When Pat Stuber dropped out of Kansas University to join the U.S. Army, he had no idea how ``perfect'' his timing would be.
Only days after he finished his Army training in July, Stuber was told to pack his bags for Saudi Arabia. Iraq had invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2 and President Bush ordered U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf.
Although Stuber put his fine arts studies on hold, the 21-year-old Lawrence resident with a love for drawing continues to create pictures. But instead of using a pencil to draw still life scenes, he's using words to paint a picture of life as an armored cavalry scout in Operation Desert Shield.
Al Stuber, Pat's father, who was a Navy pilot in Vietnam from 1967 to 1970, said his son's letters express the same feelings that he had more than 20 years ago.
"He just wants to do the job and come home. The only difference is that I was on an aircraft carrier, and he's in the sand," he said.
STUBER SAID that his military experience probably contributed to his son's childhood fascinatation with model planes and other war toys.
"Just before he left for Saudi Arabia, I asked him, `What if I had told you when you were 10 that at the age of 21 you'd be fighting a desert war?' And he said, `I guess I would have thought that would be neat.'"
Now, Stuber said, his son wants to avoid war if possible, but he also sees Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as an aggressor who must be contained.
Stuber said his son does an outstanding job of describing life as a desert soldier in a letter sent recently to one of the elder Stuber's former college roommates. The roommate, now an English professor at Memphis State University, was so impressed with Pat's writing that he sent a copy of the letter to Stuber.
Here is the text of the soldier's letter from the desert:
"SO SORRY I haven't replied sooner, we have been so busy around here. Right now it's a brisk and chilly morn as the sun rises in the east. I'm sitting on my collapsable cot w/in the makeshift hootch Smith and I made from shelter-halves, blankets, poncho liners & engineer stakes. It sits next to our track under the camo-tent resembling a large `blanket fort' I used to make as a kid. They usually keep us busy w/ classes on tasks, chemical warfare, battle drills, & water detail. At the moment we are waiting to move out on our tracks to perform battle drills on movement & reacting to ambushes. Yes, now I'm a Cavalry scout in the Army, riding out in front of everyone probing for mine-fields, obstacles, ambushes, or God knows what else! I really don't mind, we're highly respected and independent. But kick me in the head and color me pasley, I dropped out of college and cut my hair to do it! But I follow my own drummer. My spirits are good, though my skies are darkened by the looming clouds of war.
"I JUST came back. It was pretty wild in a way. Doing battle drills around wandering herds of camels & black sheep w/ their bedovin counter-parts. They all seemed to take little notice of us. The camels sent me reflecting about their passive attitude. The camels & the ones who bore them, wander the desert, absent of the national borders (that these crazed humans find so important) they have seen a hundred wars from the past, the Egyptians fighting Alexander, the Italians in Ethiopia in WWII, the countless Israeli wars & the recent Iran/Iraq. As before, as seen by them a thousand times, they (the camels) passively see yet another storm brewing. But Oh don't these humans see? No one can tame the desert, it is not for man to own. Very little changes in the desert & the camels know that although thousands of men, women and children may die, the dusty sea will not change & these ships of the desert will remain unchanged. I don't know if you even find this mildly entertaining but I've been space-trucking along & thought I would share the vibes. So I'm a mercenary for Exxon. It's a living. Time kinda bends things when we nod off. I suppose I would be drinking a beer w/ my long shag protesting this whole thing if I were still in college. The joke's on me. It's Kosher though. I am fighting for more the American way of life than many see. And if WE must Roll over SADLY INSANE, We can, & We Will.
"THE STARY nights are a high. I've always been in love w/ the night (and Art, but that my friend is another tale). I often just lay back in the soft cool sand, w/ an occasional track rumbling by, the golden lights glittering in the distance from surrounding bases & pull in some Led Zepplin or deep Purple & fly to the heavens. The Stars diamond dust on Black velvet, I often make illustrations of Men, Maidens or Beasts. Thinking how many soldiers & Sailors from man's beginning have done the same. Sometimes stars are the only comforting and external within sight. I really dig it. It's been a long day, so I'm low flyin! Stay mellow and dreamy. Take good care & don't take the joke of life any further than what it is. Write back (I know you will) & may your creative juices never grow cold.
Your Friend, Pv2 Pat Stuber HHC 1/18th SCOUTS APO N.Y. 09315