News>Through Airmen's Eyes: Air Force sniper recalls brutal battle in Iraq
Staff Sgt. Daniel Ball (second from left), a 366th Security Forces Squadron controller, and other service members pose for a photo at a deployed location in Iraq. With rockets exploding around him and an entry control point in complete chaos, Ball, a graduate of Yuba City High School, Calif., took decisive action to help quell the enemy threat and treat wounded comrades. (Courtesy photo)
Staff Sgt. Daniel Ball, 366th Security Forces Squadron controller, and other Defenders perform entry checks at a deployed location in Iraq. Ball, a graduate of Yuba City High School, Calif., complete three combat tours in Iraq. (Courtesy photo)
Staff Sgt. Daniel Ball, 366th Security Forces Squadron controller, walks in front of a convoy on an Iraqi roadway. Ball has worked with Army Special Forces and the 820th Battle Group from Moody Air Force Base, Ga. He’s done everything from combat operations to treating a female Iraqi teenager who was wounded when a stove allegedly blew up on her. (Courtesy photo)
by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/1/2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)
With rockets exploding around him and the entry control point in complete chaos, a security forces Airman took decisive action to help quell the enemy threat and treat wounded comrades.
Some were wounded, a few dead, others assisting and many heading for cover. As for Staff Sgt. Daniel Ball, a 366th Security Forces Squadron controller, running to a bunker wasn't an option on that brisk March morning in 2007 at Tallil Air Base, Iraq. There was work to be done.
"I was asleep in my bed when I heard a lot of explosions," Ball said. "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."
That was Ball's third tour in Iraq and the long-range Air Force sniper was already seasoned.
"Our tech. sergeant, another Airman and I got into our (vehicle) and called (the Base Defense Operations Center) to let them know we were mobile," said Ball, a graduate of Yuba City High School, Calif. "After about 30 seconds on the road, we heard a panicked radio call. It was our commander and he needed help near (the base's entry control point)."
Ball's team lead called the operations center to let them know they'd respond and assist. When they got on scene Ball noticed a truck fully engulfed in flames and wounded Soldiers on the ground. With rockets still landing in the area, Ball quickly grabbed the medical kit and rushed to assist some of the victims.
"I found my commander was already there and had put a tourniquet on one guy's lower leg," he recalled. Ball then noticed quite a bit of bleeding on the Soldiers upper torso and began to apply combat dressings.
Looking around, Ball saw chaos in all directions, he said, and remembered seeing one Soldier kneeling over his comrades.
"The smell was one of the worst things about that day," Ball said. "It's a smell you can never forget."
Ball's been in the Air Force roughly seven years. He has completed several advanced training courses, including advanced designated marksmanship, long-range sniper training, detainee operations, convoy security, emergency services team training and the combat life saver course. He has worked with Army Special Forces and the 820th Battle Group from Moody Air Force Base, Ga.
He's done everything, he said, from combat operations to giving first aid to injured civilans.
Ball said he suffered nightmares, but is confident he's always done the right thing and did his best to save lives. Still, Ball has advice for any Airman who may find themselves trekking similar paths to one's he's endured:
"Don't hold (stuff) in and let it eat away at you. Talk to someone," Ball said. "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."
Remembering the good and the bad days in the deserts of Iraq, Ball can confidently say, "I did my job."
3/12/2013 1:57:24 AM ET The only slap in the face is how these internet military wannabees come online and comment on real man's work. Get a life and a reality check. The Air Force does have Sniper's and Ranger's. They are taught and certified by the Army. So if the Air Force can't shoot or Jump what does that say about the ArmyGarrett do yourself a favor and go see a recruiter. You just told on yourself. You are not in the military. What is a operator That is a new term to me. Army Air Force Coast Guard Navy and Marine Corps all work in joint efforts in this generation of OEF and OIF. You would know that if you arewere in the military. But you are not and it shows through your comment.Defensor Fortis
Sniper5, Moody AFB GA
2/5/2013 8:09:37 PM ET I'm not going to go so far and agree with Garrett's devisive comments but...It is true that in the Air Force doesnt have Sniper or Ranger AFSCs. But the Air Force does have members that earn Sniper Qual and Ranger Tabs AND deploy with the Rangers TACP primarily. Without deploying and serving in combat with the RANGERS I generally wouldn't call an Airman a ranger.-No
I'm not a Ranger, ga
2/4/2013 9:07:49 PM ET Ryan Garrett is actually correct in stating that the AF has no Rangers. There are members of the AF who passed Ranger School and are Ranger qualified but that doesn't mean they are Rangers. Even within the Army if you aren't actually in a Ranger Regiment but you earned the tab you don't call yourself a Ranger.
2/1/2013 5:34:28 PM ET Garrett I appreciate you opinion and value everyones equally. I can promise you that I've spent hours talking to this Defender and a dozen others from his unit and if the legitimacy of his claims are in question I would be happy to offer you direct conversations. I'm on global. However if you are open to learning more about these heroes more stories are coming soon.
Kevin Wallace, MHAFB
2/1/2013 3:18:12 PM ET GarrettI am sorry that you are uninformed but the AF actually has both. I know a CMSgt in the SFS career field that is a ranger that would be more than happy to talk to you about the ignorance of your comment. I also happen to know SFS marksman that have been sent downrange to perform sniper duties. I am proud to be the First Sergeant for the individual in the article as well as the individuals in my comment. Defenders truly lead the way and are the real deal when it comes to conventional forces being used and succeeding in unconventional taskings.Ryan
Ryan Glosson, Mountain Home AFB
2/1/2013 1:37:42 PM ET Excellent example of what we should all strive to be in such theatres this sergeants actions are a slap in the face to no-one.
BushRag 308, Hide
2/1/2013 1:21:52 PM ET Real Operators I guess in your eyes no other Force or functional area supports the war effort...get real Garrett
Williams, Air Force
2/1/2013 11:32:17 AM ET The AF has no Snipers or Rangers troops. Only sniper or ranger qualified troops. This is a slap inthe face to the real operators.