FORT CAMPBELL, KY. — A thick steak, an ice-cold beer and no flies are Dale E. Warehime's idea of a perfect meal.
After four months battling sand, scorpions, snakes and flies and eating Army rations, the 24-year-old private first class finally ordered that dinner Wednesday,in the company of his father and stepmother.
"We all got tired of MRE's (meals ready to eat)," he said. "Even when we had real food, it was usually made from dehydrated stuff."
Karl and Linda Warehime had driven to Kentucky from Westminster to meet Dale, a member of the 584th Maintenance Co., on his arrival from Saudi Arabia.
Although the unit, whose primary responsibility was radio communications,was never engaged in combat, members did a lot of struggling against the elements, he said.
Scorpions overran the campsites, he said. The soldiers often saw sand vipers, a poisonous snake whose bite must be excised immediately,"squirming around." One man in the company stepped out of his truck and onto a viper's head.
"Stepping on the snake's head saved the guy's life, or at least a chunk of his leg," he said.
Nothing was as bothersome as the ever-present biting flies, though.
"The flies were so bad, much worse than I ever saw in Carroll County," he said. "We spent the whole meal shooing them away from the food."
Warehime wasn't too keen on camels, either. One soldier tried to ride a camel lying on the ground nearthe camp. What followed was a rodeo.
"That camel reared right up and threw the guy on the ground so fast," he said. "He could have broken a lot of bones."
Warehime spent most of his time in the gulf moving north from Saudi Arabia into Iraq. He said he always thought the war would end quickly.
"I figured once the war started, it wouldn't take long for us to end it," he said. "We had a much stronger force."
The only times that he feared for his safety were when he heard but couldn't see planes overhead.
The company saw its share of enemy soldiers, he said, but most of them were prisoners of war, "thousands of them."
Once his company started to move south again, he said, he knew they would soon be on their way back to the United States. He said everyone wants "out of there ASAP."
"It's so differentover there," he said. "Even the air is dry and has a different smell."
Warehime, a 1984 graduate of Westminster High School, didn't decide to join the Army until a year ago. His mother, Brenda Webb, saidshe was surprised but supported his decision.
The only time she had any doubts, she said, came when he called Dec. 13 to say he was boarding a plane for the gulf.
"That was the most terrible feeling, to know he was going to fight," she said.
Warehime has another three years to go on his enlistment. For now, he will remain in Kentucky, where he hopes to continue training in communications and taking some courses at a nearby college.
But, first he'll spend some leave time in Westminster. He's expected to arrive there this week and catch up with family and friends and try to recapture his bowling skills.His mother said she doesn't think he'll be visiting Ocean City this trip.
"He told me he has had enough sand to last a lifetime," she said.
A Scorpions, flies, vipers private's biggest foes