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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: You have some amazing readers! When I wrote about my mother's adventures in the Desert Battalion during World War II, I had no idea there would be such a response.

Within 12 hours after my letter appeared in your column on May 30, I received a dozen phone calls and numerous e-mail messages. Two days later, letters started arriving.

With only my name and hometown, your readers tracked me down to tell me they had located copies of "The Desert Battalion" on various book-search sites.

One man had a copy he was kind enough to send to me; another had one because he was a personal friend of Mrs. Edward G. Robinson's and had actually accompanied the battalion on several trips to visit the troops in 1943-44; and a lady from San Diego named Betty called to say she had been one of the original battalion!

Amazingly, Mrs. Robinson's granddaughter also called. We talked for an hour about her grandmother's reminiscences of the battalion. We plan to correspond further.

I was able to order a copy of the book, which I have given to Mom; received another as a gift; and learned much about Gen. Patton's secret "Camp X" near Palm Desert, Calif. The Desert Battalion was the only civilian group to go there or know about it.

It's been an amazing experience, thanks to you, your readers, and the U.S. Postal Service, which delivered many letters to me addressed only with my name, city and state! -- DAVE KOHL, WEST LINN, ORE.

DEAR DAVE: My readers are the most caring and generous people in the world. I'm not surprised that they were galvanized to action after reading your letter. Thank you for sharing your happiness. (I'll have more on this subject tomorrow.)

DEAR ABBY: A few years ago, my mother told me my father had cheated on her. They are now divorced. I decided then that my father would not walk down the aisle when I got married -- nor would he and his new wife ever be invited to my wedding.

Even though that day is a long way off (I am 12), I was wondering if you agree with my decision. -- MAD AT DAD IN VIRGINIA

DEAR MAD AT DAD: I understand your anger at your father, and your protectiveness toward your mother. The best advice I can offer is not to make any hard-and-fast decisions at this time.

When you are older, and actually planning your wedding, you will better understand the reasons why your parents' marriage failed, and then you can make a mature decision that you will not later regret.

DEAR ABBY: I am 76. My husband is 79. Until recently, our sex life was nonexistent. Somehow he got his hands on a sample of Viagra and now he is, as they say, "hot to trot."

The trouble is, he has serious heart problems and gets so flushed and out of breath when we have sex that it scares me. I don't think he should be taking the pills.

I know you have medical experts you could ask for advice. I'm sure he hasn't told his cardiologist he's taking Viagra. Help! -- WORRIED IN COLORADO

DEAR WORRIED: If your husband won't tell his cardiologist he's taking Viagra, you should -- and do it today. From what I have read, in most cases, sex won't kill a man with a heart condition, but the combination of Viagra with the wrong medication could. Your husband might prefer to go out with a "bang" -- but before he takes the risk, you both should be fully informed.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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