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Pantyhose: The latest in desert warfare gear

Uncle Sam wants you, but all Eva Burris wants is your pantyhose. The 14-year-old Fargo girl is organizing a hose drive (new only, please) for local troops heading to Iraq. The leggings have become a sought-after item in the desert, where soldiers...

Uncle Sam wants you, but all Eva Burris wants is your pantyhose.

The 14-year-old Fargo girl is organizing a hose drive (new only, please) for local troops heading to Iraq. The leggings have become a sought-after item in the desert, where soldiers wear them for comfort and as a last line of defense against pesky sand fleas.

The inspiration for the drive came last week, Burris said, when The Forum ran an article about U.S. troops asking for pantyhose. Since then Burris has spent six to eight hours a day calling volunteers, visiting stores and promoting her cause.

"This is just real typical for Eva," said Burris' mother, Sharon. "Even when she was really small she used to do things to get new stuff so she could give it to other people."

Burris has military aspirations, too. She's always been interested in law enforcement and the CIA, she said, but after her brother entered the ROTC program at Fargo North High School last year, she got more excited about the military. She'll begin ROTC training this summer, and she plans to one day attend officer school.

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But right now she has a more pressing mission to complete. The pantyhose drive, which is getting help from the ROTC group and the CHARISM Youth Enrichment Center in south Fargo, will run from April 18 to April 27. Donors are asked to drop off new, preferably large- or queen-sized pantyhose at participating stores.

Some companies make hose designed for men, but women's hose works well for male troops, too, said Master Sgt. Patrick Valdez, public affairs officer at Fort Carson, Colo.

"A lot of guys use them to keep the bugs off of them and to keep the sand out," Valdez said "You chafe pretty easily because you're not getting a bath every day."

Baby wipes and phone cards also are welcomed by troops, Valdez said.

Volunteers will attach a sack of candy and a thank you note to each pair of donated pantyhose, Burris said. Carol Widman's Candy, FM Vending and Clothing and Connections are donating the candy.

Because so much mail is being sent to troops in the Middle East, military officials ask people to limit their gifts to close friends and relatives. To get around that, the donations from Burris' drive could go to any local troops yet to move out. Jody Harms, Family Readiness coordinator for the North Dakota Air National Guard, is overseeing distribution but said so far no unit has been designated for the gift packages.

If no more local units leave, the care packages might be given to families with someone already in the Middle East, so they can send them out themselves, Harms said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Forster at (701) 241-5538

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