American Grit Stories

Donald E. Ballard: Doc Protects His Men 5/5 (1)

There is a strange relationship between a corpsman and his Marines. While the jokes abound from either side, Marines and Corpsman alike would fight for each other with unrelenting ferocity and superhuman strength and zeal. It’s a bond between brothers that few can understand. Despite the inability to understand, the bond can be demonstrated. In the tale of Donald E. Ballard who on this day in 1968, performed actions that would result in the nations highest award for valor. The actions of May 16th, 1968 while serving with 3rd Battalion 4th Marines by Donald E. Ballard were in keeping with the highest traditions of Naval service and commitment that a Corpsman is expected to show.

The day had been uneventful so far, and Doc Ballard had just evacuated two Marines for heat exhaustion. That seemed to be the extent of the day’s excitement, until shortly upon returning to his Marines the Viet Cong launched an attack on the rifle company. A Marine was wounded in the exchange and Donald Ballard like always went to his Marine. Despite the withering gunfire, Doc Ballard went. Like always. That’s what Corpsman do. While treating the wounded Marine and directing four Marines to get him to safety, a grenade landed near them. Without hesitation, and with total disregard for his own safety, Doc Ballard jumped on the grenade.

Time…ticked…by…what was mere milliseconds must have felt like an eternity. The grenade didn’t explode. Donald E. Ballard rose up and tossed the grenade away from his Marines.

Donald E. Ballard

He then continued, like always, performing aid on his Marines as they continued the firefight.

With an unwavering dedication to duty and love for his fellow warriors, Doc Ballard didn’t tell the world how much he cared about his brothers, he showed the world. More men like Donald E. Ballard are needed in our world today. Bold men of action and decisiveness.

Corpsman up!

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The Author

John Fannin

John Fannin

John spent four years as a 0351, Infantry Assaulltman in the United States Marine Corps. He deployed twice to the city of Ramadi, Iraq with 3rd Battalion 7th Marines. After leaving the Marine Corps in 2008 John pursued a degree in Kinesiology from Texas Lutheran University. During his time at TLU, John was fortunate enough to play football for a year and serve the local community as a volunteer firefighter. After graduating John worked as a personal trainer for few years before coming to work at American Grit. John is also the proud owner of a great beard.