Missing Fliers On Minds, Wrists Of Comrades

Mike Whatley has worn a bracelet for a decade to remember a U.S. Air Force sergeant who disappeared during the Vietnam War. Now he has a new bracelet and a new passion: remembering those missing or captured in the war with Iraq.

"Col. {David W.} Eberly went on my wrist when they showed him on Iraqi TV," said Whatley, a 33-year-old technical sergeant from Griffin, Ga., said of the new aluminum band he wears.

Eberly, 43, of Goldsboro, N.C., a fighter-bomber pilot, is one of four men from this base who have failed to return from air missions against Iraq since the war began Jan. 17.

Whatley and his buddy, Tech. Sgt. Rex Tackett, 35, of Mooresville, Ind., at first made bracelets for themselves.

The idea caught on, and the two have made more than 500 of the slim bands -- free of charge.

"Payment for us will be to see those guys go back to their wives," Tackett said.

Jolly Good Showmen

British military spokesmen are stealing the show from their American counterparts at round-the-clock war briefings in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Many correspondents covering the war say British officers speak with more style, frankness and are more polite about saying no. American spokesmen are criticized for using too much jargon and giving too little information.

"Being told 'no' really gets people's backs up," Peter James Demetrin, an American radio reporter, said. "The British are much more frank, direct and polite, especially in explaining why they can't tell you something. There's a certain civility which people appreciate."

British Air Vice Marshall Bill Wratten wowed U.S. journalists with his country's first Riyadh briefing after the war began.

"We realized afterward he didn't say much, but he did it with such style that nobody noticed," Deborah Wang, correspondent for National Public Radio, said.

Male Call

British troops in the Persian Gulf are being flooded with Valentine's Day love letters from women they have never met.

More than 250,000 letters and parcels arrived in Saudi Arabia Sunday and Monday alone. Most were addressed simply to "a soldier in the gulf."

"In the past few days, the mail sent to the lads by people they don't know has reached an all-time high," said Sgt. Peter Thorne of the 7th Armored Brigade, which is deployed near the Iraqi border.

"I hear some long-distance romances have already begun," said Sgt. Maj. Tom Parker, in charge of the 7th Brigade mail.