http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2012/05/25/council-ok-with-lt-ballard-post-office-dedication


Mountain View Voice

News - May 25, 2012

Council OK with Lt. Ballard post office dedication

by Daniel DeBolt

On Tuesday the City Council endorsed the dedication of the Hope Street post office in memory of fallen U.S. Army Lt. Ken Ballard.

Council members voted 5-2 in favor at the May 22 meeting, with council members Tom Means and John Inks abstaining.

"I appreciate the council taking this under consideration tonight," said Ballard's mother Karen Meredith. "Ken did live most of his life in Mountain View and was very proud to be from Mountain View."

Ballard died May 30, 2004 while serving in the An Najaf area of Iraq. The highly decorated Army lieutenant and Mountain View High School graduate was 26.

The council's endorsement of Meredith's request will allow Congresswoman Anna Eshoo to enlist the sponsorship of California's Congressional delegation, which is required for the bill allowing the post office dedication. A plaque would be installed somewhere on the building.

The post office branch would not be renamed "the Lt. Ken Ballard post office" but "ceremonially and in terms of memory it would be," said Kimberly Thomas, assistant to the city manager. She added that the post office could still be dedicated to other soldiers as has been done in other places.

Council member Tom Means noted two other young Mountain View soldiers also perished fighting in the Middle East. Lakeina M. Francis was killed aboard the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen by a terrorist bomb in 2000. Kyle Wieland died in late 2003 from injuries sustained while fighting in Afghanistan. Means and other council members said it would be worthwhile to somehow honor them as well, with member Margaret Abe-Koga saying more time should be taken to include them before Eshoo goes through the trouble of passing a bill in Congress. But in the end, council members decided to vote on what was in front of them.

There was one opponent to the dedication who spoke Tuesday.

"We should dedicate the post office to those who died giving their lives to peace and not war," said resident Greg Coladonato.

"I too was against the war, we should never have been there, but we are," said council member Jac Siegel. "This lady's son went there because it was an honorable thing to do and I respect that."

Ballard was leading a platoon in Iraq when fighting broke out in April 2004, delaying a trip home he was planning for that month. His original cause of death was "small arms fire" but Army officials later revealed that he had been killed accidentally by the unmanned machine gun on his tank. He received three bronze stars and the Purple Heart, and he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and honored at a funeral attended by over 500 people. His mother went on to regularly speak out against the Iraq war and made sure his story was widely told.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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