101st Timeline Living History Society
Bunkers are a reassurance when in Scud missile range

By CHANTAL ESCOTO, The (Clarksville) Leaf-Chronicle
4 March 2003


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Any normal-brained person would flee Iraq, considering the world situation, and stay warm in her bed, surrounded by a loving family not travel halfway around the world as the only woman with an infantry unit, living out of a sleeping bag in a dust storm.

Oh, did I mention that we here at ''Camp Pennsylvania'' are eating and sleeping not more than 400 miles away from the ''Butcher of Baghdad''?

I'm told we're within Scud missile range, so it's comforting to know that there are really thick cement bunkers with lots of sandbags on top about every 100 feet or so.

Just like the soldiers we're traveling with, those of the 1st Battalion of the 327th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, I had the same sadness when I had to say goodbye to my family Saturday. Then it was ''hurry up and wait'' as we waited for our plane to take off.

Sitting around the airfield hangar was not a real fun way to spend a Saturday, but I did get to talk to some of the guys I'd be spending the next few weeks with.

Forces Command commander Gen. Larry R. Ellis visited before we took off from Fort Campbell on Saturday. Man, that guy could go head-to-head with Anthony Robbins in a motivational speaker contest.

Ellis has a compelling way of grabbing your attention, and he had a little fun with the soldiers at the same time.

For example, he would stand outside, by the smoking section, and bust those soldiers ready to whip out cigarettes, telling them how it's bad for their health. Then he wanted me to write down their names and write a story about these hard-core smokers and their foolish ways.

I know he was kidding, but I hope he didn't think these guys were going to give up the habit right before deploying to a combat zone in the Middle East.

Our flight overseas wasn't too bad, and I was kind of surprised that it took only 17 hours.

Where else but on a commercial plane full of infantry soldiers carrying machine guns, rifles and mortar tubes would you hear the pilot say this:

''Welcome to World Airways and we hope you enjoy your flight. I just would like to remind you to place your weapons under your seats with the butts of the weapon facing the aisle under the metal bar.

''Again, on behalf of the flight crew we hope you enjoy your flight to Kuwait.''

Could you imagine if you heard that on a regular international flight? We thought it was pretty funny.

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