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Just off the plane and waiting for orders in Qatar

DOHA, Qatar—Pvt. 1st Class Jeffry Prokosch is just off the plane.

His uniform doesn't quite fit. His eyes are glazed from a flight that seemed to last all weekend. His body clock is eight or nine time zones off; he's not sure anymore.

"I left on a Saturday," he says. "I showed up here on a Monday morning, which was Sunday back home; I guess that was yesterday."

Prokosch stands in the hot sun on a base in a country that seems to have only one color. Everything, in every direction, is washed in a dull yellow: the buildings, the uniforms, the sand, the horizon.

Soon, he could be fighting in a war against Iraq. "I haven't gotten my special orders," says Prokosch, 25, of Sanford, Fla., a member of the Florida Army National Guard. He is assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Division. "I'm not freaked out yet. I haven't seen anything to really rattle me yet."

His eyes tell a different story.

Back home, he restores cars. Back home, he likes to make music. They call him "D.J. Strange."

Here, he speaks in a soft, wavering voice, almost a whisper.

Just off the plane.

Squinting in the bright sunshine. Waiting to get on a bus. Waiting for his orders.


(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

ILLUSTRATION (from KRT Illustration Bank, 202-383-6064): 20030217 FACES PROKOSCH ILLUS.