Battles and wars Vietnam War
Name Donald Ballard
|Awards - Medal of Honor|
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Unit 3rd Battalion 4th Marines
|Born December 5, 1945 (age 70)
Kansas City, Missouri (1945-12-05) |
Allegiance United States of America
Years of service 1965 - 1970 (Navy) 1973 - 2000 (Army National Guard)
Rank Hospital Corpsman Second Class (Navy) Colonel (Army National Guard)
Service/branch United States Navy, Kansas Army National Guard
Donald Everett Ballard (born December 5, 1945) is a retired American colonel in the Kansas National Guard and former member of the United States Navy, in which he was a hospital corpsman in the Vietnam War and received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions above and beyond the call of duty on May 16, 1968.
Ballard was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He was married and was working in a dental lab when he decided to join the Navy in hopes of becoming a dentist someday.
He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1965. After he completed Navy recruit training and Hospital Corps School, he decided that he wanted to serve as a hospital corpsman with the Marine Corps and was sent to a Field Medical Service School. After he completed the course there, he was sent to Vietnam in 1967. Ballard was assigned as a Navy corpsman with M Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division in Quang Tri province, in South Vietnam. On May 16, 1968, Ballard treated two Marines suffering from heat exhaustion, and when returning to his platoon from the casualty evacuation helicopter pad, his rifle company was attacked by a unit of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) soldiers. While under enemy fire, Ballard was attending to a Marine who was wounded in action when an enemy grenade landed near the wounded Marine, four other Marines, and himself. He immediately covered the grenade with his body to shield the five Marines from the blast. Realizing that the grenade failed to explode, he quickly threw it out of harms way as it exploded, saving the wounded Marine from further harm or death, and the other four Marines and himself from harm or death. He then continued on attending to wounded Marines during the firefight. For his actions, he received the United States of America's highest personal military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor.
After having left the Navy the previous year, Ballard received the Medal of Honor from President Richard M. Nixon and General Westmoreland 1970.
Kansas Army National Guard
He was selected for the Army's officer candidate school. General Westmoreland found out Ballard was switching over to the Army and offered him a direct commission to be an active duty Army officer, however Ballard turned it down for personal reasons. Ballard later joined the Kansas National Guard in 1970, and served as an ambulance platoon leader, company commander, and was tasked with creating the new 'Medical Detachment 5', a unit which performs medicals on Guard members in order to save the cost of contracting outside medical help, and of which he was the first member and commander.
On April 5, 1998, Ballard was promoted to colonel by Major General James F. Reuger and served as Special Assistant to the Adjutant General until his retirement in 2000. Inducted into the National Guard Hall of Fame in November 2001, Ballard is the only living Kansas Guardsman to have received the Medal of Honor. He is also the subject of a memorial statue at the National Medical War Memorial in Kansas City, depicting Ballard during the action for which he received the Medal of Honor.
Ballard has been active in providing services to veterans and active duty military, including work towards opening a USO facility in downtown Kansas City.
Ballard's military awards and decorations include:
Medal of Honor citation
Ballard's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
UNITED STATES NAVY
for service as set forth in the following
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HC2c. with Company M, in connection with operations against enemy aggressor forces. During the afternoon hours, Company M was moving to join the remainder of the 3d Battalion in Quang Tri Province. After treating and evacuating 2 heat casualties, HC2c. Ballard was returning to his platoon from the evacuation landing zone when the company was ambushed by a North Vietnamese Army unit employing automatic weapons and mortars, and sustained numerous casualties. Observing a wounded marine, HC2c. Ballard unhesitatingly moved across the fire swept terrain to the injured man and swiftly rendered medical assistance to his comrade. HC2c. Ballard then directed 4 marines to carry the casualty to a position of relative safety. As the 4 men prepared to move the wounded marine, an enemy soldier suddenly left his concealed position and, after hurling a hand grenade which landed near the casualty, commenced firing upon the small group of men. Instantly shouting a warning to the marines, HC2c. Ballard fearlessly threw himself upon the lethal explosive device to protect his comrades from the deadly blast. When the grenade failed to detonate, he calmly arose from his dangerous position and resolutely continued his determined efforts in treating other marine casualties. HC2c. Ballard's heroic actions and selfless concern for the welfare of his companions served to inspire all who observed him and prevented possible injury or death to his fellow marines. His courage, daring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.