BOONE, N.C. -- Michael Ray Ange, the National Guard sergeant challenging President Bush's constitutional authority to send troops to the Persian Gulf, is an unlikely protagonist in the continuing legal drama.

With a National Guard affiliation that began in 1982, just after he graduated from high school in Greenville, and long experience in civilian police work, Ange is accustomed to taking orders.

Even one of his attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York said he "came out of nowhere" and has a surprising background for someone pursuing such a challenge.

Ange, 26, is undergoing medical tests this week at Fort Lee, Va., near Richmond, for knee problems and possible stomach ulcers while the rest of his unit, the 1450th Transportation Unit, is in Saudi Arabia.

He also is awaiting another hearing Dec. 10 before U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth on his bid for a permanent injunction against deploying him to the gulf region. Last Tuesday, Lamberth refused to grant a temporary restraining order in the case.

While Ange has told reporters that he brought the suit because of a deep belief that Bush exceeded his constitutional authority under the 1973 War Powers Resolution, friends here said he was upset and angry about having to leave college during his last semester.

"It was discontent over the fact that he's been trying to get out of the military and they never would review the {medical} records," said his roommate, who asked not to be identified. Ange is a senior majoring in criminal justice at Appalachian State University here.

Ange also was enrolled in the university's Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, but Lt. Col. Claude Cooper, a professor of military science there, said Ange is about to be dropped from the rolls for disregarding orders and has lost his monthly stipend. Cooper said Ange left a summer training camp in 1989 without permission to seek medical treatment for his knee.

The less-than-honorable end of his ROTC career meant that Ange would not be commissioned as an officer when he returned to active duty in the National Guard.

"That's one of the heartburns he has," Cooper said. "He didn't want to deploy as a truck driver. He wanted to deploy as an officer."

Ange said in an interview last Thursday that he joined the National Guard in 1982 as a military policeman and later became a military police investigator. As a civilian, he had been a sheriff's deputy in several North Carolina coastal towns and served an internship with the Boone Police Department.

After receiving a community college degree, Ange moved here in 1988 to seek a bachelor's degree. He transferred to a local National Guard unit and went into the ROTC program.

Rick Hess, a friend of Ange here, said Ange told him that if he could not be an officer, he would "just as soon get out" of the military. Hess said Ange told him that he would lose his government loans if he withdrew from college before the semester ended.

Of his medical problems, Ange said, "The Guard won't do anything until the ROTC thing is resolved."

He said he left the ROTC camp in 1989 because the Army would not treat his chronic knee problems. He was dropped from ROTC rolls because he did not go through proper channels, although three requests to appeal to the inspector general were denied, Ange said.

Ange said he initially supported Bush's troop deployment as part of a United Nations effort. But about the time his National Guard unit was activated early last month, Ange said, he sensed a shift to a predominantly "offensive mode."

That, he contended, was illegal under the War Powers Resolution, which limits the president's ability to dispatch troops into conflict.

If his court bid is denied Dec. 10, Ange said, he expects to be shipped to his unit. "If I were going to go, I couldn't think of any better group to go with," he said.