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Soldier gets two weeks with newborn before redeployment

Luke Thomas Plant Jr. arrived in the world on a very distinctive day, Sept. 11, 2003, while his father served in the U.S. Army in Iraq.

His father, Luke T. Plant Sr. did not meet his son until Oct. 3 when he arrived home on leave from Iraq.

He found out of his impending fatherhood just days before being deployed.

To leave his wife of four years, Carrie, was tough indeed.

"We were moving to Germany and found out she was pregnant," he said. "When I deployed from Germany to Iraq, she came back home to the states to be with her family."

Knowing his wife's condition made it rough on the sergeant, who remained focus on his duty.

"It's very hard on the soldier," he said.

"You have to think about family and you have to stay focused on your job.

You have to stay focused on the other soldiers."

Plant said he would write letters home whenever he had the free time, call when he could and never passed a chance to email his wife when near a computer.

Carrie Plant remained focus ed in her own way, because she knew it was up to her to have a healthy son waiting for his daddy when he returned.

"It was tough going to the doctor without him," she said.

"Luckily, we found out the sex of the baby before he deployed.

In Germany, you have an ultrasound on each doctor's visit so that was good he knew that."

She said one thing she wished her husband had experienced was when the baby's movements were visible to the outside world.

"You could see the baby move beginning about two weeks after he left," she said.

"I came home a month after he left so I could be with my family."

The Big Day

On the day Infant Plant arrived, his father got special permission to be near a phone throughout the day.

"It was a very long day," he said.

"I found out about his birth a couple of hours after it happened."

Carrie Plant, who is a self-professed "military brat," said the day was a long one.

She ended up having a Caesarean Section and they couldn't let her husband know that.

"After it was over, we sent him a Red Cross message," she said.

"I didn't get to talk to him until a day later."

Homecoming

Plant left Iraq and finally arrived in Atlanta.

He said he stayed excited all the way and that the flight home was memorable.

"I was excited the entire flight," he said.

"I talked to the stewardesses who wanted to know all about the baby when I told them I was coming home to see him for the first time.

I showed them all a computer printout of a picture of him."

He said their reaction was similar to others on his journey home.

"People would walk up and tell me thank you,' from Atlanta to Savannah," he said.

"It made me really proud to know they supported the troops and the work we are doing."

On his arrival at the airport, the flight crew let him off the plane first so he could get to his family.

"I got there and they had a huge Welcome Home Daddy' banner and his birth announcement," he said.

Carrie Plant said her husband's homecoming was beautiful.

"He came in and beat us there practically," she said.

"They rushed him here."

Leaving again

On Friday, the Plants returned to Savannah where they will spend quality family time until Oct. 18.

Then he leaves again for Iraq where he will continue his work as a munitions specialist.

The 1994 graduate of Greenville High School continues his career with the Army.

He said the work they do is vital to Iraq's freedom and that despite most reports, the Iraqis are glad to have them there.

"They are glad to be rid of Saddam (Hussein)," he said.

"One of the guys working with us had his ear cut off by Saddam because he was accusing of talking about him.

He's really glad to see him gone."

On leaving, he said he and his wife are prepared for it.

"It's going to be hard leaving them again," he said.

"This is what I do and she is very supportive of me.

She has been with me my whole career."

Now with a new son, he hopes to stay in closer touch.

"We will try to keep in touch whenever we can,' he said.

"I'll miss them but the reunion phase is awesome."