Mideast Notebook: Rare treat for some, resort life for others
March 9, 2003
Enlisted sailors on the USS Kitty Hawk are huffed about where they can puff.
Last week, leadership on the aircraft carrier closed one of three smoking areas because the smell reached the staterooms. So enlisted sailors are lining up in the hangar for as long as 45 minutes to get their fix.
However, there’s no queue at the smoking area designated for chiefs or officers on the Yokosuka, Japan-based carrier, which is underway in the northern Arabian Gulf.
Scream for ice cream
The carrier’s enlisted sailors did have something to smile about Friday.
“Gimme some ice cream!” cried Airman Orlando Jordan, an elevator operator.
While chiefs indulge in ice cream every Saturday and officers have a soft-serve machine, enlisted sailors have seen the dessert just once since getting underway Jan. 20.
Word spread as fast as it does when hot wings and pizza are on the menu. The sailors lined up to devour more than 300 gallons of cookies-and-cream, pistachio, vanilla and Rocky Road ice cream.
While Jordan danced away from line with his ice cream, he just poked at the mystery meat with his fork. “Man, what is this? It looks like rooster dog.”
Let’s TP Iraq!
Never, ever underestimate the home front.
After a notebook item two weeks ago wryly commenting on the scarcity of that essential of essentials, toilet paper, the folks back home came through.
11th Aviation Regiment soldiers suddenly started getting care boxes with two, three, even four packages of toilet paper inside. This has been a welcome, though puzzling, turn of events for most soldiers.
As Mideast Notebook readers know, Stars and Stripes rarely reaches most troops at Camp Udairi. They didn’t see the news item, and some were wondering if the families back home could read their minds (or maybe were trying to send some message about personal hygiene).
And also thanks to the folks in Germany, 11th Aviation soldiers at Camp Udairi also will soon be eating better.
Word has reached Camp Udairi that the front-page photos of the dining-facility inferno touched the families in Illesheim, Germany, 11th Aviation’s home base. They swarmed upon the little commissary and, we hear, scoured the shelves clean.
“All the wives were buying snack food, necessities,” said Sgt. 1st Class Derek Likes, 34, of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., who stayed behind in Illesheim with his wife, Carla, for the birth of their daughter, Maggie Claire, last week. “Stuff is flying off the shelves.”
Likes, of the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment’s Bravo Troop, brought five footlockers full of food and snacks when he arrived in Kuwait on Wednesday.
He said much, much more food (and, of course, toilet paper) is on its way downrange in individual care packages.
“We could TP Iraq if we wanted,” Likes joked. “They’re definitely looking out for the guys.”
Kuwaitis ready for war
Kuwait continues to make preparations for what it views as an inevitable war in neighboring Iraq.
Officials from the Ministry of Information said that, when war breaks out, the Kuwaiti Stock Exchange will cease trading to prevent panic selling or opportunism.
Kuwaiti officials are extremely worried about the economic impact of a war, even though the presence of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops is bringing the kind of financial benefits that Turkey rejected when it voted against hosting American combat troops.
Additionally, the Kuwaiti government announced it would begin distributing ration cards to noncitizen residents. The cards will be used for everything from gas to food to the exchange of foreign currency for Kuwaiti dinars.
Lap of luxury
While most troops sweat — or, when the sun goes down, freeze — out in desert camps, some soldiers are living the life of Riley.
The Coalition Press Information Center, a media headquarters staffed mostly by public affairs officials from U.S.-based units, has popped up in a beachside resort hotel south of Kuwait City.
Because of security concerns, the CPIC soldiers are not allowed to leave the hotel and are “required” to eat at the hotel’s buffet restaurant. The buffet normally runs 15 Kuwaiti dinar, or a little over $45.
E-mail Steve Liewer in Kuwait at: email@example.com; e-mail Kendra Helmer aboard the USS Kitty Hawk at: firstname.lastname@example.org; e-mail Joseph Giordono in Kuwait at: email@example.com