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by Abigail Van Buren

Servicemen and Women Are Counting on Readers to Write

DEAR ABBY: My husband is in the military. I recently found a couple of cassette tapes he recorded to me while he was in the Gulf War. I had forgotten much of what was on them. As I listened to them again, all the emotions and memories came flooding back.

I listened to air-raid sirens going off as my husband was donning his chemical gear. I heard him describe cold showers, fly-infested food, the vastness of the desert and foul-smelling camels. I heard the constant "boom-boom" of artillery as they fought the Republican Guard, and felt the adrenaline race through my husband's blood as he described the "highway of death" and the destruction he saw.

The only time his voice ever shook with emotion was when he described the cards and letters that came from people all over the United States during Operation Dear Abby. He couldn't believe so many people cared about his well-being, regardless of their personal feelings about the war.

When the war finally ended and he flew home, he described the reception he received at Bangor, Maine. Hundreds of people (including many Vietnam veterans) cheered the troops' arrival. I'm amazed at the generosity of those people, including the Vietnam vets who put aside their own bitter memories to give the next generation of soldiers a hero's welcome.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who contributed in one way or another to making my husband's days a little brighter. The letters you write each year during Operation Dear Abby really do make a difference. -- A THANKFUL AIR FORCE WIFE

DEAR AIR FORCE WIFE AND READERS: I'm always delighted to read about servicemen and women who have been personally touched by Operation Dear Abby. This annual letter-writing campaign for our troops is designed to let them know that even though they're far from home during the holidays, they're close to our hearts.

IMPORTANT: I have been informed by the Department of Defense that this year, because of world terrorism, mail has been restricted to cards and first-class letters under 11 ounces. NO PACKAGES WILL BE ACCEPTED. But please remember that every letter from home conveys our concern and support for Americans serving in other countries.

I'm pleased to publicize the following addresses for Operation Dear Abby XIV. They will be in effect ONLY from Nov. 15, 1998, to Jan. 15, 1999:

For Europe and Southwest Asia:

AMERICA REMEMBERS

OPERATION DEAR ABBY XIV

APO AE 09135

For the Mediterranean Basin:

AMERICA REMEMBERS

OPERATION DEAR ABBY XIV

FPO AE 09646

For South America, Central America and the Caribbean:

AMERICA REMEMBERS

OPERATION DEAR ABBY XIV

APO AA 34085

For the Far East:

AMERICA REMEMBERS

OPERATION DEAR ABBY XIV

APO AP 96285

For the Pacific Basin:

AMERICA REMEMBERS

OPERATION DEAR ABBY XIV

FPO AP 96385

For Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine land forces in Bosnia:

ANY SERVICE MEMBER

OPERATION JOINT FORGE

APO AE 09397-0001

For Navy and Marine Corps personnel aboard ship:

ANY SERVICE MEMBER

OPERATION JOINT FORGE

FPO AE 09398-0001

Readers, if you have difficulty with these addresses at your local post office, ask the clerk to check recent postal bulletins. OPERATION DEAR ABBY addresses are not always entered into postal computers and clerks may not be aware that they are valid.

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600