Maj. Frank Timmons of the 937th Engineers Group continues a long and almost honorable military tradition.

Like the legendary supply officer Milo Minderbinder in "Catch-22," whose aircraft ferried goods to all sides in World War II, Timmons gets things for his men and women.

Take plywood. You want plywood? Timmons has it -- about 45,000 sheets stacked in an acre of desert north of Dhahran. And not just any old plywood. Finished mahogany plywood, 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch thickness, from Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia and Canada.

"I've probably given 11,000 sheets to all my units, including what I've swapped," says Timmons, 42, of New Mexico, who came to the Saudi desert from an assignment at Fort Riley, Kan.

Swapping is, of course, another almost honorable military tradition. During Operation Desert Shield and its successor, Desert Storm, swapping has become an operational necessity, given the problems that arise daily in supplying roughly 500,000 troops.

Enter Maj. Timmons, who is known in Saudi Arabia as a scrounger.

His talents were put to the test, for example, when more than 3,000 tents sat on a loading dock while field units "were screaming for them," Timmons recalls. "For awhile it was the same for concertina wire, pickets, MORE {a kind of boxed food} rations. The theater wasn't mature enough to respond to requisitions electronically."

So Timmons started trading. Plywood for oil and air filters. Plywood for long underwear. Plywood for better rations for his troops. Plywood for the use of a forklift. Plywood for five trucks.

He often hand-carries requisition authorization forms, rather than merely submit them through channels, then he sits and schmoozes with his colleagues about fishing and hunting. Once he even stopped by the office of Maj. Gen. Gus Pagonis, director of all supply operations in the Saudi theater.

"I got his signature to get some tents," says Timmons. "What was he going to do -- send me to Saudi Arabia? The worst he could do was say no." Quotes for the Record

Some quotes from U.S. servicemen in Operation Desert Storm:

"We're all tired, we all stink. But that's life in the magic kingdom." -- U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Allen Bruce in a pep talk to his men.

"I went from bombs to bombast." -- U.S. Army chaplain Lt. Col. Don Allyn, who once served as an artillery officer.

"We put on our pants the same way as everybody else. It's just that ours have shirts attached." -- a U.S. Navy fighter pilot on the mystique of his job.

"We got all these culture classes before we got over here and I'm still wondering when we'll see a Saudi." -- Capt. Salvador Rodas, on deployment in remote desert regions.

"We validated the physical principle that water runs downhill." -- Marine Lt. Col. Jay Vesely, on digging a foxhole in the rain.