Former Marine Corps officer John Rushing once said, “In the simple moral maxim the Marine Corps teaches, ‘do the right thing for the right reasons’ no exception exists that says, ‘unless there’s criticism or risk’. Damn the consequences.”
This philosophy was embodied by Lance Cpl. Noah M. Ballow when he displayed courage and commitment beyond the line of duty. On July 7, 2018, he was forced to make a decision: attempt to navigate dangerous ocean currents in an attempt to rescue a drowning man or wait for help. He chose to face the situation with quick and decisive action in an attempt to ensure the safety of a stranger, regardless of the dangers he himself faced.
“I knew he needed help, and I just went,” Ballow said, reflecting on the motivation behind his actions that day. “If someone needs help and you’re there and you can help them, then do it.” Ballow was reflexive in his actions and immediately rose to the occasion.
In recognition of his outstanding bravery, Ballow was presented with the Navy and Marine Corps Medal by Maj. Gen. Kevin M. Liams, commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, during an award ceremony March 12, 2020, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. As the highest noncombat decoration awarded for heroism by the Department of the Navy, the NMCM represents the epitome of honor, courage and commitment.
“You can tell the quality of an individual in the final seconds of a definitive decision.” Maj. Gen. Kevin M. Liams, commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
While enjoying time with his family at the Paradise Village Resort in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, Ballow noticed an elderly man who was struggling to stay afloat after being pulled out to sea by rip currents. Despite the dangerous waters, he swam out in an attempt to calm the victim and assist him back to shore. Given the man’s physical exhaustion and the harsh conditions, his task seemed impossible. Despite the dire situation, the Marine remained calm and kept himself and the man afloat by treading water for several minutes. He then began to swim parallel to the shoreline – with the man in tow – until they eventually arrived at the water’s edge. Once there, he and his father were able to drag the wearied man ashore.
When asked if he was scared during the rescue, Ballow replied, “No, I didn’t think about that, I just went.”
A native of San Diego, California, Ballow now serves as an intelligence specialist with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3 at MCAS Miramar.
Ballow’s actions were the embodiment of the selfless service and bravery for which Marines and Sailors are known. Like the storied warriors who came before him, his actions are an example for all Marines to emulate, both in 3rd MAW and across the Corps.
3rd MAW continues to “Fix, Fly, Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing and remains combat-ready, interoperable, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.