Medal of Honor recipient visits Kennesaw State, calls on Americans to remember veterans

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Early Veterans Day event draws more than 200 Medal of Honor recipient retired Army National Guard…

Georgia (Nov 8, 2013)Early Veterans Day event draws more than 200

Medal of Honor recipient retired Army National Guard Col. Donald “Doc” Ballard, speaking before a crowd of more than 200 at an early Veterans Day event at Kennesaw State University, asked Americans who have not served in the armed forces to remember the country’s veterans.

Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp welcomed Ballard along with a group of veterans and civilians to the Carmichael Student Center University Rooms, where each attendee was handed a small American flag. He said the KSU community is proud of those who have served in the nation’s military. Papp also briefly mentioned his son Alex, who earned the “Top Gun” award in his Air Force graduating class and is an Air Force F-15 pilot in the 67th Fighter Squadron currently stationed at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japan.

“Thank you once again for everything you have done and are doing for this country,” Papp told the veterans. “My own flag, which will be blessed today, will be flying at 40,000 feet with my son at Kadena Air Base.”

Ballard, a popular speaker at Veterans Day events, was a Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class when he risked his life to save members of a company of Marines taking heavy fire from units of the North Vietnamese Army in Quang Tri province on May 16, 1968.

Mixing jokes with life lessons learned in combat, Ballard drew laughs from the crowd when he said, “I know some people who served two or three tours in Vietnam, but I served one tour in Vietnam and that’s all I wanted.”

On a serious note, the Medal of Honor recipient said veterans “need to reach out and educate the 99 percent who didn’t serve” about what it means to be an American and to help restore the country’s greatness.

He also asked that Americans not forget the fallen veterans, especially those who may be homeless. Ballard’s National Combat Medical Memorial group raises funds for veterans in need.

KSU’s Army ROTC Club, Student Veterans Club, Semper Fi Society and Veterans Resource Center helped orchestrate the ceremony, which included an invocation by retired Navy Chaplain, Rabbi Albert Slomovitz, and a blessing of the flags by Dr. Wallace E. Wheeles, senior pastor of Kennesaw United Methodist Church.

An Army ROTC Color Guard performed the Retirement of the Colors at the end of the ceremony, as M.L. “Del” Delamount of Buglers Across America played “Taps.”

At the conclusion of the program, many adjourned to place their flags around a red maple (Autumn Flame) on the Campus Green beside Kennesaw Hall. The tree was planted last spring in honor of 2008 KSU graduate 1st Lt. Jonathan Walsh, who was killed in action in Afghanistan. Walsh was an Army platoon leader.

— Robert S. Godlewski



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit