101st Timeline Living History Society
Sandstorms fierce; soldiers are jewels

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


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CAMP PENNSYLVANIA, Kuwait: If you ever thought about getting dermabrasion, just save your money and come to Kuwait.

Not only will you lose the first two to three layers of skin if you expose your face to a violent sandstorm, but the tiny grains will stick inside your pores, giving you the appearance of a clear face.

Yes, you may need corneal implants for your eyes after it's over, too, but it's the price to pay for beauty.

But really, I've never seen anything like the wind and sand here in the Kuwaiti desert.

When I was in Afghanistan last year with the 101st Airborne Division, the grit and sand just kind of appeared out of nowhere. It was everywhere, but you never knew where it was coming from.

But here you can see the stuff coming like a Mack truck slamming down the highway at 100 mph. When it hits, it hits hard.

When I first experienced one of these sandstorms, it felt like NFL linebackers had surrounded my tent and were doing a little preseason training by charging into it. What makes it worse is the little wind whip we had yesterday will be nothing to the one expected tomorrow.

Having no sense of direction doesn't help me in the desert especially at night.

After spending several hours trying to get our satellite phone to work, it was about 3 a.m. when we were ready to pack and head for some shut-eye.

The problem is that my tent is about 500 yards away from the main unit, so I asked a soldier who just finished guard duty to escort me. About an hour and five miles later, we ended up back where we started. It wasn't his fault, because he had no idea where I was staying.

I mean, for goodness' sake, everything looks the same, and there are hardly any landmarks.

Then you factor in the pitch-black night, plus Murphy's law, and you've got a miserable night. I had to sleep in the command center, which probably didn't go over well with the higher-ups.

If it makes them feel any better, my night's sleep was miserable.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Despite the conditions, there are some jewels in the desert once the sand clears, and those are the soldiers.

It's great to see them generally in good spirits even though they rag on the place, but that's what soldiers do. I see such camaraderie and caring for one another. They really look out for one another, and that's good to see, especially in a society that mostly looks out for No. 1. I think they're glad to be here because this is what they trained for.

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