Commander John H. Balch, USNR, (1896-1980)



John Henry Balch was born on 2 January 1896 in Edgerton, Kansas. He attended pre-medical schooling at Kansas State University before enlisting in the U.S. Navy from Missouri in May 1917. During World War I, Balch was a Pharmacist's Mate First Class and served with the U.S. Marine Corps in the Third Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment. On 19 July 1918, during a fierce battle at Vierzy, France, he voluntarily left his dressing station for 16 hours and exposed himself to enemy fire and explosives while attending to the wounded. On 5 October 1918, at Somme-Py, France, he bravely set up an advanced dressing station while under fire. For his "gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life" on both of these occasions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

In August 1919, Pharmacist's Mate First Class Balch was honorably discharged and in September received his Medal of Honor by Rear Admiral Frederick B. Bassett at the YMCA in Chicago, Illinois. During World War II, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in September 1942 in the U.S. Naval Reserves, serving in Australia and the Philippines. In June 1950, he was promoted to Commander. During 1956, he left the Naval Reserves. John H. Balch died on 15 October 1980 and is buried at Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, California.

This page features all the images we have concerning John H. Balch.


Click photograph for a larger image

Photo #: NH 79437

Commander John H. Balch, USNR


Photographed circa 1950. In 1918, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in action at Vierzy, France on 19 July 1918 and at Somme-Py, France on 5 October 1918. He served with the Third Battalion, Sixth Regiment Marines.

NHHC Collection

Online Image: 77KB; 625 x 765

 
Photo #: NH 80570

Corpsman John H. Balch, USN


Pictured visiting Washington, D.C. in June 1917 while awaiting shipment overseas.

Collection of Commander John H. Balch, USN, (Retired).

NHHC Collection

Online Image: 91KB; 740 x 520

 
Photo #: NH 80571

Corpsman John H. Balch, USN


Pictured visiting Washington, D.C. in June 1917 while awaiting shipment overseas. The other man is not identified.

Collection of Commander John H. Balch, USN, (Retired).

NHHC Collection

Online Image: 46KB; 465 x 7650

 
Photo #: NH 80566

Pharmacist's Mate First Class John H. Balch, USN


Photographed in France, May 1919, while awaiting shipment home from Saint Nazaire. He is wearing an Army uniform (2nd Division, "Indianhead"), with Marine Corps insignia. He received the Medal of Honor for heroism.

Collection of Commander John H. Balch, USN, (Retired).

NHHC Collection

Online Image: 42KB; 450 x 765

 
Photo #: NH 80567

Pharmacist's Mate First Class John H. Balch, USN


Photograph taken in May 1919. This photograph is a cropped version of NH 80566.

Collection of Commander John H. Balch, USN, (Retired).

NHHC Collection

Online Image: 63KB; 575 x 765

 
Photo #: NH 80568

Pharmacist's Mate First Class John H. Balch, USN


Receives the Medal of Honor from Rear Admiral Frederick B. Bassett, USN, at the YMCA at Chicago, Illinois in September 1919. He is wearing an Army uniform of the "Indianhead" Division.

Collection of Commander John H. Balch, USN, (Retired).

NHHC Collection

Online Image: 53KB; 545 x 765

 
Photo #: NH 80569

Pharmacist's Mate First Class John H. Balch, USN


Friends admire his Medal of Honor just after it was presented to him at the YMCA in Chicago, Illinois in September 1919.

Collection of Commander John H. Balch, USN, (Retired).

NHHC Collection

Online Image: 61KB; 740 x 570

 
Photo #: NH 104884

John H. Balch


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, published in "1974, Navy Birthday, 13 October - A Proud Tradition", page 34, by the Chief of Naval Operations, United States Navy, 1974. The book was done as a planning book for Commanding Officers for celebrations and publicity.
He received the Medal of Honor during World War I for his bravery assisting wounded U.S. Marines in battle on 8 July and 5 October 1918.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C.

NHHC Collection

Online Image: 63KB; 590 x 765

 



Medal of Honor citation of Pharmacist's Mate First Class John Henry Balch, USN (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 113):

"For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, with the Sixth Regiment, United States Marines, in action at Vierzy, on 19 July 1918. BALCH unhesitatingly and fearlessly exposed himself to terrific machine-gun 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 on a field torn by shell and machine-gun fire. Also in the action at Somme-Py on 5 October 1918, he exhibited exceptional bravery in establishing an advanced dressing station under heavy shellfire."


For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions





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