LaPlata, MD – April 11, 2018 – Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is pleased to announce that Medal of Honor Recipient Colonel Donald E. Ballard will be delivering the keynote address at the 12th Annual 2-Fly Tournament on Saturday April 28, 2018 at Rose River Farm in Syria, Virginia. Colonel Ballard will address the pre-tournament dinner at 5pm on Saturday night under the stars in picturesque Madison County. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening will be former Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler, the evening anchor for CBS19 News in Charlottesville, VA. In addition to his keynote remarks, Colonel Ballard will be competing as one of the twelve veteran participants in the 2-Fly tournament on Sunday April 29, 2018
Now entering it’s second decade as the flagship fundraiser for PHWFF, the 2-Fly Tournament has provided vital support for this top-tier Veterans Service Organization and served to raise awareness for it’s remarkable contributions towards the recovery and rehabilitation of those who have made great sacrifices in the service of our nation. There are many ways to help support this great annual event which provides vital funding and awareness for our cause and the disabled veterans we serve. Click here to visit the 2-Fly Online Auction.
Colonel Ballard enlisted in the US Navy in 1965 and attended basic recruit training in Great Lakes IL. After graduation he attended hospital corps school also in Great Lakes, followed by an assignment in the surgery department in the Navy Hospital located in Memphis TN as a Navy Corpsman or as civilians would call him a (paramedic).
In December 1966 Colonel Ballard was selected to serve with the Marines. He attended basic training for the second time, this time with the Marines at Camp Lejune NC. After completion of basic FMF training he was assigned to the First Battalion, Sixth Marines aboard the USS Cambridge (a troop transport ship in the 6th fleet). and set sail for the Mediterranean.
From the fall of 1967 to the late summer 1968 Colonel Ballard served as a frontline Corpsman with Mike Company, Third Battalion, Fourth Marines in Vietnam. As a Grunt Corpsman his job was to save the lives of the Marines in combat and to get the Marines home to their loved ones to the best of his ability.
His life changed on May 16th, 1968 in Quang Tri Province in the Republic of Vietnam. Colonel Ballard was then, a second-class Hospital Corpsman also called “Doc” by the Marines who greatly respect the corpsmen. “Doc” Ballard had evacuated a couple of Marines who had succumbed to heat exhaustion, and was returning to his unit when his unit was attacked by the North Vietnamese Army. His unit was caught in a fierce battle and had loss several Marines. “Doc” Ballard was treating six Marines and was directing the Marines to move the wounded Marines to a safer location when the enemy began throwing hand grenades and shooting into the small group. An enemy grenade hit “Doc” Ballard in the helmet and landed near him, he quickly threw it back in the direction of the enemy, short time later, a second grenade landed in the middle of the group of Marines. “Doc” Ballard dived onto the grenade, however it did not explode. “Doc” Ballard reached under his stomach grabbed the grenade, rolled over and threw it away from the Marines. The grenade then exploded in the air, no Americans were wounded. “Doc” Ballard continued to treat and evacuate the Marines.
“Doc” Ballard was credited for saving several marine’s lives and was wounded 8 times himself. He was med-evaced to Japan for treatment and He was awarded his third Purple Heart medal. In February 1970 He left the Navy and Joined the US Army.
On May 14th 1970 “Doc” Ballard received the Medal of Honor from President Nixon in a White House ceremony. After returning home he decided to stay home. He joined the Police Dept in North Kansas City Missouri, after serving 7 years, and then he switched to the Fire Department and retired as a Captain after 20 years of service. He also joined the Kansas Army National Guard as a second lieutenant Medical Service Corps. He served a very distinguished military career for a total of 35 years as E-1 to O-6. In1998 he was promoted to the rank of Full Bird Colonel and retired in 2000.
Colonel Ballard is one of two navy corpsmen still alive that received the Medal of Honor. He is the only recipient living in the State of Missouri. Out of 44 million veterans that have served our great country only 3,485 Medals of Honor has been issued and today there are only 80 living.
For a over a decade Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) has focused on healing those who serve. It is through the tremendous contributions of our volunteers and supporters nationwide that last year we served over 7500 deserving members of our armed services. The 12th Annual 2-Fly Tournament will serve to raise funds to provide veterans with the support they need on their journeys to recovery as we continue in our second decade of service. Learn more