Samuel Jose Balladares – Private First Class, United States Marine Corps

Run Date: 28 February 2002

Marines pause to make safety plans

A recent rash of deaths and injuries has received the attention of the Marine Corps Commandant and leaders at Camp Lejeune.

Eighteen Marines and one Sailor died in accidents in January, while one Marine committed suicide and four others were seriously injured. According to the Marine Corps, 36 service members have lost their lives over the last six months — more than in the same time frame over the past six years.

As a result, Marine Corps installations worldwide are taking steps to address issues of troop safety both on and off  bases. At Camp Lejeune, a standdown on all training and exercises has been ordered for today.

“This carnage is unacceptable,” said Commandant General James L. Jones. “Our Corps is famous for its self discipline, but each time a Marine drives drunk or recklessly that discipline fails. There is no destination so important that it is worth your life.”

In announcing a standdown at Lejeune, Major General John Sattler, Commander of the 2nd Marine Division, said he expects safety issues to be addressed “at all levels with a focus on answering this fundamental question: How do we reduce the number of accidents?

“This is not intended to be an hour-long videotape or half-hour safety brief. This is a daylong professional exchange of information and exercised leadership,” Sattler said.

Sattler said he wants all the Marines and sailors in his command to formalize and implement specific tactics, techniques, and procedures they can use to protect their force.

The January deaths include a New River Air Station sergeant who died on a motorcycle when he crossed the centerline while attempting to pass a vehicle and was struck head on by another vehicle.

Two Camp Lejeune Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were injured when two pallets were blown into the air by exhaust from a C-17 landing at Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan. Three other Marines from the 26th MEU who were injured when an object in a burn pit exploded.

The seven-person crew of a KC-130R from Miramar Air Station in California perished in a crash during an approach to an airfield in Pakistan. Two Marines were killed and five others injured aboard a CH-53E when it crashed during a resupply flight in northern Afghanistan. The helicopter, assigned to the 15th MEU, also was from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Miramar.

February is proving to be at least as deadly for local Marines.

On February 13, Lance Corporal Roger Diequez-Rodriquez, 20, an artilleryman from Headquarters Battery, 5th  Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, died from chest injuries sustained when he was crushed by the barrel of a 155mm M-198 howitzer that slid unexpectedly during maintenance.

On February 18, Private First Class Jorge C. Delgado Jr., 18, and Private First Class Samuel J. Balladares, 19, both infantrymen from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, died as a result of multiple injuries sustained in an early morning accident on Interstate 95 near Greensville, Virginia, as they were returning from the long Presidents Day holiday weekend.

Gunnery Sergeant Gregory Quillin, 37 of Marine Aircraft Group 29 at New River Air Station died as a result of injuries sustained when his Harley-Davidson motorcycle was struck by a car on Western Boulevard February 20.

Two days later Lance Corporal Bruce Paul Taylor III, 19, of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 162 at New River Air Station was driving a government vehicle when he tried to pass another vehicle on U.S. 17 near Maysville and initiated a seven-car pile up that claimed the life of one local man and sent three others to the hospital.


Of Sterling, Virginia, on Monday, February 18, 2002. Beloved son of Jose and Elba Balladares; brother of Karen Latham, Janet Herman and Dahlia Balladares. Funeral services will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2719 Hunter Mill Rd., Oakton, Virginia, on Wednesday, February 27 at 11 a.m. Interment Arlington National Cemetery.

Sam was a loving son, supportive brother, a caring friend and a proud Marine. He became a Marine, which was the culmination of his boyhood dreams. Sammy, we miss you more than words can say.

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