b. 05/12/1945 Kansas City, Missouri.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 16/05/1968 Quang Tri Province, Vietnam.
Ballard was born in Kansas City, Missouri and it was there that he enlisted in the United States Navy. Sent to Vietnam, Ballard served as a corpsman in the Quang Tri province with Company M, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines (Mike 3/4) of the 3rd Marine Division. On May 16, 1968, Ballard treated two Marines suffering from heat exhaustion, and when returning to his unit from the casualty evacuation helicopter pad he and his company were attacked by the North Vietnamese Army. While under fire, Ballard directed aid to other wounded US Marines and when a grenade landed nearby, he lay on top of it to protect the wounded. The grenade failed to explode and Ballard was able to throw it away to explode harmlessly, and then continue to treat the wounded. For his actions, he received the United States of America’s highest award, 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 on 14 May 1970 at The White House. He then enlisted in Army officer candidate school. Westmoreland offered Ballard a direct commission, however Ballard turned it down for personal reasons. Ballard later joined the Kansas National Guard in 1973, 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.
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.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WITH RECIPIENT.