German reporter named Inga
I occasionally get tasked to escort media. “Sergeant, you need to pick up a German reporter named Inga. She’s waiting at the gate,” I heard today from my commander. Normally, I despise this job and look forward to escorting media as much as I do taking a cold shower in the dark. Once, I baby sat two foreign media on a combat operation. We were running and the videographer fell in a hole. He had his eye stuck in the view finder not watching where he was going. I listened to him whine for two straight days about how his leg was hurting. Another time, I had to drive really slowly in a very bad part of town just so a FOX cameraman could get the perfect pan of an ancient building. He didn’t like the shot, so we backed up and did it again. “Slow it down, so he can get the shot,” said the “famous” reporter. The only thing I could think about was getting hit while this idiot took his time. I purposely hit a couple of bumps. Take that, famous man.
Today’s mission was different, however. A German girl named Inga was at the gate waiting for me. How many times does this happen in one’s lifetime? We’ve all seen the “movies.” Girls named Inga are typically… how should I put this… nice looking. Of course, I am a gentleman and under orders to not make “relations” with reporters or nationals, so I was completely professional during our encounter. To my surprise, she was middle aged and spoke three languages. She was nice and had a great personality! I envisioned a six-foot-tall, blonde-hair, blue-eyed Inga. The real Inga didn’t meet this description, but was the nicest reporter I’ve met to date. We had a long conversation about the Germans and why they don’t support our involvement in Iraq. She mentioned there was a large contingent of the older Germans who stood behind us, reminding the younger generation that we were there for them in WWII.
She asked how the situation was in Mosul. Loaded question. I could say the obvious. I could talk about the negatives. Or I could talk about the things at which I’m truly passionate about and believe in. I’ve answered this question a million times, and I always seem to add something. Once, I compared the Iraqi leaders to our country’s fore fathers and the current conflict to the Revolution. That response didn’t work. Then, I said Iraqis were completely ready to takeover back in May. I believed that, but it turned out to be a lie. My final answer starts out “we are accomplishing a lot of things here. We’ve built schools, trained thousands of Iraqi soldiers, refurbished hospitals, supplied veterinarians, but it all comes down to the Iraqis stepping up to the plate. We can only do so much for this country. One day, we will leave Iraq and it will be in the people’s hands. With that being said, there’s no task the American Soldier cannot achieve. And we have built a solid relationship with the Iraqi leaders and I have faith that in the end, everything will work out.” If I were stuck in a 50-foot-deep hole, I would never doubt that I could get out. I guess you could say I will forever be optimistic about everything. A veteran reporter, Inga could see this, took her notes and didn’t bother to ask negative questions. I appreciated that.
As the final words rolled off my tongue, Inga smiled and offered me some German chocolate. It was quite tasty.