Gainesville rolls out red carpet for Medal of Honor recipients - - No One Gets You Closer

Gainesville rolls out red carpet for Medal of Honor recipients


GAINESVILLE, TX -- Don "Doc" Ballard earned his Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War, when he rescued 12 wounded Marines during an enemy ambush.

"One of the hand grenades came in and hit me on the helmet while I was working on a Marine," he said.

The Marines he saved nominated Ballard for the honor for "his courage, daring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger," according to his Medal of Honor citation.

"I wear the medal for all the war heroes that didn't come home. The ones that actually paid the supreme price of dying for this country," he said.

Ballard started the Medal of Honor Host City Program in Gainesville 12 years ago. 

It's grown in size over the years and this week, 14 recipients will be welcomed to the north Texas city.

Patriot Guard Riders from Oklahoma helped escort the honorees that flew into DFW airport.

"We have a philosophy," biker David Engelhardt said. "Our soldiers can't not fight because it's raining or hot so we owe them the same dignity. Rain, cold, whatever, we're going to ride for them."

The recipients will attend several events over the next five days, including a ground-breaking ceremony at a Medal of Honor park on I-35 and California on Friday at 9:30am.

A parade planned for Saturday at 10am. For a complete list of event details, go to

Organizers say it's a chance to honor some of our nation's greatest heroes.

"It is the highlight of the year for Gainesville," Medal of Honor board of directors member Gary Cox said. "These guys coming in is the highlight of our year."