They will always be our little boys and girls and our heroes. When they stood up to serve their country, they became American Heroes. To the world they were soldiers, but to us, they were our world.
1Lt Ken Ballard
son of Karen Meredith
Kenneth Michael Ballard was born in Rome, New York on 7.21.77. He was the only child of Karen Meredith and Tom Ballard.
Ken joined the Army on October 3, 1995. He was sworn in by his favorite Aunt, LTC (Ret) Cathy Patton. He attended basic training at Ft Knox, KY and became a loader on an M1-A1 Abrams tank. His first PCS base was Freidberg, Germany where he was a member of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 37th Regiment, 1st Armored Division. In early 1996 he was sent to Brcko, Bosnia for several months. Then it was back to Germany and then to Macedonia for UN Peacekeeping duties.
While Ken was in Europe, he loved to travel extensively, and he did just that! He traveled to France, Austria, Spain, Greece and all over Germany. During this time, he pursued and won the Gold to Green Army ROTC Scholarship. He attended Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN. He was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Ken received his jump wings at Ft Stewart in the summer of 2000. Ken was commissioned as a 2nd Lt on 5.10.02. His favorite Aunt Cathy swore him in that day, too. His maternal grandfather, LTC (Ret) Russ Meredith, his father Tom and his mom also participated in that enlistment ceremony. Ken graduated from MTSU the next day on 5.11.02 with a Bachelors of Science, and a major in International Relations and minors in History and Economics.
After graduation he completed some advanced training for the Army at Ft Lewis and Ft Hood. He completed Officer's Advanced Basic training at Ft Knox in February 2003. His first assignment as an Armor officer was back to 2nd Battalion, 37th Regiment, 1st Armored Division. Upon arrival in Germany, his unit prepared for deployment to Iraq. They left for Kuwait on 5.12.03 and when the tanks were offloaded and prepared for battle, the march to Baghdad began at the end of May 2003.
Ken was given his own platoon, 2nd Platoon, part of the Crusaders of Charlie Company in the summer of 2003. He felt a tremendous responsibility in keeping his guys safe from harm.
On 04.03.04, the battalion turned in their weapons and were preparing to march out of Baghdad the next week. Ken had expected to be back in Germany by the end of April, 2004. All of that changed on 04.04.04 when battles broke out all over Baghdad. In mid April, the battalion moved south to Al Kut and An Najaf. They were reunited at Camps Baker and Golf.
Ken called me on 5.27.04 for what would be the last time we spoke. We talked for about 40 minutes about what his plans were when he returned home for his month long vacation to Washington, DC, California and Tennessee. If I had a chance to talk to him today, there would be no words that need be spoken, because we always said it all. I just want to hear his voice one more time.
At 8:53 a.m. on 5.31.04, I received the phone call that would change my life. Ken was killed in Najaf, Iraq at 11:55 p.m. 5.30.04 .
son of Catherine Trevino
Sgt Steve Bridges
son of Loretta & Sheldon Bridges
Cpl Sean Langevin
son of Roxane Langevin
Lcpl Travis Layfield
son of Dianne Layfield
Marine Lance Corporal Infantry man, and radio operator 2004' Operation Iraqi Freedom I became a Gold Star Mother, not by choice, but by God's will. Travis graduated High-school in Fremont, Ca. June 2003. 10 days later he went to MCRD for boot-camp. In Sept. 2003 we went down to MCRD to support our Son with such Pride, that he had become a U.S.Marine. Travis came home with us for a few short weeks. We had such a wonderful time with him. Travis got to visit with all his family, and friends, as he knew he would be deploying in Feb/Mar. time frame. While still home, in Oct. we took him to a Brooks n Dunn Country Concert, at Shoreline in Mt. View. They are Travis' and my favorite. As they played my favorite song, "Neon Moon " Travis took my hand and walked me up to the top of the hill, and danced with me under the Beautiful Star lit sky. Little did we know that would be our last dance together.
In Feb. his Dad, brother Tyler and I went down to see Travis one more time before he deployed to Iraq. We spent 3 amazing days together, just being a wonderful family, and fun, such a memorable time with him. When it was time to leave, we had hugged, kissed, and said our "see you laters". As we drove away I so wanted to jump out of that car and go back and just hold him 1 more time, but as I looked back Travis was walking up to meet up with his buddies. We had no idea, that would be the last time we would ever see our Travis on this earth. I only got to talk by phone with him a few short times, as Travis was only in Iraq a few short weeks before he was killed in a horrible ambush that April 6th 2004, morning, with 9 Marine Brothers, and 1 Navy Corpsman. A Tragic, tragic day. 1 of the worst 3 hr. Battles in Marine Corps History.
Through our devastation, 2 ½ yrs. after Travis' death, we found out he has fathered a son, a son he never knew he had. Travis' Legacy still lives on. His son is now a part of our lives, and for this our family is blessed. Travis, and all of our Fallen are loved and missed beyond the Heavens. The Void in our hearts, and pain will never go away. Something we have to learn to live with.
I'd like to share a 5 min. video about my son, I did in memory and with pride. Our Fallen Warrior
Travis was just 19. Now he is at his Final Post.