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Hospital Corpsman Second Class Donald Ballard

Date of Award: May 14, 1970
Conflict: Vietnam War
Branch: U.S. Navy

Hospital Corpsman Second Class Donald Ballard portraitOn May 16, 1968, companies M and I were moving from the Khe Sanh Combat Base to Hill 689 to rejoin the remainder of the 3d Battalion in Quang Tri. As Hospital Corpsman Second Class Donald Ballard and two other returned to their platoon from the evacuation landing zone near Khe Sanh, a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) unit ambushed the companies. A heavy barrage of enemy fire caused numerous casualties. Ballard quickly spotted a Marine who sorely needed help and managed to move across the fire-swept terrain to the wounded man without getting hurt himself.

While the men prepared to evacuate the wounded man, an NVA soldier suddenly emerged from the bushes, attacking with a Chicom grenade and gunfire. Ballard immediately returned fire, killing the NVA soldier. He warned the other Marines that a grenade had been thrown and was about to detonate, and, in an instant, he threw himself upon the lethal explosive to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. But the grenade failed to detonate, and Ballard stood up calmly and continued treating the wounded.

Citation: “Petty Officer 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.”

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