Terry W. Ball, Jr. – Gunnery Sergeant, United States Marine Corps

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 807-05
August 8, 2005

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Gunnery Sergeant Terry W. Ball Jr., 36, of East Peoria, Illinois, died August  5, 2005, from wounds received as a result of an explosion while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Karmah, Iraq, on June 12, 2005.  He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Family grieves loss of Marine

Wife: ‘He promised he would come home, and he did'
Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Terry Ball Jr. promised his wife and three children he would make it home from Iraq. He kept that promise, although he was in a coma when his fellow Marines carried him off the plane from Germany.

Ball, 36, spent another month at a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, trying to recover from the horrific wounds of war – the brain injuries, the kidney damage, the amputation of his left leg – before dying suddenly Friday after an operation when his blood pressure dropped.

His wife, Jennifer, was in a social worker's office at the time trying to arrange for him to be flown to a hospital in Tampa, Florida, for rehabilitation.

“He promised he would come home, and he did,” Jennifer Ball said Tuesday. “I think that's all he could do.”

A memorial service for Ball will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Remmert Funeral Home in East Peoria. He later will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Ball nearly died several times after he was injured June 12, 2005, by a roadside bomb. Jennifer Ball said he lost 85 percent of his blood.

“They didn't know how he made it to the hospital,” she said. “They didn't now how he made it out of Iraq.”

Ball was in a coma for almost eight weeks but came out of it July 29, 2005, the week before he died. He was able to recognize his wife and see his three children. The two older children, 8-year-old Gavin and 5-year-old Riley, stood outside the room and looked at him. Ethan, the 1-year-old, who had seen his father only in videos and pictures since his deployment, called out for his father and cried.

President Bush came to the hospital July 31 to award him a Purple Heart, but Ball slept through it. He also has been awarded the Bronze Star.

Because of a tracheal tube, Ball could only mouth words to his wife. He seemed angry and in pain.

“There were times I couldn't understand what he was saying, and it was frustrating for us,” Jennifer Ball said.

Ball, who grew up in East Peoria where he was a co-captain of the wrestling and football teams, joined the Marines with his cousin, Jeff, for adventure.

“He was a leader,” said high school friend Tom Simpson. “You always knew he had your back.”

His football coach, Jim Dulin, remembered his work ethic.

“I've been coaching a long time,” Dulin said. “There's 15 or 20 kids you never forget. He was one of them. A hard worker, an overachiever, one of the kids you never had to worry about.”

Ball made the Marines his career and served in Operation Desert Storm and Kosovo. He had also been to Haiti, Turkey and Japan.

Jennifer Ball said they never even considered the possibility that he could be killed.

“It was never even in the realm of possibility as far as we were concerned,” she said. “He had been in dangerous places before, and he had always come home.”

After this stint in Iraq, Ball planned to see the family's new home in North Carolina, which had been built while he was away. He wanted to visit Disney World and Arlington National Cemetery and go fishing with his oldest son, Gavin.

Three days ago, Gavin received a card Ball wrote May 20, 2005, from Iraq, saying he was looking forward to taking the boat out.

“He cried, and he bargained with God and he said, ‘Please don't bury my daddy,' Jennifer Ball said. “He cried himself to sleep.”

At age 35, she is just starting to think about how she will make her life without the husband she considered her best friend and how she will raise their grieving children.

“Even though he was gone, he was always coming home,” Jennifer Ball said. “I'm going to try to raise the kids the way I would have if he were still here.”

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