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Iraq Veteran Reunites With Family During Bowl Game Halftime Show

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 2005 – When Tresa McCormick, and sons Aiden, Brennon and Conor walked onto the football field at this year's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, they thought they were there to help raise money for charity.

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Tresa McCormick and her three children were surprised on New Year's Day during halftime of the 34th annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., when she was reunited with her husband, Army Staff Sgt. James McCormick, who is deployed to Iraq, and their three sons, Aiden, Brennon and Conor. Tresa believed she was attending the game to participate in a halftime 'throw for charity' benefiting the Unite Service Organizations. Courtesy Photo

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They were.

But then, before thousands of cheering fans, their husband and father, Army Staff Sgt. James McCormick, who they had not seen for nearly a year, paid them a surprise visit on the field in Tempe, Ariz.

The ruse was part of the Fiesta Bowl's "Family Connections" halftime show. Bowl organizers had coordinated with the Army to bring McCormick home from duty in Iraq for a surprise visit.

During a tearful reunion, McCormick kissed and embraced his wife and his boys. He then thanked the Army and bowl organizers for making the event possible. "Besides being married and having kids," he said. "This kinda takes it, this is awesome."

McCormick said he knew about the surprise visit for over a week, and keeping it a secret was one of the hardest things he's ever had to do. "She's my best friend, and I couldn't tell her anything," he said.

During brief comments on the field, McCormick also thanked the public for their support of American servicemembers serving in Iraq and elsewhere.

"I can't tell you how good it feels when somebody just comes up to me in the airport and just pats me on the back to say, 'Thank you,'" he said. "That means a lot."

He said his comrades overseas are doing a "great job."

"A lot of people don't see all the sacrifices that they are making out there, the long hours, the 14- (and) 20-hour days, sometimes back to back," he said. "Those guys are busting their humps, and they are doing the right thing, and they truly are American heroes - we need to be proud of them."

During the halftime show, the bowl's organizer gave Tresa a chance to throw a football though a target on field in an effort to win $50,000 for the United Service Organizations.

Her throw fell short of the target, but the USO won out anyway. Fiesta Bowl organizers donated $25,000 to the organization to help provide servicemembers with morale, welfare and recreation-type programs, such as the USO Phone Home program, which provides calling cards to servicemembers overseas to help keep them connected to families back home.

McCormick, an Apache helicopter mechanic with Company D, 1st Battalion, 227 Aviation Regiment, 1st Calvary Division, deployed to Iraq in February 2004 and is expected to return home in March. This is his second deployment to Iraq.

Bowl organizers also recognized the Defense Department's America Supports You program for its efforts to highlight citizen support for the country's armed forces.

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Related Sites:
America Supports You program
1st Cavalry Division

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Staff Sgt. James McCormick and his wife, Tresa, are reunited after before more than 73,000 fans and millions on national television at the New Year's Day Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.  
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