A life of service and saving others

Published 2:23 pm Thursday, January 5, 2017

It’s no surprise that Senior Master Sgt. Donald W. Ballowe has led a life of service.

The Dillwyn native was raised by a family with a heart for the military.

He said his grandfather, Henry Thomas, served in the Army during World War II. His father, Donald Ballowe, and uncles, Randolph Taylor and Billy Ballowe, served in the Army, while his uncles, Athel and Kenny Ballowe, served in the Air Force.

“This long list of family members that honorably served in the military is what drove me to serve my country,” Ballowe said.

The 44-year-old graduated from Buckingham High School in 1990 and immediately began his career in the U.S Air Force. It was a career that lasted 23 years-including a three year break in service- until October when he retired with honors.

“Growing up in Buckingham County established the basis for my hard work ethic and Christian faith,” Ballowe said. “Those two things drove me to always do my best.”

Throughout Ballowe’s career, he served a variety of assignments and positions. He has worked as an aircraft maintenance technician, HH-60G Flight Engineer, career development course writer, flight engineer and special missions aviator 3-level course manager and UH-1N flight engineer.

He was deployed six times — three deployments to Afghanistan, one deployment to Iraq and two deployments to Kuwait.

“My most fulfilling memory from my service was my three deployments to Afghanistan where I was part of a combat rescue/casualty evacuation team that was credited with 277 combat saves and assists,” Ballowe said.

His combat experience spans several operations: Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

“I remember most the many men and women I served with from the Air Force Combat Search and Rescue community that paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Ballowe said.

He said it was an honor to serve in that community, noting he was privileged to be “surrounded by a group of individuals that were willing to risk their life on any given day to save the life of someone else.”

Ballowe officially retired on Oct. 1. Since then, he has found a new position. “I just received a job offer with the Federal Aviation Administration and will be starting work very soon,” he said.

The Senior Master Sergeant is decorated from his tenure in the service. He earned a Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor with one oak leaf cluster, a Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, an Air Medal with Valor with fourteen oak leaf clusters, multiple Air Force Achievement awards and several others.

Ballowe is married to Catherine, who’s from Austin, Texas, and has a daughter, Maggie, who is 8-years-old.

They now live in Chesapeake Beach, Md.

“I’m most proud of my daughter Maggie,” Ballowe said. “She has grown into such a smart and beautiful girl.”

This story has been corrected to reflect the proper age of Maggie Ballowe and clarify Donald Ballowe’s years of service.