From Above, Iraqis Impressive but Easy To Hit, Pilots Say

U.S. fighter pilots have gotten glimpses of some of the half-million Iraqi troops dug in around Kuwait, and they are impressed.

"It's a monstrously big army," said Air Force Capt. Jeff Gurney, an F-16A fighter-bomber pilot. "Basically, when you hit the ground {with bombs}, you're going to get the army someplace."

But Maj. Bobby Jernigan, of Columbia, S.C., and other pilots said bombing by allied planes, mostly B-52s, has been taking its toll.

"Looking at the ground and seeing the concentrations of troops, and the craters in amongst them, the craters really stand out when it's clear because you cannot see a depression in the earth," Jernigan said. "It's a black spot." All in the Family

A year ago, Tescha Shipp and her brother, Jason Shipp, both of Dallas, joined the Marines and went through boot camp in South Carolina together. World peace, not war, was what everyone was talking about then.

"Now, I'm out here in the desert with a rifle on my shoulder and Jason is at Camp Pendleton in California playing with a computer," Tescha Shipp said.

"Jason wishes it was him over here instead of me," Shipp said. "But I'm glad it's me over here instead of him." Moving Day

In 14 1/2 years in the Army, Maj. Baxter Ennis had never seen anything like it. A mammoth convoy, moving troops, supplies and weapons from one part of the desert to another in preparation for a land war.

"It reminds me of that line from the movie, 'Patton,' " Ennis said. " 'Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor pale by comparison.' "

The convoy moving the Army's 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division left at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and arrived at brigade headquarters on Thursday. Trucks filled the road as far as the eye could see.

Col. Ron Rokosz said the 2nd Brigade is now so far north in Saudi Arabia that lookouts can see the glare from Iraqi windshields across the border. 'The Scare of War'

Aboard the USNS Spica, the Navy's "supermarket" ship that supplies war vessels in the Persian Gulf, the medical officer is spending more time treating people for psychological difficulties than physical problems.

Military officials say the start of the war has brought on more stress among the troops, many of whom have been in the Persian Gulf since last summer.

"Sometimes it's the scare of war, but mostly it is the fact that we have been away from home for so long," said Brent Myers, of Seattle, medical officer aboard the Spica.

"We constantly have to be on the alert for terrorist actions, mines and, because of the vulnerability of the ship, there's an extra awareness that's always there," he said. "We all live from day to day." On Mine Lookout

The morning after U.S. fliers bombed an Iraqi mine-layer in the Persian Gulf, Seaman William Huff was back in his chair perched precariously at the front of the cruiser USS Mobile Bay scanning the water ahead for any object bobbing in the waves.

Huff, 25, of Harrison, Ark., usually works baking bread in the galley. Bundled in warm clothing against the morning chill and wearing a safety line to protect him from falling into the water, he said there was little to see from his perch during the hourlong watch -- just floating trash and a school of dolphins.

Despite the Mobile Bay's high-tech weapons, including helicopters, missiles, torpedoes and advanced radar, the defense of the ship relies heavily on several pairs of human eyes.

For Huff, who grew up around his grandmother's coffee shop in Harrison listening to old-timers spin yarns about World War II and Korea, this kind of war duty is a long way from what he expected.

"All we do is launch a few missiles toward the coast and watch the planes go by," said Huff, who added that he joined the Navy to get out of Harrison and have a look at the rest of the world.

"I'd like to see more of the world," Huff said. "Seems like I've seen a lot more of the Middle East lately." A Quack Unit

Their role is less glamorous than the fighter and bomber pilots', but the Desert Ducks have played their part in Operation Desert Storm. The Ducks -- ferrying people, mail and cargo across the Arabian Peninsula -- are arguably the best-known helicopter unit in the Navy.

In the last three months of 1990, the four Sea King helicopters from the Virginia-based detachment carried 204 tons of mail, 96 tons of cargo and 3,436 passengers. They have a secondary task of search and rescue.

According to a Navy tradition, when an aircraft lands on a ship, sailors try to "zap" it. "They try to put one of their stickers on it to show that you have been there," said Lt. Greg Sauter.

But the Ducks always hit back.

A large sponge cut in the shape of a duck's foot has been mounted on a pole. A quick dip in yellow paint, a smack on the deck and everybody knows "the Duck stopped here." The Duck print has been slapped on some of the bombs dropped on Iraq with the inscription: "Duck this, Saddam." Compiled from military pool reports