They spent their wedding day servicing warplanes back home. They celebrated their first anniversary on separate bases in Saudi Arabia. With luck, they'll spend Valentine's Day together -- loading bombs on A-10 attack jets.

"It's been kind of a strange marriage," said Sgt. Cindy Erickson.

Erickson and Staff Sgt. Allen Hixson might have chosen a safer place for marital bliss than the largest U.S. air base near the front line with Iraq.

No one knows how many couples are serving in the U.S. military in Saudi Arabia. Erickson said they knew of two others in the war theater, but they are serving at separate bases.

The Air Force has agreed to let Hixson, 28, and Erickson, 26, be together, but stopped short of providing them private quarters in the tent city hastily erected in the desert. Hixson has to sleep with 11 other men in one tent, and Erickson is in a tent for Air Force women. But their tents are close together.

"Very close," grinned Hixson. "It just happened to work out for the best."U.S. Vehicles Missing

At least 50 American military vehicles are missing from a U.S. base, and some officers fear they were stolen by terrorists. Others, however, suspect the vehicles were pilfered by other military personnel to be cannibalized for spare parts.

An officer with the Army's 1st Armored Division said an extensive investigation by military police had turned up no clues in the matter of the missing five-ton trucks, jeep-like "humvees" and other Army vehicles.

Sentries near the compound have been alerted to watch for vehicles driven in a "suspicous manner."Hands Across the Sand

A lot of tough-looking guys who speak a different language, carry guns and won't give their names are hanging around with U.S. Army engineers.

They're with the French Foreign Legion, part of the 15,000 troops sent by France as its contribution to the allied coalition confronting Iraq. The Legionnaire engineers are planning and working in cooperation with U.S. Army engineer units camped in the so-called "French sector" of northern Saudi Arabia.

Last week, doctors and medics from the French force were swapping visits with soldiers manning the battalion aid station at the 27th Engineer Battalion from Fort Bragg, N.C.

Maj. Louis Villarruel, 37, of Gary, Ind., the battalion surgeon, showed Capt. Thierry Lefort, 27, one of the Legion's doctors, through his battalion aid station, explaining the equipment and procedures to be used once troops move into battle.

Lefort, who finished his internship only last November in France, told Villarruel "our commanders said we can work together, but we don't know exactly when or how."Fighting Words

While the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes are on the same side in the Persian Gulf War, the British are fighting against a country that sounds like "Eer-awk" while Americans are bombing "I-rackies."

"This war, run by the Americans and (more to the point) largely broadcast by them, is blowing breaches in the redoubt of our language and our pronunciation of it," Simon Heffer harrumphed in Saturday's editions of The Daily Telegraph, a London newspaper.

"Whatever damage the U.S. military is doing to the Iraqis, the violence it wreaks on the English language goes further and deeper," Raymond Whittaker complained in The Independent.

Heffer beefed about television reporters talking of "lootenants" instead of properly British "leftenants," of "missels" instead of "miss-aisles," of Patriot missiles beginning "pate" instead of "pat."