Major Steven Ballard
Royal Marine | 1970 – 2003
Stephen Ballard, who died on 31 March, 2003, aged 33, was an experienced professional who was passionate about his life in the Royal Marines.
Major Ballard died from natural causes after a long and stressful day co-ordinating battle operations at the 3 Commando Royal Marine headquarters near Az Zubayr in southern Iraq.
He had been suffering from an undetected heart condition known as primary cardiomyopathy – a weakening of the heart muscle which resulted in an arrhythmia.
Major Ballard’s wife, Lucy, who is now bringing up their daughter Connie alone, said her husband had been “desperate” to go to war and fight with his troops.
Major Stephen Alexis Ballard was from Swindon and was one of four brothers. He joined the Royal Marines in 1994 and been promoted to the rank of Major in 2001.
At the time of his death, Major Ballard had been married to Lucy for 18 months and she was pregnant with Connie when he died.
Lucy Ballard said: “He was a courageous man who wanted to serve with, and for his men. My eternal sadness is that he never met his daughter and she is growing up without her wonderful father.”
An electro-cardiogram revealing Major Ballard’s heart defect was taken after he suffered a badly broken leg in a motorbike accident in 1997. However, doctors failed to notice the abnormality.
Subsequently, medics who passed Major Ballard as fit to serve in Iraq relied wholly on the Major’s own estimation of his recovery from the motorbike accident.
Whether Major Ballard himself was aware of his heart condition is not known but what cannot be denied is his determination to return to his Squadron and lead his men in battle.
After his death, his family released a statement which said: “He was passionate about his life in the Royal Marines and proud to be a marine.”
With Major Ballard’s death the Royal Marines lost a professional and courageous soldier who was popular with his colleagues and with his men.
His family lost a much-loved son, brother, husband and father.
He died doing the job he loved, fighting for his country as a Royal Marine, alongside men who both liked and respected him.
His family’s statement concluded: “Stephen’s family, colleagues and wide circle of friends are devastated by his death which leaves a great void.”