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Sergeant First Class Jeanne M. Balcombe | United States Army Military Police Corps, U.S. Government United States Army Military Police Corps, U.S. Government

Sergeant First Class

Jeanne M. Balcombe

United States Army Military Police Corps, U.S. Government

End of Watch: Saturday, August 21, 1999

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 33

Tour: 15 years

Badge # Not available

Military veteran

Cause: Gunfire

Location: Overseas

Weapon: Handgun

Offender: Sentenced to life

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Sergeant Jeanne Balcombe was shot and killed at Camp Red Cloud, South Korea, by one of her own soldiers. The suspect, who was drunk at the time, was upset that Sergeant Balcombe had ordered a blood test on one of the suspect's friends. He then overpowered a South Korean soldier stationed at the base and took his sidearm. He shot Sergeant Balcombe three times, including once in the head, before fleeing the base. He was captured later in the day by Korean National Police officers with the murder weapon still in his possession.

The suspect was convicted of capital murder by General Court Martial and sentenced to life in prison.

Sergeant Balcombe was a member of the 55th Military Police Company. She is survived by her husband and two daughters.

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Most Recent Reflection

Dear Balcombe Family and Friends,

There was a kid from my high school that graduated the year before me. He had joined the Army, and went to South Korea for his first duty station. He had grown up like other kids in the Hillsboro region, nothing spectacular. While not really friends, we lived in a small community where most folks got along, and he picked me up one afternoon to memorize lines for our upcoming “Oedipus Rex” reading in our theater class. We went over to Christy’s house, because she was reading as Antigone. Both of them were seniors, and even though I liked Christy more than a little, it seemed the two had more in common, and I think that there may have been secret intensions for the meeting in the first place. That is probably why, after the reading, I sat alone on the living room couch for a while.

I learned of Jeanne’s death in basic training. Yet, I had never met her before. I had learned of her death from a letter from my family. They, too, had never known her. Jacob Bowley, the kid in my theater class with Christy, had been the cause of Jeanne’s death.

Strangely, after a few years in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), I went to Korea, living at Camp Sears in the Uijeongbu enclave. This was not strange for a Soldier because many tend to PCS to Korea after Campbell, but it was strange that, knowing what I learned from that family letter and subsequent news reports about the incident, that I would be so close to the place a person I knew committed an atrocity.

The moment I saw the monument outside of the CRC TMC, my heart sank. While I reiterate that I never knew Jeanne and barely knew Jacob, just visiting the scene nearly three years after the incident did something to me. I ETS’d from Korea and became an MP in the guard. I had Jeanne’s dogtag made for me, and I’ve kept it on me since.

The fight is always going on, and at times you have to accept that you have to trust yourself more than you can others. You have to remember where you come from, where you’ve been, and you have to use these lessons where you are going. The right people at the right time leave us when we least expect it, and they rip our hearts out when they’re gone. But they also leave their essences behind as they go, and, if you are also a right person, that essence ignites something within. And it stays with you.

I am writing about Jeanne as a personal, virtual influence in an upcoming book, and if you have additional memories you’d like to share, I would love to hear about them. I think eventually a biography about Jeanne is something that should be written as well. Please let me know what you think.

Anthony Wynands (former warrant officer)
November 16, 2017

 

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