|On November 3, 1969 Corpsman HM3 Joel
Arnold Balcom gallantly gave his life in the service of our country
while participating in a Medical Evacuation mission near Hill 10 in
Quang Nam Province, Republic Of Vietnam. Joel was a Corpsman attached to
and in support of First Tank Battalion, First Marine Division at the time
of his death.
Here is an account of the incident that took the life of Corpsman HM3 Joel A. Balcom as well as some personal reflections as related by David H. Gard. At the time Joel's close friend and fellow Corpsman.:
Joel had less than two weeks left in country and was not required to take the Jeep ambulance out to recover wounded. When the call came for medical assistance, he jumped in the Jeep and went out the road from 1st Tanks toward Hill 10. After approximately an eight minute transit time, he arrived and loaded up three Marines (not from 1st Tanks) and headed toward the 1st Tanks BAS. His ambulance hit a land mine; he was the only one killed. The road had not been swept for mines as it was not yet Sun-Up.
Joel was selfless and a hard worker. He worked hard and played hard.
Although he was of the Mormon faith, he did, occasionally, drink beer and whiskey, though he wasn't given to getting tipsy. Our first job together was as part of a sailing crew in Boot Camp. I had sailed (as I do now) since I was seven years old and lead our Boot Camp boat team to the banner for sailing.
Joel had a profound effect on all that met him.
|This photo of Joel taken in perhaps Oct 69 finds him tired. At twenty two years of age he carried the knowledge of a forty year old.|
|This photo of Joel in his leather coat exudes his primary personality quality -- not cocky, not confident; somewhere between self assured and impudent.|
|This photo of Joel in his white uniform shows the man I came to know in Boot Camp and Corps School.|
|Joel's senior high school picture shows a lad ready for what the World offers; he is expectant and hopeful.|
|Panel 16W - Row 022|
[ A Poem For Joel ]
[ Casualty Stats ]
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|The photographs were contributed by Arthur Balcom and Irene Balcom, Joel's father and mother. The account and photo captions were contributed by David H. Gard, MD.
My thanks to Arthur, Irene and to David for their generosity and heart felt openness, it is deeply appreciated.
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