leave the FOB," he said.

They're looking forward to the next TV segment. CNN followed them to Fort Bliss, Texas, during training last summer, and that footage also will be used in the segment.

"I'm sure my parents will like seeing all of us on TV together," Greg said.

— Roger Phillips

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