BAUMHOLDER, Germany — They fought tangles of traffic to get here, then stood in long, slow-moving lines to pass through metal detectors.

Once through, they. huddled on a hillside, feet planted in cold mud and damp grass, and squinted through the fog toward the podium. Some sat on blankets, cuddling babies closely.

Some of the more than 3,000 visitors and military family members who came to see President Clinton address the soldiers of the 1st Armd Div. carried welcoming signs and waved American flags.

And between them and the podium stood 4300 soldiers — men and women gathered to hear their commander in chief tell them, in person, that he was sending them on what could be a long and dangerous mission to the former Yugoslavia.

First Lt. Eliud Diaz and 2nd Lt. Jason Thomas eagerly awaited the president's arrival and said it would raise morale.

"I think it shows he cares about them and their welfare," Thomas said.

Both men said they supported the deployment to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"I think I will be happy in the future," Diaz said, "to tell my son that I helped when people needed our help."

But there were others among those gathered at Baumholder on Saturday who seemed less supportive both of the president and of the planned deployment.

Eight-year-old Tanja Heffner waited in a long line with her mother to pass through a metal detector. She said she wasn't excited about seeing Clinton. In fact, she was mad at the president.

"He's sending my dad to Bosnia," she said. "And he's already been to one of these things. He went to Haiti and he just came back."

Tanja said she prefers having her father at home, where he sometimes reads books to her and often makes her feel better when something hurts.

Many of the family members of the soldiers who waited in line to pass through the metal detector expressed mixed feelings about Clinton's decision to send their spouses, friends and parents to Bosnia.

"I guess it's OK for my husband to go," said 25-yearold Kandis Payne. "I think, in my heart, Clinton wouldn't let them go if they didn't need to be there. I just hope Congress will be supportive. It won't be good to have all those guys going if Congress doesn't support it."

"Yes, I feel bad that my husband is going," said Petra Howe, who spoke of her four children and the likelihood that her husband will leave before Christmas.

"But who else would do it?" she asked. "The U.S. has good equipment and is well-trained."

It helps, Howe said, to know that the NATO soldiers will be able to defend themselves against aggressors.

"They won't be like the U.N. and just stand there with their hands tied," she said.

During his speech, Clinton emphasized the fact that soldiers will be well-aimed and encouraged to defend themselves "immediately and with decisive force."

The soldiers responded with cries of "hoo-aah," the traditional Army cheer. The families applauded.

"I heard exactly what I wanted to hear," said Pfc. Detina Douglas. ""We'll be heavily armed. We'll be taken care of."

Douglas, a 21-year-old soldier from Mississippi, said she doesn't know how her parents feel about her impending deployment to Bosnia.

"Uh, they don't know yet," she said. "I'll tell them. Eventually."

Second: Lt. Dianna Zito said she was pleased wish Clinton's speech.

"I 'think it was very supportive;" she said "It put the soldiers at ease, to finally hear it from his mouth."

Zito said she was apprehensive about the deployment "because of all the mines. But as a soldier," she said, "this is my job. And I feel strongly about it.

Pvt. 2 Michael Hebert, a 22-year-old tank mechanic from Michigan, expressed similar feelings about his duty as a soldier.

"It would be inconceivable for us not to play a part (in the NATO peace enforcement mission)," he said.

Pfc. Robert Farley, a 23-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn., seemed to think all the talk about duty might be hiding another, more basic emotion.

"Confess," he said to Hebert. "You're scared. Everybody is. I'm very scared to go to Bosnia. A lot of people don't admit it, but it's a very scary thing."

"It's our job, though," Hebert said.

"Yeah," Farley said. "It is. That's why I enlisted." .

Melissa Gammage and Alicia Gloss, young mothers who are wives of deploying soldiers, said they didn't feel good after Clinton's speech.

"Our morale is low," Gloss said as she and Gammage left the grassy hill. "I respect him as president, but he doesn't even have a military background."

"And, he'll be home with his family at Christmas," Gammage added.

Gammage objected to the president's assertion that the 1st Armd Div was well-prepared for the mission.

"They are not well-trained," she said. "My husband works with land mines. They sent him home with a book. That's it."

Her husband doesn't complain though, Gammage said. "He's all 'hoo-aah' about it."

Tanja Heffner, the 8-year-old who wanted her father to stay home for a while, had tears in her eyes and said after the speech that she was sorry she had come.

"My feet are freezing," she said.

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