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During the war with Iraq, the Tribune will give its readers firsthand glimpses into life at the front by publishing parts of e-mails and letters from Portland area people participating in and observers of the fighting. They and their families have volunteered to share these letters to give readers a better idea of what U.S. forces are facing in the Persian Gulf.

Any details that could put troops in harm's way or that families deem too personal have been excluded.

KYLE THOMSEN

Petty Officer 3rd class Kyle Thomsen, 21, is a U.S. Navy interior communications specialist aboard the USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf. He exchanges e-mails with his parents, Kris and Kristine, of Vancouver, Wash. His older brother, Kevin, is stationed in Okinawa with the U.S. Air Force.

MARCH 13

Waiting for war to begin

Well I hope we get out of here soon. É I really don't want to go to war but it is not like I can just go home. We get e-mails from people from all around the United States, on this account called 'E-mail the troops,' and all of these people keep telling us to get out and come home. Well they need to realize that we can't or we would, if they were in our position being left in the dark about everything and had no choice of whether to go home now or later. Man, people are so naive about s*** they don't have a clue about. Well, anyways, have fun and take care of yourselves.

Love,

Ratso!

Mouseman

MARCH 20

The day war breaks out

Well, things are all right. Hopefully this s*** is over with soon. It is not like I actually get to witness it anyway. Well, I hope that one of those Tomahawks that is launched over Saudi Arabia doesn't land there since we are kind of neutral with them. Oh, well, I am sure that nothing bad will happen to us, although supposedly Saddam has God on his side (what God would be on his side?). Anyways, I love you guys.

Love,

Kyle

MARCH 21

The day after first airstrikes

Things are going pretty good here. I guess that we will get a beer day out here, which consists of 2 beers for every sailor. That is actually a lot of damn beer. Maybe I will save mine and sell them to some lush or something. Oh, well, we are just watching the news and everything seems to be going as scheduled and what not.

Love,

Ratso oh so Fatso

MARCH 24

Three days into war

Morale is not good, so depressing would be the answer. É Keep making that yard look beautiful. I know you guys are the best at doing those sorts of things. You guys probably could have had a very good landscaping business earlier but I am sure that you don't want to start at the ripe old age of 50. É I love you guys.

Love,

Kyle

BRETT WOOD

Brett Wood is a news photographer for KABC of Los Angeles, assigned to cover the war from Kuwait. Wood just moved to Los Angeles earlier this year. Before that, he was a Portlander working as a photographer and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

This e-mail was sent to a group of friends a few hours after the opening salvo in the war.

MARCH 20

The day war breaks out

While I guess we all knew this was coming, it's shocking nonetheless. Everything in Kuwait City is quiet. Unnervingly so. É

From 3 a.m. until now, I have been at the Sheraton Hotel on 'Scud watch' or something like it. The Sheraton is where the bulk of the media have roosted (fortunately not us). We drive over and do early morning live shots for KABC evening news and I was brought in to 'stand by' if anything happened. 'If anything happens'?!! É

The journalists that have descended upon this town are pretty much waiting for the ground war to start. Then they will sprint for the border. When that happens, Kuwait City is going to look like a baseball stadium AFTER the game. You know, when all that is left are the guys who sweep up the popcorn and soda cups. From what I understand I will be one of them (the journalists, not the sweepers). É We are tied to an independent satellite company and they have rigged a satellite transmitter onto a Humvee. So when the ground war starts they are headed to Basra just inside the Iraq border.

And we will be attached to them like Velcro. I've been told to pack light,with just the essentials, and to be prepared to sleep in a car for a few days. Ahh, international travel sure is glamorous. É

If I am sent (voluntarily I might add) to Basra, I may not be able to e-mail for a while. I'll try to send one out right before I go, but if not, I'm sure I will have much to say upon my return. É

Brett

MARCH 25

Fierce resistance in Umm Qasr

I think I may have mentioned that I could be going to Basra to do live shots. No thanks. At that time it was thought it would take a day or two to secure. It's Day 6 and it's still No Man's Land. So in Kuwait City I sit. Being a journalist in Iraq right now is a risky proposition. Being a journalist in Kuwait City is like watching paint dry. But Basra is a little far 'inland' for me. My reporter and I are now considering Umm Qasr where the Marines have been having a tough time. Umm Qasr is just five miles from the Kuwait border and I feel if things started to go bad there it's a short arm-flailing run into the sweet, sweet arms of Kuwait.

We've driven up to the Iraq border the last four days through a labyrinth of oil pipeline roads and camel trails. All that to get past a Kuwaiti checkpoint just outside of town. I feel like I'm in a Middle Eastern 'Smoky and the Bandit.' But we've done it successfully and are able to cover troops and supplies reinforcing Umm Qasr. You can see the port town fairly easily from the border, so the Marines didn't get too far. A few days before the war started, we spent some time in the desert at the Marine camp as they got ready. They normally train in a base outside of Los Angeles, so they are a local tie for our coverage.

We interviewed nearly 20 soldiers during our time there. And while there were 17,000 Marines at this camp, when I see casualty figures on TV I think about those 20 kids. They weren't really looking to kill or die, but knew that the only way home to their families was through Baghdad. So they were ready to go. I chatted with them about sports and drew the same conclusion with one that Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time. A few of them asked me if people back home were mad at what they were preparing to do. I just told them the only thing we all agree on is that we want them home safe.

Thanks for all the stateside cheer. Believe me, it helps a lot.

Peace.

Brett