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Commander Ballard grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and graduated from Purdue University in 2003, earning a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. After graduation he briefly worked for the US House of Representatives as a Legislative Correspondent. He reported to Officer Candidate School at NAS Pensacola in February of 2005. After Commissioning he began primary flight training with the “Warbucks” of Training Squadron FOUR (VT-4), followed by intermediate and advanced training with the 562nd Flying Training Squadron at Randolph AFB, San Antonio, TX where he earned his Naval Flight Officer Wings of Gold in February of 2007.
After completing the EP-3E Fleet Replacement NFO syllabus at VP-30 in October of 2007, Commander Ballard reported to the “Rangers” of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron TWO (VQ-2) at NAS Whidbey Island, WA. While at VQ-2, Commander Ballard deployed on multiple occasions to the CENTCOM, EUCOM, and SOUTHCOM AORs. His duties at VQ-2 included Assistant Operations Officer, Schedules Officer, Assistant Tactics Officer, Assistant NFO NATOPS Instructor, and EP-3E Electronic Warfare Mission Commander.
In October 2010, Commander Ballard completed the F/A-18F Super Hornet Weapon System Operator (WSO) syllabus at VFA-122 and then reported to the “Vampires” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron NINE (VX-9). While assigned to VX-9, he worked as a member of the VX-9 Detachment Nellis in Las Vegas, NV where he served as an Operational Test Director (OTD) for all Naval Aviation Enterprise test events at the Nevada Test and Training Range. While performing his primary duties as an OTD and F/A-18 WSO, Commander Ballard was able to maintain his EP-3E qualifications and graduate from the EP-3E Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course.
In August of 2013, Commander Ballard reported to the “Wizards” of Patrol Squadron Special Projects TWO (VPU-2) at MCBH Kaneohe Bay, HI. While assigned to VPU-2, he served as a P-3 Special Projects Mission Commander and Sensor Coordinator augmenting deployed forces in the AFRICOM, EUCOM, INDOPACOM, and CENTCOM AORs. His duties included Assistant NATOPS Officer, Assistant Training Officer, and NFO NATOPS Evaluator.
Commander Ballard returned to NAS Whidbey Island, WA in February of 2017, this time for his Aviation Department Head Tour with the World Watchers of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron ONE (VQ-1). While assigned to VQ-1 he deployed as a Detachment Officer-in-Charge (OIC) to EUCOM, AFRICOM, CENTCOM and INDOPACOM. His squadron duties included Operations Officer, Safety/NATOPS Officer, EP-3E Electronic Warfare Mission Commander, and NFO Assistant NATOPS Instructor.Â
Following his tour at VQ-1, Commander Ballard reported in July of 2019 to the 1st Joint Special Operations Air Component (1st JSOAC) at Fort Bragg, NC. While at 1st JSOAC, Commander Ballard work in the Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Directorate as the Chief of Current Operations. He was responsible for organizing and executing Airborne ISR Operations against time-sensitive targets in multiple Joint Operating Environments around the globe. He deployed to the CENTCOM and AFRICOM AORs numerous times as an Airborne ISR Battle Captain and as a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment OIC.
Commander Ballard has been serving as the Executive Officer of Navy Talent Acquisitions Group (NTAG) Empire State since November 2021.
Over his flying career he has accumulated over 3,000 flight hours in seven different naval aircraft. In addition to his BA degrees, he holds a Masters of Diplomacy from Norwich University. His personal decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (3), Joint Commendation Medal (with “C” device), Navy Commendation Medal (2), Air Force Commendation Medal, Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3), and various unit, campaign, and service awards.