(WGHP) — Amanda Ballard is a proud military mom.
Becoming a U.S. Marine was a dream for her son, Jacob Levy, ever since the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“He was asking questions about what had happened, and it amazed me. At that point, he said, ‘Mom, I want to be a Marine. I want to be the one that’s going to get the guy that did this,'” Ballard said. “And he’s 11 years old, so I kind of laughed at him and said, ‘son, by the time you get old enough to go, this will be over.'”
By 2009, the war wasn’t even close to being over and, as a senior at Eastern Randolph High School, Levy enlisted in the Marines. He was on the front lines at the height of the war in 2011 when a major development came out of Pakistan.
Osama bin Laden was dead, and Levy was coming home.
“He was there when bin Laden was killed. He was able to open a map and say, ‘mom, here’s his compound, I was right here.’ And I’m thinking at 11 years old, you set a goal and you accomplished it ten years later,” Ballard said.
Levy returned home on Mother’s Day, but he didn’t stay long. He told his mom he couldn’t stay because too many of his brothers were still over there, and he felt like he didn’t finish the job.
His second deployment was to Afghanistan in October 2011.
“The last call I got from him was November the 14th, and he told me, ‘mom we’re going into a hotspot. I won’t be able to talk for a couple of weeks. Tell everybody I love them,'” Ballard said.
The next time she’d see her son was in the hospital in Germany. At just 21 years old, Levy had been shot in the head by a sniper and was on life support.
“I walked into my son’s room, and he just had a bandage around his head,” Ballard said. “The typical response of a mom when you see your baby for the first time, you pull the covers back, count fingers and toes and make sure they’re all there. And he was perfect except for the bandage.”
Just over ten years after the 9-11 terror attacks that led him to become a U.S. Marine, Levy died on Dec. 10, 2011, with his mom at his side.
Fittingly, she learned then that her son was an organ donor.
“He didn’t just give his life once for people he never knew,” Ballard said. “He did it seven more times.”