During World War II I was stationed with the U.S. Army in the Persian Gulf (not far from the present mobilization) for 2 1/2 years. In my diary I kept notations on the weather. A few of them follow to show what the troops are exposed to now:
"July 22, 1943: The heat is now terrific. The ground is so hot it burns through the soles of one's shoes and blisters his feet. Everything exposed to the sun is too hot to touch. Our cots absorb so much heat that it is like sleeping on a stove. The temperature today reached 122 degrees in the shade.
"May 5, 1944: Terrific winds and dust storms. This is the beginning of the period known as 'The Forty Days,' during which the winds blow violently every day.
"May 13, 1944: Tonight we had the worst dust storm I have ever seen in 16 months here. Outside the dust was so thick one could not see two feet in front of himself. In our quarters we had all windows and doors shut tight, yet the dust permeated through and everything was coated with inches of it.
"July 2, 1944: The official shade temperature today was 127 degrees, which is the highest temperature recorded since I've been here."
In all the newspaper and TV pictures I've seen of the current mobilization, I have yet to see anyone wearing a sun helmet. Where are they? U.S. troops have been trained for desert warfare, yet this essential item of clothing apparently is lacking. (The steel helmets are for combat.) During my service in the Gulf region, sun helmets were considered so essential to our health that any one appearing in the open without wearing one was subject to punishment. AMIEL KIRSHBAUM Silver Spring