Spec. Steven Manley was on duty in the guard tower beside a heavy metal gate that marks the entrance to this Bosnian post.
Manley, a member of Fox Troop, 4th Platoon, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, is normally stationed at nearby Camp Dobol, which has more amenities.But every two months, he and other troops spend a couple of weeks on Mount Vis, watching the approach and checking supply trucks.
Surrounded with huge coils of concertina wire, Mount Vis is shielded at strategic points by barricades made of fence wire and heavy-duty cardboard material, sandbags stacked inside. Near the gate, California's Bear Republic flag flutters from a radar station run by a unit from that state.
The radar "tracks every round that's fired," said Manley, who is from Layton, Utah. If a shell goes fast enough, the radar can detect it and "tell you where it's going to land and were it came from."
Up wooden stairs, along boardwalks, out to the old trench lines that remained from former Serbian positions, he went, taking a Deseret News reporter and photographer to point out the sights of Mount Vis: ranks of huge American tents, a generator building, recreation facilities, red-and-white communications towers lifting microwave dishes, a wooden dining facility.
If the hilltop were to come under fire, solders can duck into shelters, structures of unvarnished board surrounded by sandbags.
The tents on bases throughout Bosnia have plywood floors and kerosene heaters. Inside the tent that Manley shares with six others on Mount Vis, a boom box waited on his cot. When they're not on duty, members of the garrison sometimes play horseshoes. Or they can read, watch videos or work out.
In one tent are a stair-climbing machine, stationary bikes, mats, a treadmill, books, games. "We try to work out at least an hour a day. I mean, there ain't much else to do," Manley said. "Might as well work out and get all good-lookin' for the women when we get back."
No women soldiers were stationed here. At Camp Dobol the women medics, military police and mechanics were outnumbered by men by "10- or 15-to-1," he said.
The Utahn enlisted in the Army to earn money for college and to travel, he said. When he gets out of the Army, he intends to study commercial arts at Salt Lake Community College.
A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he attends LDS meetings at Camp Dobol's nondenominational chapel. "I get letters from one of the bishops back at Fort Polk (Louisiana, where he is based when not overseas). He constantly writes out here, to see how we're doing."
As he returned to the entrance's guard tower, a large, blue, Isuzu van arrived, carrying a new shift of Bosnian employees. They worked for a contractor called Brown & Root. Wherever American peacekeepers are stationed throughout Bosnia, food is cooked and buildings are cleaned by local employees of Brown & Root.
Manley opened the gate, waited until all of the employees stood, then screened them with a metal detector and peered into the van. Satisfied, he waved them through.