A Utah Army National Guard member calling from central Saudi Arabia Tuesday reported soldiers are becoming accustomed to almost-nightly Scud missile attacks.
"We've been fortunate - there's been only one hit, and that was after the missile was hit by a Patriot (missile)," said Sgt. A.J. Walkowski, with the Salt Lake City-based 144th Evacuation Hospital. "Those Patriots are doing their job, and that's very comforting."The hospital's approximately 400 members have been in Saudi Arabia about three weeks. They are working 12-hour shifts to meet a Feb. 1 deadline to have the field hospital operational, he said.
Warning sirens sound almost every night. The group is housed in permanent quarters where windows have been sealed to protect soldiers in the event of a chemical weapons attack. Soldiers used to don gas masks every time there was a Scud alert. "Now we just do it when there is a directive," Walkowski said.
Of top concern, he said, is the possibility the original 6-month call to active duty could be stretched to one year. "We never anticipated being gone more than six months."
The group is also still waiting to receive its first batch of mail, he said.