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Sunday, November 11, 2012

John J. Ballard ~ Proud Veteran of the U.S. Navy





It's that day again. The day when I stop all my busy stuff and concentrate on my son. You know, the one who signed up for the Navy as a 16 year old junior in high school. The one who thought it would be a good way to get in some college credits and still be with his long time and closest friends. Some of that worked out. And the friends are still here, so maybe it all worked out.

You made that decision with very little real knowledge of what you would be doing. I signed the papers because I thought you would be traveling around our country or even Europe and seeing things you'd never likely see, otherwise. Neither of us had any hint that you would be called into service in Iran. Neither of us had any notion that you could actually be engaged in a war with a terrorist nation. That big aircraft carrier seemed like a city on the water to me and a bit like a cruising vacation. That was before...

When the call to move the USS Independence to the Gulf for duty, I was petrified. I read your letters, I listened to your tapes and I cried a great deal of the time. I was as much on alert as you were. When you told me your ship was on alert 24/7 I could hear in your voice how stressful this was for all of you. You couldn't hear the stress in my voice because I wrote back. I told you how proud of you I was. I told you how much I worried, but I didn't tell you how much I cried. It wouldn't help you and I couldn't share that.
You told me how prepared you all were to perform the duties you had trained so diligently for the months prior. You told me you were ready for whatever, whenever. I believed you, but I prayed anyway.

I was so relieved when your ship was replaced by another and you were returning to California. I was so grateful to God and Iran for not putting my son's life in jeopardy and for not testing those skills you had worked so hard to develop.  I wanted those skills to go unused. I'm a mom and that's how it is.

Today, I look back and remember, as I always do on Veteran's Day, and I am no less proud of you at this moment in time than I was in your whole Navy career period. Seeing you in that Johnny Cash uniform just made my heart stop. So tall, so handsome, so honorable and so distinguished. All that before your 21st birthday. The day you walked into my salon to surprise me, still brings a tear to my eyes. That black uniform! Those eyes filling with tears when I turned to see you. Mine and yours. The feel of my son in my arms in that uniform! Indescribable. Yet, today, that feeling remains. The pride, the love and the hug of my son remain forefront in my mind. Still makes me happy and still makes me stand a little taller.

A father, a husband, a grandson,an uncle and friend to people I also love, but always my son. My joy, one of my greatest accomplishments as a human.

I love you, so much and again this year, with eyes overflowing, I thank you for your sacrifice for my freedoms, for your dedication to your service and mostly for always loving your mother back.

With unconditional love and appreciation,
From your Mom

16 comments:

  1. Oh forget it! I'm a puddle of tears!

    You've experienced something that I have not, but all I had to do was to imagine one of my own children in that situation, and, well, I could barely breathe as I read your words.

    How proud and thankful you must be. Please thank him for me as well.

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    1. I am. I will do that. Thanks for reading.

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  2. As always you are sooo good at putting your feelings into words..A mothers love is a wonderful thing. Doil

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    1. A son's love is pretty wonderful, also. thank you, Doil.

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  3. Here is John's response....

    Thanks for thinking of me again Mom. I have you and MIke to thank for pushing me to transform mentally and physically. At least I listened to you once ;-) My time there is a great memory. It was certainly stressful but we were prepared for battle. Maybe I never told you but we, the G-2/Weapons Division, were tested. Only with our biggest 'small arms' gun the .50 caliber in The Gulf, and we were successful turning back or destroying (mostly destroying) Saddam's small boat attacks when we were in close sending A-6 jets to land targets. The 'non-action' was loading bombs in the lower magazines for transfer to flight deck and ultimately onto Iraq targets didn't seem dangerous but I suppose it was. Firing the .50 at approaching small boats while wearing a helmet and ducking behind a iron shield seemed much more dangerous. It's long over now so no need to worry :-) Thanks again and I love you for ALWAYS supporting me.

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    1. I did NOT know this until this morning. *thank you, God for protecting and returning my boy.* amen.

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  4. You have every right to be as proud as you want of your son. We are all proud of him! However, my old friend, you shouldn't make old sailors cry on Veterans Day. Gary Smith does love you though, and thank your son for me!

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    1. I have to admit I love touching you enough to pull a tear or two...and you are such an old softie, it really isn't that difficult. ♥

      You know how much I appreciate you and your friendship and your honor in serving your country and I suppose you also know that I think you are one of the kindest and most loving people I know. It is my honor to call you friend.

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  5. Thank your son from me and my family for serving. You are proud of him as you should be and the love shows in your words and in his response!!

    Cheers, Jenn

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    1. And please thank your darling husband from me, as well. Thanks you, Jenn.

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    1. Thank you, Haralee, he is a good son.

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  7. You've got an awesome son there, Jo. God bless him and all our vets for protecting our freedom.

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  8. lovely. I have two little boys and I can't imagine being in your shoes.

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    1. I sincerely hope you never do, Sandra. Bless you and your kiddos.

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