The hotter it gets, the harder it will be for Cody Engelman to do his job.
“Most electronics don’t do too well when they’re melting,” said his mom, Pat Engelman of Mesa. The dust and gathering heat of the Persian Gulf deserts will be Saddam Hussein’s allies if war breaks out.
Cody, 20, is a graduate of Mountain View High School who enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps to continue his family’s military tradition. His 56-year-old father, Greg, served as a Marine in Vietnam, and an older brother was in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq 12 years ago.
Cody, a computer specialist, has been in Kuwait since late January.
“They flew him over so he could set up all the data banks and get things started before the rest of the guys got there by ship,” Pat Engelman said.
Already, Camp Coyote — that’s the code name for where he’s stationed, though he can’t tell even his mother where, exactly, it is — sounds like a nasty place to be.
“He asked me for some bug repellent, for some suntan lotion and some anti-itch cream,” Pat Engelman said. The troops are tormented by mosquitoes and sand fleas, and “all the guys are asking for Gatorade,” she said. She’s thinking about asking for corporate help in shipping some of the beverage to Cody and his buddies, who hope war, if it comes, will be over before the real summer heat sets in.
She described her son as “a real laid-back kid. He’s a go-between. He stops fights. He doesn’t like to fight himself.”
His only fight, she said, happened on the first day of kindergarten. When his dad asked him why he didn’t fight back, he said, “Because I was too busy crying.”
Now, she said, her son is not afraid of what could happen in the war theater.
“He said he could get killed over here quicker just riding around in a car with his friends, the way people drive over here.”
Pat Engelman, 54, is not gung-ho about the war, but is resigned to what might be inevitable.
“I want peace more than anybody,” she said, “but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.” Giving Saddam Hussein free rein, she said, would be “like letting the house burn down to the ground and then calling the fire department.” And she thinks the FBI and CIA know more than they can publicly divulge about Iraq’s weapons programs.
She has no love for antiwar protesters, who bring back memories of when her husband returned from Vietnam to be greeted by spitting demonstrators who carried signs that called him a baby-killer.
Greg is Pat’s second husband. Her first, who had been in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, died in a motorcycle accident. Her 33-year-old twins are from that first marriage, and one of them, Larry, is a Gulf War veteran.
“It seems,” she said, “like every 12 years I’m going to be shipping a son off to the Gulf, to some war.”