Military disc jockey does his part with tunes for Desert Storm troops

January 23, 1991|By Bob Banta | Bob Banta,Cox News Service

In Saudi Arabia, where the night skies blaze with exploding Iraqi missiles, Army Spec. Milton Hope fires back with songs of humor and love.

His targets are the hearts and minds of American soldiers in the Middle East, and so far his aim has been better than Saddam Hussein's.

Hope, a graduate of San Antonio's Roosevelt High School, is a disc jockey with Armed Forces Radio, working the 9 9 a.m. shift.

"We've got something for every soldier over here," he said in a telephone interview from his broadcast van in Saudi Arabia. "We play country, rock, soul, fast songs, slow songs -- something to appease everybody.

"A lot of military units will rib each other by dedicating weird songs to other units," he said. "A big favorite is a rock song called 'We Are the Champions' by Queen. One unit will dedicate it to another, and that unit will respond by dedicating something like Dolly Parton's '9 to 5.' It's a jocular exchange over the air waves."

Hope, 34, said the most poignant part of his job is playing dedications from spouses or sweethearts who mail or phone requests from the United States.

Song dedications can be sent to Desert Storm Network, Operation Desert Storm, USCENTCOM/CCPA-AFRTS, APO New York, 09852.

"Their favorites are love songs and ballads," he said. "They'll dedicate Richard Marx's 'Right Here Waiting' to their husbands over here. They also want Bette Midler's 'From A Distance' and 'Wind Beneath My Wings'."

Because of heavy security, the disc jockey cannot say exactly where his studio is situated, but he broadcasts from a 7-by-10-foot mobile van.

"There is a little nervousness here," he said of the personnel who work at the studio on wheels. "Whenever any sort of alarm goes off, your heart races a little faster. I have something more to accomplish in life than to have anything happen to me over here. But we are all together in this thing."

Hope, who broadcasts with a gas mask and protective clothing stacked near his microphone, is part of the Armed Forces Network that carries television signals to TV sets at troop installations.

Because the Saudi society is rooted in strict religious and traditional standards, American situation comedies and similar shows are not aired for service personnel.

"We are very careful not to offend Saudi sensitivities," he said. "We used to carry a lot of network sports shows for the troops. But since the crisis, the main thing we've been showing is war coverage over ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN -- the same stuff you're watching in the States."

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