“He skipped the senior prom for boot camp and took his first plane ride to report in San Diego. The environment was challenging and purposely disorienting, but he loved it. He volunteered for all tasks and immersed himself in the training to gain experience and expertise over eight years of service, four on active duty (non combat) and four in the inactive reserve. At an early age as well as throughout his life, he watched as friends and family succumbed to death, and in training, he learned further how to desensitize. Yet Ball feels blessed he never had to carry the burden of killing someone in the line of duty.”
VIDEO: On the KTLA 5 News at 3, Marine veteran Jonathan Ball discusses his new novel, Operation Jericho, soon to be made into a film.
Who is a hero?
“Heroes, as seen through the innocent and admiring eyes of a child:
If you boil everything away, all the nonsense, the bureaucracy, the politics, then you are left with the total purpose of Operation: Jericho. Americans, no matter their color or creed, are still Americans. Iman and Hasim, as Arab-Americans, are out of place in and out of uniform. Imagine life as an outsider, always on the edge of trust but never gaining it completely. Imagine living on the cusp of society, in a world of anger and hate and death. Imagine the self-doubt in purpose for any mission and what the ultimate outcome could mean for you on any given day.
I think of that, and the excerpt that stands out for me the most right now (the one where I am the little boy, looking upon the faces of heroes and only seeing them as such- no color, no race, no religion- just American bad a**es going to do American bad a** things.” — Jonathan Ball
An excerpt from Chapter Two:
Exhausted from travel and shrouded in uncomfortable uniforms,
the men ached to get to their destination. Their trek
through terminals and corridors was unabated by the light foot
traffic inside the airport. However, the ends of their toes and the
bottoms of their feet burned at the confines of patent leather footwear.
Hasim was still a little groggy from his nap aboard the plane.
He rubbed at his eyes until he caught sight of a small boy.
The boy was visibly tired and less than thrilled to be in an
airport during hours that would otherwise be deep into his
bedtime. His small left hand clutched tightly to the comforts of his
mother’s right. Hasim smiled at the mother and child as their paths
crossed. The little boy, suddenly excited and apparently raised as a
patriot, rendered a salute to the Marines. Each of the men smiled
back and broke uniform protocol. They returned a playful salute
to the boy, and the child lit up. He was elated to have received the
military courtesy as he yelled, “Mommy, Mommy! Did you see?”
Iman and Hasim forgot about the pains in their feet. They dismissed
the itch of form-fitting collars and heavy ties. They discontinued
their silent complaints against the heavy wool of their uniforms.
Rather, they smiled with the slight bump of charging energy
that the child passed to them. Hasim said, “There’s a future Jarhead
right there.” Each laughed lightly as they arrived at baggage claim.
About Jonathan Michael Ball:
He was born in Dallas, Texas and spent his youth in the balance between a country boy loving the wide open space of a cattle ranch and a city kid finding his way through the roller coaster of fast living.At 17 years old, he joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as an Intelligence Analyst in the 1st Marine Division. He deployed with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; and his experiences abroad inspire his wide-reaching takes into character development and the realities faced outside of any bubble of comfort.Beyond experiences in the Marine Corps, Jonathan Michael Ball has climbed mountains, scaled cliffs, ascended frozen waterfalls, and explored various wild areas around the world. He is an accomplished professional, a devoted family man, and an observer of the human experience. He sets out in the great exploration of life’s adventures with the earnest effort of learning and driving forward in the knowledge that experience creates a great writer.
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Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs.
With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club.
You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.5 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views.
As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries.
For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards.
Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals
including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo.
National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards
2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out”
2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver”
2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art
Southern California Journalism Awards
2021 Winner: Technology Reporting
2021 Finalist: Book Criticism
2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt”
2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature
2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway”
2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile
2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers”