Red carpet rolled out for soldier Soldier from Baltimore attends gala.

April 18, 1991|By Kate McKenna | Kate McKenna,States News Service

WASHINGTON -- Less than 48 hours after returning from the Persian Gulf, Army Sgt. Paulette McDuffie was flown to the nation's capital for an all-star welcome from Defense Secretary Richard Cheney, Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and various celebrities.

McDuffie, a Baltimorean, was one of a few hundred members of the services picked at random to take part in Tuesday night's "Salute to the Men and Women of the Desert Storm Campaign" at the Washington Hilton.

"We're going to see the show and then head out on the town," said McDuffie, a personnel administrator and 1984 graduate of Baltimore's Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. She was accompanied by Barbara Tony of Baltimore, who had helped raise McDuffie since she was a teen-ager.

McDuffie also was accompanied by the only other member of her unit flown up for the gala from Fort Stewart, Ga., -- her husband of nearly two years, Spec. Michael McDuffie. She kept track of personnel deployed during the ground war and he kept supplies moving to tanks at the front.

The McDuffies were among about 250 members of the Army, Navy and Air Force who were given free tickets and accommodations for the festivities. Tickets otherwise were sold to benefit the Armed Forces Relief Fund, which helps service families left in financial straits because of the gulf war.

During the salute, celebrities Morgan Freeman, Meredith Baxter Birney and Colleen Dewhurst read letters from Desert Storm soldiers.

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