Donald Ballard was born on 5 December 1945 in Kansas City, MO. At the time of action, he was a Hospital Corpsman Third Class, USN. His citation reads, “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Corpsman with Company M, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division in connection with operations against enemy aggressor forces on 16 May 1968. During the afternoon hours, Company M was moving to join the remainder of the 3rd Battalion in Quang Tri Province. After treating and evacuating two heat casualties, Petty Officer Ballard was returning 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, he unhesitatingly moved across the fire-swept terrain to the injured man and swiftly rendered medical assistance to his comrade. Petty Officer Ballard then directed four Marines to carry the casualty to a position of relative safety. As the four 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, 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. Petty Officer 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. By his courage, daring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, Petty Officer Ballard reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States naval service.”
Donald Ballard left the U.S. Navy in 1970. He joined the U.S. Army National Guard and retired as a colonel.