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Never Mind the Land Mines, U.S. Soldiers Want Dry Socks

January 2, 1996

ORASJE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Forget land mines or snipers. Spc. Ramiro Magallon is worried about his wet feet.

Since floodwaters washed out the tents of American soldiers camped on the banks of the Sava River separating Bosnia and Croatia on Wednesday, ``We don’t have no socks, no underwear, no nothing,″ the 25-year-old from Chicago said Monday. ``These BDU’s (battle dress uniform) I have on are all I have.″

Magallon, part of the 502nd Engineers, was busy directing Humvees and Bradley fighting vehicles coming across the bridge, which the army put up over the river a day earlier. Most of U.S. soldiers and equipment taking part in the NATO-led mission to enforce peace in Bosnia will come across the bridge.

But that didn’t completely take Magallon’s mind off his feet, which were wet and cold. Replacement gear was supposed to arrive soon, he said.

In the meantime, he borrowed socks from some friends, and got gloves from a captain who found him directing traffic with his hands in his pockets. But there was nothing Magallon could do about his missing pairs of extra boots.

``These boots take four days to dry out,″ he said, stamping his feet on the muddy river bank.

``My father will probably be really mad,″ he added. ``He told me to keep warm.″

Magallon said he walked across the pontoon bridge behind every 70-ton Abrams tank that rolled across Sunday, trying to warm himself in the heat of the huge machines’ exhaust.

Pfc. Brian McCrudden of Waynesville, Mo., managed to salvage his duffel bag from his tent when the flooding started, so he had socks, he said.

But McCrudden, 19, also lost his extra boots, and was feeling cold and miserable on Monday. ``When we train, we train for the worst,″ he said. ``But we never trained for this.″

In addition to his boots and cold-weather gear, Magallon also lost some of his personal things in the flooding _ extra food, his penny loafers, and _ perhaps most unfortunately _ ``the address of a young lady I was going to call.″

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