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First Name: John

Last Name: Balch

Birthplace: Edgerton, KS, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: Kansas City, MO
Middle Name: Henry

Date of Birth: 02 January 1896

Date of Death: 15 October 1980

Rank or Rate: Commander

Years Served: 1917-1919, 1942-1950
John Henry Balch

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John Henry Balch

Commander, U.S. Navy

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War I

Commander John Henry Balch (2 January 1896 - 15 October 1980) was a U.S. Navy officer who received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War I.

John Henry Balch was born on 2 January 1896 in Edgerton, KS. He enlisted in the Navy in Kansas City, MO, under an officers training program. Prior to his enlistment on 26 May 1917, he had been a student at Kansas State University. After the training program, he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and served in France during World War I.

Prior to the actions in which he was subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor, Balch was involved in the Battle of Belleau Wood where he was wounded. On 5 October 1918, he showed exceptional bravery by establishing an aid station under intense fire. Acting as a Pharmacists Mate, he was credited with carrying wounded Marines to safety and thereby saving their lives.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Pharmacist's Mate First Class, U.S. Navy.

Place and date: Vierzy, France, and Somme-Py, France, 19 July and 5 October 1918.

Citation: For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, with the 6th Regiment, U.S. Marines, in action at Vierzy, on 19 July 1918. Balch unhesitatingly and fearlessly exposed himself to terrific machinegun and high-explosive fire to succor the wounded as they fell in the attack, leaving his dressing station voluntarily and keeping up the work all day and late into the night unceasingly for 16 hours. Also in the action at Somme-Py on 5 October 1918, he exhibited exceptional bravery in establishing an advanced dressing station under heavy shellfire.

On 19 August 1919, Balch received an honorable discharge as a Pharmacist's Mate First Class.

One month later, he was presented the Medal of Honor by Rear Admiral F. B. Bassett at the YMCA in Chicago, IL.

In the midst of World War II, Balch rejoined the Navy as a Lieutenant and served stateside as well as Australia and the Philippines before eventually retiring on 1 June 1950 from the Naval Reserve with the rank of Commander. He was also one of the most decorated sailors in the U.S. Navy at that time.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross (Inter-service Award by US Army)
Silver Star Medal (Inter-service Award by US Army)
French Croix de Guerre with Diploma
Italian Crux de Guerre
Portuguese Croix de Guerre

Death and Burial

Commander John Henry Balch died on 15 October 1980. He is buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, CA, in Section 2, Grave 1925.

Honoree ID: 1734   Created by: MHOH




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