‘No man left behind’ as Florence veterans lay unclaimed U.S. Navy veteran to rest

News13 Digital First

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A U.S. Navy veteran was given one final salute and laid to rest by a group of Florence veterans who he had never met Wednesday afternoon.

Kenneth L. Ballard was a U.S. Navy veteran who passed away on April 1, of this year at 67 years old. While he may have died alone, local veterans were not going to let his sacrifice go unrecognized.

“If they didn’t have family, we are their family, we take care of them,” Missing in America Project Coordinator Larry Traux told News13.

No family or friends were able to be identified but that did not stop Ballard from being left forgotten. Missing in America is a nonprofit organization that provides honor and respect to veterans who have served this country by securing a final resting place for those who may no longer have family.

Florence veterans and project coordinators who never met Ballard tell News13 they had still made a promise to him. “Whether a soldier is out on the battlefield or being laid to rest, no man is left behind,” Truax said.

On Wednesday, veterans served veterans at a ceremony in Florence alongside The Missing in America Project to honor Kenneth L. Ballard in a final resting place with the highest appreciation with rituals including a flag ceremony and prayer.

Veterans like Ballard deserve to be honored, laid to rest, and taken care of. “We want to send them out with the highest appreciation of their loved ones and their loved one’s service and support of their loved ones,” Michael Davis, MA1 First Class said.

Even though the veterans who attended today’s event did not know Ballard personally, their promise to have his back was not broken.

“You make a lot of statements when you are in a service. You say no man is left behind. I got you six which means I got your back. Those things sound trivial but they’re not, they are true statements,” Truax said.

No man was left behind in Florence today. For more info on the Missing in America Project, visit their website here.

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