Arthur T. Ballard, Jr., Former POW Headed West

Super Sabre Society member Air Force Lt. Col. A. T. Ballard, Jr., 87, of Spartanburg, SC, died Thursday, May 23, 2019. Lt. Col. Ballard was the second son of nine children born to Arthur T. Ballard, Sr. and Carrie DeStaffno Ballard and is survived by four siblings: Wayne Ballard (Gail) of Spartanburg, Evelyn Ballard of Spartanburg, James Ballard (Sally) of Colbert, GA, and Carolyn Ballard Davis of Spartanburg; also surviving is daughter-in-law, Elizabeth “Libby” Johnson of Moorpark, CA. He was predeceased by his wife, Ruth Searcy Ballard; and his son, Dr. Kevin D. Ballard.

Lt. Col. Ballard was a graduate of Spartanburg High School, Spartanburg Junior College and attended Clemson University before he joined the United States Air Force in January 1955, as an Aviation Cadet and flew F-100s with the 479FDW, 436TFS, deployed to Wheelus AB, Lybia.

He served as a fighter pilot in various Jet Tactical Squadrons in the United States, Tripoli, Okinawa, and Thailand where he flew missions over North Vietnam during the war with that country. While on a combat mission on September 26, 1966, his jet was hit by an enemy missile or antiaircraft flack. Lt. Col. Ballard ejected safely from his aircraft, but was captured by the North Vietnamese and was taken to the Hanoi POW prison. He remained a POW until released at the end of the war, March 1973.

Due to combat injuries, Lt. Col. Ballard was unable to return to duty as an aircraft pilot. He was assigned to Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, where he attended and graduated from the Air Force War College in 1975. He then served on the War College Faculty until he entered Troy State University in 1976, from which he received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Degrees.

Among the military honors awarded Lt. Col. Ballard was the following: The Silver Star, The Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and two Purple Hearts. He was also the honored recipient of the SC Order of the Palmetto from Governor McMaster as well as a unanimous commendation from the U.S. Congress.

Lt. Col. Ballard retired from the USAF and accepted a position as R.O.T.C. Senior Instructor with Gaffney Senior High School, Gaffney, SC. He retired from this second career in 1997.

Because he strongly believed in youth education, Lt. Col. Ballard established a scholarship with Spartanburg Methodist College in the name of his wife, Ruth Searcy Ballard, and at Wofford College, in the name of his son, Dr. Kevin D. Ballard.

Visitation was held at First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, SC, conducted by The Rev. Dr. Donald J. Wilton and The Rev. Sam Davis. Entombment, with military honors, will be at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens Mausoleum Complex, 1300 Fernwood-Glendale Rd., Spartanburg, SC 29307.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Ruth Searcy Ballard Scholarship Fund, Attn: Spartanburg Methodist College Development Office, 1000 Powell Mill Road, Spartanburg, SC 2930; or The Dr. Kevin Dale Ballard 1980 Endowed Scholarship Fund, Attn: Wofford College Office of Advancement, 429 North Church Street, Spartanburg, SC.

To read Ted Ballard’s Biography, go to

I was a cellmate of Ted’s for many moons, and I don’t mind telling you, if you’re ever in a prisoner-of-war camp, get cellmates like Ted Ballard! He was always a step ahead with his thinking. He loved memory games, mnemonics, and little tricks to help remember things. If you ever tried to pull a fast one on him, he’d just smile and say, “Nice try.” He loved learning, and he loved flying. He was the greatest guy; I’m so sad he’s gone, and I will miss getting emails from the good Ted Ballard. God rest this nice man’s soul.

Larry Friese – June 30 at 02:32 PM

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