Thieves target Medal of Honor recipient

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GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. -- Thieves targeted the only living Congressional Medal of Honor recipient in Missouri over the weekend -- stealing cash, gold coins, and weapons worth more than $100,000.

The burglary happened at Swan Lake Memorial Park in eastern Jackson County.

Col. Don "Doc" Ballard runs this cemetery for veterans and their families. All of the cash taken was used for his Forgotten Veterans program, which pays funeral expenses for veterans who don't qualify for benefits.

The crooks broke into a maintenance building at the cemetery during the weekend.

Ballard and his wife were in Washington, D.C., presenting a civilian medal of honor award to an extraordinary citizen, while a different type of citizen was busy ransacking his back office.

Among the collectibles stolen were a Medal of Honor ring, gold coins, and honors given to Ballard by presidents and other dignitaries over the years.

"A lot of stuff I will never be able to recover because the type of person who stole this is probably going to melt it down rather than see the core value of it," Ballard said. "Rings, a Medal of Honor ring. Luckily I was wearing the Medal of Honor itself or it would have been gone."

The Ballards are in the process of moving and had been using the maintenance building to temporarily store some of their most prized possessions. The thieves got away with thousands of dollars in cash, the result of several months worth of fundraising, but Ballard said he won't let it stop his efforts to help veterans in need.

Jackson County Sheriff's deputies are investigating the break-in. If you can help detectives with information about this case, call the TIPS hotline at (816) 474-8477.

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