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Ex-Venturan injured in Afghanistan
By John Scheibe, jscheibe@VenturaCountyStar.com
August 24, 2006
Staff Sgt. Rashe Hall played football at Ventura College in 1999-2000 school year
A former Ventura College student was nearly killed on Monday when insurgents fired a rocket into his Humvee while he was on patrol with his Army unit in northern Afghanistan.
Rashe Ryan Hall, 25, was hit by shrapnel and was severely burned in the attack, said his mother, Janeen Gracer, from her home in Key West, Fla., on Wednesday.
A staff sergeant, Hall underwent surgery in Afghanistan before being flown to a burn center in San Antonio, Texas, on Wednesday, Gracer said.
"He told me that the rocket passed just inches from his face before exiting the vehicle and exploding," she said.
Gracer is the former wife of a popular Ventura College counselor, Ralph James. James helped raise Hall, Gracer's son from a previous marriage, from the age of 6.
James said he immediately called Army officials after being told that his adopted son had been injured in an attack.
"It was the hardest phone call I ever had to make."
James and Gracer plan to visit their son in San Antonio.
Hall played football for Ventura College during the 1999-2000 school year. He also was a student at Anacapa Middle School and Ventura High School, Gracer said.
Rather than have his mother hear of his injuries from Army officials, Hall phoned her first, letting her know they would be contacting her.
"He was pretty coherent on the phone," she said.
Hall enlisted in the Army in April 2001, just months before the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
"He told me he was joining because he wanted a challenge," she said.
Her son wasn't disappointed.
Hall really enjoyed military life, she said, so much that he recently re-enlisted.
Two other members of Hall's unit were also injured in the Aug. 21 attack, she said, including one whose foot was severed by the rocket.
Gracer said the members of her son's unit were very close. Based in Fort Bragg, N.C., the soldiers had served together in various parts of the world, including Honduras and Iraq, before being sent to Afghanistan.
While Iraq was difficult, Gracer said her son told her it wasn't nearly as hard as being in Afghanistan.
A second Humvee was accompanying Hall's vehicle on the patrol in a remote part of Afghanistan.
Gracer said the soldiers had to drive themselves back to their camp after the attack.