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Troops from 914th Describe Life in War Zone

By Dylan Hall

Niagara Falls, NY – The Air Force Reserve's 914th Airlift Wing based in Niagara Falls has been working in the Iraqi war zone since March 6. Thursday, several troops checked in with their home base.

The troops of the 914th say the focus of their mission is "beans and bullets." From the makeshift base they call "Tent City," they provide support for the troops on the frontline. They specialize in flying at night, airlifting food, munitions, troops and mail over the Iraq border.

Fortunately, they say, the most hostile force they've battled is the sandstorms. They have seen the bursts of bombs in the distance, but the 914th has never been fired upon.

Lieutenant Colonel Walter Gordon said all of his troops are safe, comfortable and heathy, and there is an energy of optimism in Tent City. The success of troops in Baghdad on Wednesday, he said, boosted morale further.

"I don't want to say that it brought a sense of closure, but it almost did," Gordon said. "The talk around here was essentially that the battle of Baghdad was over and we had won. The war is not over, our effort is not over, but we felt that was a very significant thing occurring in Baghdad."

Gordon said most days have been beautiful, but getting caught in a dust storm is similar to being trapped in a blizzard -- but dirtier.

"The dust works its way into the tent, and gets into every nook and cranny -- on your clothes, into your bed and in your food," Gordon said.

Senior Master Sergeant Jeannie Morrison said she's well and dusty.

"It's almost like camping for a month but without the nice amenities," Morrison said. "I'll tell you one thing. When I get home, I'm going to spend a week in the bathtub."

Most of all though, they said they can't wait to see their families.