Off Beat: A long story found behind the brief
You may occasionally see items in the Sunday paper labeled "military briefs."
They're short items about local residents who have undergone basic training as they begin their military career. Some of these briefs have photos.
Back in November 2006, this newspaper ran this item: "Air Force Airman Daniel W. Ball, son of Kari Hall of Yuba City, graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio. He is a 2006 graduate of Yuba City High School."
Usually, that would be the last update you would read of Daniel Ball.
But a website called the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System recently provided an update on Ball's career.
"He's done everything from combat operations to treating a female Iraqi teenager who was wounded when a stove allegedly blew up on her," the website story noted.
Mostly, the story focused on a March 2007 incident at Tallil Air Base in Iraq. At the time, Ball was on his third tour in Iraq.
"I was asleep in my bed when I heard a lot of explosions," said Ball, according to the account. "After listening for about 20 seconds, I realized it was incoming and not outgoing fire, jumped out of bed, threw on my gear, grabbed my weapon and ran out of the building. We had to go find the points of impact and clear them of any hazards or wounded personnel."
The story continued: "When they got on scene, Ball noticed a truck fully engulfed in flames and human remains thrown around the ground. With rockets still landing in the area, Ball quickly grabbed the medical kit and rushed to assist some of the wounded soldiers."
It quoted Ball as saying: "I found my commander was already there and had put a tourniquet on one guy's lower leg."
Ball "noticed quite a bit of bleeding on the soldiers upper torso. Ball began to apply combat dressings," the story continued.
"Looking around, Ball saw chaos in all directions, he said, and remembered seeing one soldier kneeling over a few of his dead comrades, throwing up."
Ball recalled: "The smell was one of the worst things about that day. It's a smell you can never forget."
Ball, according to the story, has "suffered nightmares but is confident he's always done the right thing and did his best to save lives."
He observed, "You're never fully prepared for a combat zone until you get into it, but be as ready as you can. You need to take all your training seriously no matter how many times you've been through it. It could save you or someone else's life."
And that's one story behind a military brief.