Danny sent the scores from the Bronco game. Melissa said her fish was dead. Amy wanted to know if there is going to be a war.

The fifth grade class at Mary Blair Elementary School in Loveland, Colo., has adopted Lt. Col Arnold Laidig Jr., 45, as their link to events in the Persian Gulf.Seven letters arrived Thursday, bringing the lieutenant colonel's haul to 11, and he is thrilled.

"It's a tie for me back to the real world, life goes on," said the Army public affairs officer. "It's a different perspective, it's a refreshing perspective. It's great to get."

The class adopted the lieutenant colonel, from Alexandria, Va., because Danny, his 10-year-old nephew, is one of the pupils.

The letters were a mix of personal anecdotes and questions about the situation in the gulf.

Melissa was one of the most talkative, saying, "I have one cat, and I used to have a fish. My brother's fish ate it. I need to get a new one."

Then she starts asking about his life:

"I wonder what it's like over there. I bet it's kind of scary. I just looked on the map. I found where you are. It is a long way away."

Doug, even at a distance, managed to hit the nail on the head about the prevailing attitude among soldiers and journalists with his question.

"I only have one question and that is what is it like to be sitting out there doing nothing but waiting there to see if anything happens?"

The arrival of October has brought a slight easing in the fierce desert temperatures that kept troops inactive for much of the day.

The mercury has started to fall, with the water in storage tanks actually too cold in the morning for some people's taste for showers.

Daytime temperatures, while still high by most standards, are down 10 to 20 degrees from the 115-degree norm in August, when the soldiers started to arrive.

"A couple days ago it was 95 and that was magnificent," said Col. Burt Tackaberry, 43, of Jacksonville, Fla., the commanding officer of the 24th Infantry division's Aviation Brigade.

Many troops are also getting their first phone calls home and its always a toss up who is more surprised - the caller or the recipient in the United States.

One staff sergeant, sitting in the middle of a tractless waste of sand, got through to his wife in Camp Pendleton, Calif., via satellite link.

He was obviously having trouble getting a word in edgewise as he kept saying into the phone, "Uh hon . . . honey . . . honey."

Finally he bellowed, "Honey! Shut up! I love you!"