Marylanders In The Gulf 'The cold reality hits you in the face' Duty calls woman to a hostile land

December 30, 1990|By Spc. T. Ann McElroy | Spc. T. Ann McElroy,Special to The Sun

17-Dec-90. 0900.

We've been in Saudi Arabia for over 24 hours now -- it's like livinin a dust bowl. Chalk everywhere. . . . If you had any misconceptions about what's going to take place, or what the U.S. forces and the other allied forces were building up for, the moment you stepped off the plane, the cold reality of prewar tTC preparations hits you in the face like a brick wall. Every form of noisemaker, gun, anything that would make an explosion and harm humans was represented. Reality set in. . . . We drove to the company's "new" site, "Trailer Park." The trailers used to be used as latrines, so we had to literally scrape the s - - - off the floors and walls. 290th's new home!

I met my first Muslim. He wanted to feel my chest. Requesdenied. I came to learn later that the same individual had the same idea with another female from the battalion. I've now been warned females travel in pairs. . . .

After the trucks were unloaded . . . drove back to Cement City, holding area used to house incoming soldiers until final destinations have been determined. It is a tent city located at an abandoned cement block factory -- thus the name and the dust.

I had my first shower this morning. It lasted about 2 1/2 minutesLong enough to get wet and put soap on my body, then rinse. It took about 10 minutes after my shower until I was covered in dust again. Why bother, I wonder. I have to have something to look forward to.

Breakfast this morning was the best meal in a few days -- instanoatmeal.

What I would do for a little bit of Western civilization. The food ieh. Anything non-perishable from home would be awesome. I'll have to write my dad for that one.


17-Dec-90. 2200 hrs.

We moved in to the Trailer Park tonight. The men have it thworst. My room has 10 females. It's not bad, but the men have 13 to 15 per room. Beds are right next to each other with no space between them.

The cultural differences between the Saudis and the Americanare the biggest problem, restrictions about what must be worn. .


On the 19th of December we had our perimeter staging exerciseWe lay in the sand for about two hours. I got attacked by sand flies. I've got bites on both legs, both arms, my body and neck. Our weapons got filthy dirty. My .45 was jammed with sand. Now my .45 has a plastic bag around the barrel and a handkerchief stuffed up the grip. My M-16 has a plastic cap over the muzzle and handkerchief stuffed up the magazine port. . . . Spc. Ron Spears also put a combat sling on my weapon for me. It's much easier to carry for long periods of time now.

In the afternoon, Laura Clark, my battle buddy, and I washed oulaundry in a bucket. The water buffalo [a water tank truck] ran out of water so we had no rinse water but at least our clothes are clean now.

Today I drove half of the platoon to the military air base. On thway, there was a roadblock by Saudi police. They were checking IDs for terrorists.

When we got to the air base we had to mask [put on gamasks]. This was our first Scud [surface-to-surface missile] threat. It was only a scare. Thank God or Allah!

I heard our company got mail today. Something to look forwarto but also it can depress the hell out of you.

Only five people got mail. Mail is the biggest morale boostehere. Everything else is survival. But with some of these people it's a lot of fun.


21-Dec-90. 20:10.

I made the second PX run today . . . I saw some seriounon-drivers. On my second run, I passed a pickup truck flipped over with the driver stuck in it. However if these people didn't drive so crazy, accidents like today's wouldn't happen.

Today was also my first sandstorm. Those are hard to drive in awell.



Yesterday, the press arrived. Familiar faces with the latest worfrom home. Most of the day we worked on our perimeter fighting positions. . . . The water table is only about 14 inches below the surface.So our positions don't go too deep. The wet sand here is very annoying. It sticks to everything. We track it in our trailer all day and all night. [We] sweep this place out about six times a day and each time we pull out about a pound of sand.

Christmas is only two days away. You'd never know hereHowever [it] could be better that way -- out of sight out of mind.

We read in Stars and Stripes yesterday that Bush is ready fowar. He says he's ready to kick Saddam's ass. As an American I'm with him 100 percent.

As a soldier here in Saudi facing the threat of chemical war, I'with him 100 percent and terrified. I'm only 23 years old. That's a little young to die. I am proud to be here. And I took an oath that I would die for what my country represents, stands for and believes. I will defend.

But we are all human. I don't want to be a name on stone. I don'want to be a picture in my father's office.

I'm for taking out Hussein's offense. . . . But I don't want U.Sforces to die before we can kick butt and come home.

Desert diary

Spc. T. Ann McElroy, 23, of Kensington is a member of the 290th Military Police Company, a Towson-based unit stationed in Saudi Arabia.

A graduate of Walt Whitman High School, she joined the National Guard in March after a two-year stint in the Army.

Specialist McElroy was about to begin classes at the NeEngland Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt., when her unit was called to active duty Nov. 15.

She is keeping a diary of her experiences there. The Sun will carry excerpts from her journal from time to time.

This is the first

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