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Special Agent Jay Balchunas passed away after being shot on October 29, 2004.
MADISON — While observing National Police Week (May 12 - May 18), Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen encourages all of Wisconsin to remember Department of Justice (DOJ) – Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Special Agent Jay Balchunas. Special Agent Balchunas was shot on October 29, 2004, while working undercover as part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force in Milwaukee. A week after the shooting, Balchunas passed away at the age of 34.
Tomorrow, Mary Kay and Don Balchunas, Jay’s parents, will receive two awards in his honor during a ceremony at the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum and Visitors Center at Pentagon City in Arlington, VA. The DEA Museum will host a live webcast of the ceremony beginning at 10 am CT on the Museum’s website (www.deamuseum.org). According to the website, the service is held annually during National Police Week to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for drug law enforcement. The DOJ’s DCI Administrator, David Matthews, will be in attendance.
At tomorrow’s ceremony, Jay’s parents will be receiving the DEA Purple Heart Award, which recognizes those who are injured or killed in the line of duty. Mary Kay and Don Balchunas also will be receiving the DEA Administrator’s Award of Valor, which is “the second highest award granted for a voluntary act or acts of exceptional heroism while in performance of duty involving risk of personal safety and life” and granted in “only very unusual circumstances.” The Award of Valor, according to the DEA, is given for an act of “personal bravery or outstanding courage, or laudable law enforcement action or service so noteworthy as to clearly distinguish the individual and enhance the prestige of the DEA.”
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice has honored Jay every year since his untimely death and it is tremendously gratifying to see the DEA honor him as well. These awards show that Jay died not only in service to his state but also his country.” Attorney General Van Hollen said.
Jay’s name is already inscribed on the wall at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. Click the following links for recently taken photos from the Memorial.
For more information about the private scholarship fund that exists in Jay’s memory, visit www.jaybalchunas.org.