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from TRAVELING ON A WING AND A PRAYER by CORA ANN

Copyright © 2020 CORA ANN

I NEVER TOOK MY ARMY BOOTS OFF
A German captain almost started another war.

THIS GERMAN NUISANCE

I have never been a history buff. But in my research for a school assignment, I discovered one interesting fact. During the Battle of the Atlantic, Canada, Germany, and France were at war at the same time. These countries weren't actually on the same side. As history tells the story, Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. Then, France, Canada, and a few other countries rallied their forces in their fight against Germany. After battling for months, Germany got the edge and invaded other countries, one of which was France. Although prevailing temporarily, the Allied forces eventually defeated Germany in 1945.

I thought a smaller version of this historic battle would repeat itself right before my eyes. While working as a Force Protection Officer in Kaiserslautern, Germany, I jumped at the chance to attend a course at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany. It was the international Combined Arms Control Verification CFE Inspector/Escort Course. I was the only female in the class, the only DOD civilian and the only Black American. It was an excellent opportunity for me to attend this course and to increase my security experience on the international front.  

Oberammergau is a beautiful, quaint Bavarian village. It is within a bird' s-eye view of the imposing Alps and just a few kilometers north of the Austrian border. In a word, this area is gorgeous.

But back to the Battle of the Atlantic. As in that crucial battle, lousy weather played a significant part in that war. Ironically, the weather in Oberammergau also played a substantial role during an incident that occurred when I attended this course. 

The temperature in Oberammergau had dipped to single-digit readings hovering between minus 7 and minus 9 degrees. These temperatures signaled the start of prime weather for skiers and other snow sports lovers. Yes, I love the powdery, white stuff, too (not cocaine, mind you). But I am nobody's snow bunny. I am from New Orleans, Louisiana. Temperatures in the mid-fifties amounted to an Arctic cold snap, which forced New Orleanians to bundle up from head to toe and huddle around heaters like Eskimos in their igloos. 

Although I have lived in Germany for many years, I am still not used to its winters. However, clothing-wise, I am always more than prepared. I take prudent steps to shield my southern-bred torso from the chilly air and keep the body heat I desperately need to stay comfortable.

To begin with, distinguished visitors from different countries and prominent guest speakers from several NATO nations were on tap to present lectures for the weeklong course. A VIP from the United Kingdom and a Marine lieutenant colonel who saw action in Iraq were the ones who impressed me the most. The class consisted of officers and a few civilians (including me) from various European foreign countries. Before settling in for the lectures, each of us had to introduce ourselves to the rest of the class.

First up to speak was a German captain who sat in front of me. He was a scruffy-looking dude with dirty blond hair and a five-o'clock shadow even though it was 7:30 in the morning. He looked rough around the edges! He reminded me of Hugh Laurie, the doctor from the TV series "House." I felt trouble brewing with him.

When he stood to introduce himself to the class, he distinguished himself from the eclectic mix of attendees. He annoyed me because he ranted and raved non-stop about his little village in northeastern Germany near the Netherlands' border. Its location meant that he was used to freezing temperatures. For a good reason, I dubbed him, "The Nuisance."

At the first break, with amusement and curiosity, I watched The Nuisance because I just knew he would do something stupid! As if on cue and without hesitation, he dashed to the nearest window and brazenly yanked it wide open. I think he must have felt that he was at his own house. I think he believed that this irrational act validated his self-imposed authority to do this. He shouted out to no one in particular, "It's too stuffy in here with so many people. I need fresh air!" I was both shocked and pissed off at his reckless action, but I didn't budge because it wasn't my fight...not just yet.

As the blast of cold air hit me, I wrapped my arms around my body and started rubbing my arms vigorously to generate some heat to fend off the cold air. Unfortunately, this didn't help me. I was colder than the ti...






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