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First Female GI in Bosnia Joined Up for Travel, Not War

December 16, 1995

TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ When Pvt. 2nd Class Michelle Troillett joined the army 10 months ago, she was looking for a way to do some traveling and put off college for awhile.

She’s gotten a surprise.

The Fredericksburg, Va., native has found herself in Bosnia, among a handful of soldiers preparing for the U.S. deployment _ and the first female GI in Tuzla, where the Americans will be based.

``It’s better than I anticipated,″ Troillett, 20, said Friday. ``We have a building to sleep in. It’s got heat and water.″

With a black M-16 over her shoulder and camouflage helmet on her head, the radar technician has spent her first five days in Bosnia helping prepare the Tuzla airfield for U.S. military flights.

But with a milky fog hanging over the airfield, her crew mates have ended up stomping their feet in the cold and trying vainly to bounce signals through the haze at C-130 cargo planes.

In the meantime, Pvt. Troillett has had to answer questions from legions of journalists left waiting for the same planes.

``I wanted to travel, and I wasn’t quite ready for college,″ she said, explaining her decision to join.

But Bosnia? ``It was the luck of the draw,″ she said, smiling.

``I can’t say I know very much about the Bosnians,″ she said. ``I was a little nervous to know what it’ll be like here, but we haven’t gotten off the base.″

Eight other women are among the U.S. GIs deployed so far in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. But in sleepy, gritty Tuzla, Troillett is alone for now among about 75 American men.

``It doesn’t really make a difference to me,″ she said. ``I don’t get any different treatment.″

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