Two of the Vietnam era recipients were both cited for actions in May of 1968.
On May 2, 1968, Livingston, then a Marine captain, led his men across 500 meters of open rice paddy to assault an entrenched enemy position that had isolated a Marine company from the rest of its battalion. Despite being twice wounded, Livingston refused medical treatment and continued to lead the assault. He and his men destroyed more than 100 enemy bunkers, freeing the trapped unit. Even after receiving a third wound, Livingston refused evacuation until he had directed his men in fighting off an enemy counterattack.
On May 16, 1968, Ballard, was a Navy hospital corpsman assigned to a Marine infantry unit. Ballard treated a wounded Marine and directed four others to evacuate the wounded man. At that moment, an enemy soldier emerged from a concealed position and hurled a grenade at the six Americans. After shouting a warning to the other, Ballard through himself on the explosive device to absorb its blast.
When the grenade failed to detonate, Ballard remained in the same dangerous spot and continued to treat the wounded.
In addition to his recognition from the governor, Ballard will get some other special treatment at the celebration. Because his plane will be arriving so late at Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, he will be ferried to Battlefield Park in a Black Hawk helicopter.
Referring to Medal of Honor recipients as winners is incorrect, said Sawyers, a former Marine staff sergeant who served in Vietnam. “The Medal of Honor is not something that military people compete for or go into action seeking to ‘win.’ Recipients are usually ordinary people put into extraordinary circumstances who respond with extraordinary courage.”
The Medal of Honor recipients will be available during the celebration to autograph copies of the book “Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty.” Ballard and author Charles Wright will be autographing copies of “Doc: Heroic Stories of Medics, Corpsmen and Surgeons in Combat.”
Bill Robinson can be reached at email@example.com or at 623-1669, Ext. 267.