Soldiers returning from the gulf war are bringing home Iraqi bayonets and Saudi Arabian prayer rugs, but their commander faces possible red tape with his bottle of Kuwaiti sand.
The Federal Plant Test Act "prohibits the introduction into the United States of sand, soil, vegetation and animal products" without a permit, U.S. Central Command spokeswoman Lt. Col. Virginia Pribyla said Wednesday.Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf scooped the sand off a Kuwait City beach last week and told reporters it would be among his most treasured possessions. It seems he'll be able to take it home after all.
"The Department of Agriculture has offered to inspect Gen. Schwarzkopf's sand and process it if necessary," Pribyla said.
Schwarzkopf's booty seems modest when measured against the trove of Iraqi gear other soldiers are taking home.
Staff Sgt. George Chappell, 39, of Hinesville, Ga., showed off his collection: a complete uniform, a helmet, two gas masks, a Republican Guard beret, two whistles.
"I've got more Iraqi stuff here than American stuff that I'm taking home," said Chappell, who also bought some Saudi Arabian presents for his family.
"I went shopping," he said. "I mailed my wife a queen-size double-mink blanket. I have five children. I mailed all five a prayer rug."
Every member of his unit, the 2nd Squadron of the 24th Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, Ga., got an Iraqi bayonet. Because of military regulations, those are being shipped separately and will be distributed to the soldiers when they get home.
Soldiers at the dockside in the gulf-side port of Damman cleaned their weapons and hosed down vehicles - including a captured Iraqi tank - in preparation for return to the United States.
A notice board listed "Prohibited Items" they may not bring home, including "prohibited war trophies," "ammunition" and "obscene and immoral books, films, etc."
Before the war, some units were told they could not take items such as Iraqi uniforms as souvenirs.
That edict seems to have been relaxed, although Sgt. 1st Class John Kenney seemed to regret having to destroy 45 "beautiful" Iraqi Beretta pistols.