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.