D-Day Hero – Captain Sam H. Ball, Jr.

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That’s my Great Uncle Son, Captain Sam H. Ball, Jr. receiving from Gen. Sir Bernard L. Montgomery himself the Distinguished Service Order of Great Britain in a field in Normandy.

Uncle Son was among the first of those who washed ashore on D-Day despite being fired upon by the waiting Germans. His mission was to clear underwater obstacles on the beach during the landing. Half his men failed to land and 25 percent of those who did, were casualties. Those who were left, rallied around Uncle Son as he reorganized the company and led them into the assault.

In a letter home to his parents, Bye and Wevie Ball he stated, “I am very happy to still be moving around. We were the assault engineers on the beaches of France. We came in as assault forces, so you see we were first. Whatever you picture was true. Our job was to demolish the beach obstacles, which we did. We did a beautiful job. I am sure proud of my company. When they said, ‘War is hell,’ they sure said a mouthful. You know it’s a funny feeling when you get off a boat and are being shot at with machine and rifle fire. Sure, we were scared. A man who is not is crazy. They they start throwing mortar and 88s at you. It’s not good for your health. Believe it or not, I didn’t even get a scratch, but my pants were sure being fanned by a machine gun.”

Then in November of 1944, he added the Bronze Star to his medals.

This is a picture of Uncle Son, with his wife Melba on his right, and my grandmother Mary Parks his sister, on his left.

My grandmother was always so proud of him. Up until the day she moved out of our house and into the assisted living center, she had a copy of his DSO hanging on her wall. She told any and every one who would listen, all about it.

I’m so thankful I didn’t let her toss all this stuff out, and I’m happy to let you know my Uncle Son was a great man. He was always kind to me and I consider it a privilege that I knew him. He was a true hero to me, and to our country.

You may be gone from this earth Uncle Son, but you are certainly not forgotten.


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9 comments on “D-Day Hero – Captain Sam H. Ball, Jr.

  1. My father served under Captain Sam Ball in the Hurtgen Forest. He was 1st lieutenant William A. Anderson. He also received the Bronze Star for the attack on Vossenack, along with Captain Ball. He died when I was a kid o I didn’t get to learn much about his experiences. But I’m sure he had a lot of respect for Captain Ball.

    • Thank you so much for commenting on this post. I have forwarded your information to both of Uncle Son’s children who will be glad to know this.

      • Susie I enjoyed the article on your Uncle Sammy Ball.
        My dad is at the top of the stairs in the reunion and my mother next to him.
        I am the heavy set kid at the bottom right in a white shirt.
        Do you have Cowan relatives in Oklahoma?
        Ken Green
        Seminole, Ok

  2. Susie – My son made me aware of this testimony on your Great Uncle Capt Sam Ball. Based on oral history from my mother, my father — Lt. Refert Croon — was aboard Boat #1 along with Capt Ball during the Omaha Beach assault. Also, based on my brother’s recollection, we have to presume that Captain Ball took his side arm to the head of a landing craft captain when that captain wanted to drop them off in 20′ of water. Told him to either take the landing craft in closer or he would.

    I can remember some names from my childhood – Capt Ball, Capt Pipka, and Dr. Goldman. However, my father never spoke about his actions during the European Campaign, although he earned Five Battle Stars from Omaha Beach to Pilsen Czech. He preferred to keep those memories to himself. I’m certain my father and Capt Ball shared many of their combat experience.

    Thought you might like to have a photo my father took while Capt Ball was awarded the Brit DSO from Gen Montgomery. It shows MGEN Patton along with Gen Bradley were in attendance. Also, MGEN Lesley MvNair was reading the Award orders — just a few days prior to his battlefield death.

    I also enclose a group photo of Maj Baker, Maj Howard, my father Lt Croon, and Capt Dolan.

    [Will try photos in separate comment, otherwise contact me via e-mail for the pictures.]

    If you have any recollections from Capt Ball about my father, I would be very appreciative. My father passed away some time ago.

    Larry Croon
    Clifton, Virginia

  3. Croon Photos:

    [Sorry — can not post photos here.]

  4. My Father, Wayne H. Brooks Pvt. was in boat team one, now 91 years old, told me stories for years, never saw a Picture of your Dad until recently, felt like I knew him from my Father’s accounts. My Father was with your dad all the way through until wars end. My Father was part of the engineers assigned as infantry during the Battle of the Bulge, he told me, I wish who ever the guy is that keeps volunteering us for these jobs and getting all the medals would give it a rest.

  5. Hi Greg, thanks for your comment. I have sent your message on to my cousin Sam Ball, III. That is really amazing, and please tell your father I thank him for his service to our country.

  6. I am not good with social media, but I did know Sam Ball when he sold radio advertising time for KTFS Radio. On a particularly rainy day, Sam and I waited for a break in get rain to call on clients. I asked him a pit his service, particularly on D- Day because I was an anniversary. I won’t forget that day ever, or when we had a private interview with General Patton’s son when he came to Texarkana for a speaking engagement. Sam was the best, in every sense of the word.

  7. Hi, Susie. My name is John Antkowiak, and I’m a public historian living in NC at the moment. I’ve been collecting the history of the 146th ECB since about 2004; your great uncle’s name is well known to me. I’ve been contacted a number of times by family members wanting to know about their family’s service with this unit and consider myself blessed beyond words that I’ve been able to do that to some extent. Anyone who wishes may reach me at john_antkowiak@yahoo.com. In the meantime I have some questions for you regarding some of the images you’ve uploaded here and on the 2013 thread. Specifically, I was hoping it might be possible to scan a few of them (not all of them!) to a larger file size. With luck, that would enable a closer look at some of their details. Thank you for publishing these pages – you never know how you enrich people’s lives until you do something like this!

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