Morale Sinks As Troops Miss Home

U.S. soldier McGowan misses his wife, Byron pitts reports. CBS

From foot patrols to convoys, for America's sons and daughters at war in Iraq, there is now simply no escaping the daily encounters with danger and death, reports CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts.

Capt. Todd McGowan, who arrived in Iraq in April, is one of thousands of soldiers still struggling with an ever-evolving roll -- from soldier to peacekeeper.

"How is morale? Morale? What's that?" asks McGowan. "These guys, they're scouts, they're re-con. They not doing re-con they're not doing their job. They're doing a cop's job."

It's skepticism that's seeped all the way home.

McGowan's wife Tracy, who lives in Dallas, says, "I don't think anybody can possibly understand what it's like to be without your spouse for an entire year."

"You don't know what's happening on a daily basis and they're in a danger zone, they're in a war zone," she says. "People are dying every single day."

Each day brings new arrests, putting the troops one day closer to Saddam Hussein – and one day closer to going home.

"You want to get your mission done," says Capt. McGowan. "And who wants to leave with unfinished business? Nobody wants to do that."

Capt. McGowan spends what little down time he has staring at sweat-stained snap shots of the life he left behind.

"There are days when you don't even want to get out of bed sometimes," he says. "You just lay in your cot and say, 'Gosh I'd do anything to be home with my wife.'"

The McGowans have talked by satellite phone a few times.

The conversation usually starts and ends with the words, "I love you."

In between, McGowan's wife says, "Stay safe. Come home in one piece."
  • Melissa Cheung

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