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Staying awake key to defensive Humvee driving in Iraq

Name: Pfc. Paul Adekoya

Age: 23

Hometown: Bloomington, Ill.

Role: Motor Transport Driver


SOUTHERN IRAQ—To stay awake on post or driving a truck, Pfc. Paul Adekoya opens a packet of Taster's Choice coffee, dumps the grounds into his mouth, takes a drink of water, swishes it around and swallows it with a wince.

"It's horrible but it works good," says Adekoya, 23, of Bloomington, Ill.

It gives him a good hour or two of alertness.

Staying awake is one of the keys to being a Marine because almost nobody gets a good night's sleep. They are either moving or on watch.

Adekoya, a motor transport driver, has other tricks. "I'll have a cigarette or put in a dip," he says. "And sometimes, when I'm with my `A driver,' we'll sing random songs."

Adekoya is a junior at Illinois State University, studying computer science. He joined the Marine Reserves four years ago. "I wanted a challenge, to see if I could hang with the best, to see if I had what it takes."

His parents, Deborah and Tony Adekoya Sr., were born in Nigeria. They moved to the United States 31 years ago. "They did it so they could have a better life and so their children could have a better education," Adekoya says.

When he joined the Marines, his mother cried, but his father was pleased. "My parents had a strict upbringing in Nigeria," Adekoya says. "And my dad thought the Marines would teach me some discipline."

Adekoya drives 7-ton trucks, 5-ton trucks, Humvees and dump trucks. "You have to drive defensive," he says. "I have to keep my eyes open for civilians, combatants and land mines."


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

ILLUSTRATION (from KRT Illustration Bank, 202-383-6064): IRAQFACES+ADEKOYA