They Can't Carry a Tune, But They Can Fly One

Remember the Air Force pilots who attracted media attention early in the war with their penchant for soaring off into the heavens with hard rock music blaring on their personal stereos? Well, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Todd Zecching and Lt. Steve Schwing have done them one better -- or worse, depending on who's listening.

Each time the two men fly off the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in their EA-6B Prowler jet to jam Iraqi air-defense radar, they break into Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song." Schwing admitted that neither he nor Zecching has much of a voice, but he said that the words "I come from the land of ice and snow" are appropriate for two jet jockeys normally stationed near the Canadian border.

Their duet usually starts off softly, Schwing said, almost absent-mindedly, moments before takeoff, in a low hum that fills the void between the early chatter of the mission. It builds gradually, he laughed, the closer they get to their target, until they could swear the Iraqi radarmen on the ground can hear it too.

Ingenuity Comes to the Fore

In early December, the patch of desert outside an air base in central Saudi Arabia was just that: desert. Today, two months after an Air Force squadron arrived, a bustling canvas city has sprouted, complete with a fully equipped gym (provided by Arnold Schwarzenegger, no less) and a nine-hole golf course dubbed Desert Fox National.

In lieu of grass, each player carries a strip of synthetic turf on which to play each shot. But beware of the bunkers, called SAM traps (after the antiaircraft missile). The traps look like the rest of the course except that they are surrounded by sandbags.

But Will Cupid Shoot Patriots?

The folks at the Dhahran International Hotel, wartime home to more than 700 journalists, are all heart.

Noting that foreign guests will be far from their loved ones on Valentine's Day, the hotel management is planning a special buffet for the occasion, featuring "seafood and strawberries."

"Cold shower afterwards can be arranged," according to the hotel newsletter.

Cup of Coffee, Hold the Cup

While Vietnam may have produced some hash smokers and potheads, Saudi Arabia is producing its version of the addicted soldier. One reporter found two combat engineers chewing instant coffee straight from the jar.

"Cooking it takes too long to hit you," explained Sgt. Darin Hardwick, 24, of Monroe, Mich. "We wash it down with water and it keeps us squared away."

Getting the Message

A robot spotter plane searching for Iraqi targets in Kuwait has discovered what could be the largest message ever written in sand. It says: "Free Kuwait."

The drone was operating Saturday from the battleship USS Wisconsin, where officers said the message was written in letters three stories high and must have been produced for the benefit of pilots.

Soldiers Ordered to Unload

A U.S. divisional commander in the Persian Gulf War has ordered his soldiers not to load their rifles unless on guard duty after a spate of accidental firings, the division's safety manager said.

"The word is that we will not lock and load until contact with the enemy is imminent," said Mel Kelder, civilian safety manager of the 3rd Armored Division. "In the area where we're located now, we're not in danger."

Kelder said Maj. Gen. Paul Funk ordered the safety measures after a spate of accidental firings of M-16 rifles and other incidents among front-line units. No injuries were reported.