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The story that should lead

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
  • 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
There is a cold reality in journalism 'if it bleeds it leads.' It is a mindset that has frustrated me in my time as a media professional, but one I have come to accept.

While serving as a military journalist in Afghanistan, I have seen the reality of this theory play out a few times in recent months. One negative story seems to get the exposure of more than a hundred positive stories. I find this reality quite frustrating.

I have seen our advisers teach Afghans some great capabilities. It is a great sight to see an Afghan's face light up when they figure something out and an even better feeling to see their confidence grow as they are able to do a task by themselves.

Recently, I got to see one of the Afghan's I mentor achieve some personal goals.

One of the most exhilarating and fun jobs a journalist can perform is to be part of a news trip. I have been able to travel a lot during my career and I have had the opportunity to travel to other parts of Afghanistan a few times during my deployment here.

Afghan air force Master Sgt. Mir Mazhar has been my best student during my time here. He always pays attention in class and asks great questions. It is easy to tell that he is very dedicated to serving his country and improving his professional capabilities.

Recently, we had the opportunity to bring one of our students with us to Kandaher Air Field to cover 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. John Hoffman's battlefield circulation, or site immersion visit, April 4-5.

We chose Mir to join us for the trip, which would be the first of his career. His excitement to travel got me excited as well. It reminded me about how the holidays become fun again when you have children to share them with. I fed off his excitement and it ended up being one of my favorite news trips I have done during my career.

Not only was this Mir's first news trip, it was the first time he had ever flown before. His first flight was a bumpy one and someone had to use his airsickness bag. Here is a hint -- it wasn't the first time flyer.

After disposing of my bag of shame, we got right to work. Our first task was to cover a meeting in a small office where it would be difficult to shoot video. As Mir entered the room he paused for a second and you could see he was assessing the situation. After taking a moment, he went to the best possible spot in the room to videotape the meeting of enlisted leaders.

Mir spent the rest of the trip excelling just like he has done in class. It was a proud moment for me to see all of the training kick in and be used so well. I also enjoyed watching the Afghan military leadership warm up to him as his professionalism made them feel comfortable with him.

This type of success story is not rare in Afghanistan. It is a country full of people determined to get their country back on its feet. When it happens it will be dedicated people like Mir leading the way.