"Is that what I think it is," muttered reporter Ken Smith as a low whaling sound came from outside the hotel window. The whaling sounded very familiar to the sirens I had heard in those old black and white "Duck and Cover" films from the fifties. Ken and I just stared at each other in disbelief as the whale grew louder then trailed off. Suddenly someone yelled, "gas, gas, gas." The sound of a human voice was enough to break the spell the whaling had put on us. We dove for our backpacks.

I had practiced getting on my gas mask in less than nine seconds thinking I wouldn't really have to worry about getting it on in time. Now I was cursing myself for not taking the possibility of being exposed to chemical weapons seriously. I quickly untangled the straps of the mask and slid the contraption down over my face. I don't think I got it on in nine seconds but at least this was better than the first time I had tried. At least this time the mask was sealed around my face.

Once the shock of struggling to put on the mask wore off, I was happy to have a mask to put on. When Ken and I arrived in Kuwait two days earlier, our chemical gear did not arrive with us. According to a Kuwait Airways baggage clerk, our chemical gear and my clothes caught a flight to Frankfurt, Germany when we changed planes in Paris. The tripod case, laptop editor, and support gear case all made the trip from Newark to Paris to Kuwait no problem. But, I guess the chemical gear and my clothes decided they would side with the Germans and the French.

I knew that all flights to Kuwait would stop as soon as the shooting started so I was quite frustrated that my luggage defected. I had all the stuff I needed to work but I wasn't sure how one pair of clothes would last a couple of months in the desert. I had visions of looking like Heath Leger in "The Four Feathers" with a full beard and tattered clothes.

Ken considered us lucky to have landed in Kuwait with the winds of war turning into a hurricane. Kuwait International airport reminded me of Grand Central station at four in the afternoon. Long lines of people with packed bags were waiting to get any flight available out of the country. This scene of flight from Kuwait made me a little nervous. Didn't these people know the U.S. military was between them and Saddam Hussain? Soon I would learn why I was one of only two photographers to volunteer for this assignment.

My clothes and our chemical gear stayed in Germany the next day as well. Again, the airport was a scene of mass exodus from Kuwait. Ken wanted to shoot some video but police informed us very quickly that we didn't have credentials from the Kuwait Information Ministry. We had to have these credentials before we could turn on a camera in the country. Even with the credentials we couldn't shoot Kuwaiti soldiers or police officers. I would find this out the hard way.

Lucky for us CBS Newspath had airport exodus video for us to use. For the first couple of days we depended on other affiliates and Newspath for video and stories while we got credentials. Everybody associated with CBS worked out of the same hotel suite in Kuwait City. CBS had turned a six room suite into a news bureau with a room specifically for affiliates. Also, CBS hired a security firm to keep all of us safe while we worked here. The fine security fellows offered Ken and me gas masks in a can to use while we waited for our gear. I'm not joking, they gave us one time use gas masks that came in a sealed can much like a coffee can. Having the "mask in a can" didn't make Ken or I feel any better about our situation.

At 7 o'clock the following morning, three days after we arrived in Kuwait, we got a call from one of the CBS producers at the bureau. The United State had launched a missile attack against a target where they believed Saddam Hussain was meeting with his generals. "We had better get down there," Ken said as he rolled out of bed. Immediately I thought of the chemical gear. "Let's

swing by the airport on the way," I said hoping that the gear had arrived overnight. The gear and my suitcase had managed to find their way into the war zone. Little did I know I would be using it in a few hours.

"When the first siren sounded, my heart skipped a beat," Ken Smith said of that morning. "I knew this wasn't a drill." After getting our masks on, we stared at each other wondering what to do. The missile attack on Saddam Hussain was not officially the start of the war according to the news floating around the bureau. Obviously Saddam thought the attack was the start of the war and now he was firing SCUD missiles at Kuwait. Regardless of what the U.S. government was telling us, the shooting had started. We needed to get on the air.

The "all clear" siren sounded not long after the first air raid siren. I wondered if a missile had landed somewhere in Kuwait or if the Patriot missiles had done their job. Ken and I were scrambling to get ready to go live from the roof of the hotel. In about an hour the 5 a.m. show would start back home. In Kuwait, the sun had just started it's descent to the western horizon. We usually only went live during the evening newscasts so the morning show producer was pleasantly surprised by Ken's phone call.

Now the next few hours are a blur to me. We went live at least five or six times during the morning show. Some times the air raid siren would be whaling in the back ground as a masked Ken Smith would give a report, other times the "all clear" siren would sound and an unmasked Ken would explain that sound to viewers. At some point during the news cast the CBS security people made us get into full chemical gear. They said even though the "all clear" had sounded, some thing could still be in the air from a detonated missile. "Having reported on some of the atrocities Saddam Hussein is accused of committing, we didn't want to take these sirens for granted," said Ken Smith.

Imagine what a reporter in a full Tyvek chemical suit looked like to a viewer who had just woke up with out a clue as to what was happening in Kuwait. Scared the hell out of my wife and family who were watching. My grandfather called my mother and my wife and told them Saddam was shooting at us. Of course, the whole family tuned in to watch the plastic covered reporter known as Ken Smith. A phone call to my wife after the show would calm her down enough for her to continue with her day.

"My Chemical suit became an essential extra layer of clothing," said Ken Smith. "And yes, it gets quite warm in that suit. It's like walking into a sauna with two or three layers of clothes. I could only imagine our troops out in the desert with their chemical suits on in scorching weather."

Between live shots, I tried to get video. I have learned by covering numerous breaking news stories that when you're tied to a live shot, you shoot the first ten things you see around you and send it back. All I could see from the ten story roof of the hotel was other journalists getting into chemical gear. Other photographers shot me getting into the Tyvek, so I did the same. Shooting video with a gas mask on is difficult but not impossible. I pulled the view finder out from the camera as far as it would go and cocked my head forward a little to connect with the eye cup. Ken grabbed the microphone and found some sound. "I talked with a reporter from Denmark," Ken said. "He told me he was shocked and surprised by the missiles. While he wasn't having second thoughts about covering the story, he did say he didn't come to Kuwait to lose his life."

Ken and I ended up going live in every show that day. Late in the evening, the sirens sounded again. I got video of journalists inside the hotel scrambling to get on their masks. Print journalists and still photographers who weren't expected to stand out in a dangerous situation for the sake of live T.V. filed into bomb shelters in the basement of the hotel. I quickly cut the video and we headed up to the roof for a repeat of the morning show. We became the news that day.

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