John Henry Balch (January 6, 1896–October 15, 1980) was born in Edgarton, Kansas to Henry Armstead and Mary Magdelene (Seckinger) Balch . Little is known of his life prior to his enlistment in the Navy in May of 1917.
John had been a student at Kansas State University when he enlisted in the Navy officers training program on May 26, 1917. Once enlisted John was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and served in France during World War I.
John fought in several battles during his service of World War I. In 1918 in the Battle of Belleau Wood (June 1-June 26, 1918) John was wounded. Later he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his brave actions at Vierzy, France (July 19, 1918) and Somme-Py, France (October 5, 1918). In these battles John is said to have established an aid station under intense enemy fire and to have carried wounded Marines to safety. On August 19, 1919 John Balch was honorably discharged as Pharmacist's Mate First class. A month later Rear Admiral F. B. Bassett presented him with the Medal of Honor at the YMCA in Chicago, Illinois.
Between the two World Wars John is said to have quit the Navy and opened a men's clothing store in Chicago, Illinois. Little else is known of his time between the two wars.
Later, in the midst of World War II, John would rejoin the Navy as a Lieutenant and spend some time serving in the United States, Australia and the Philippines. Finally on June 1, 1950 John retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of commander.
On October 15, 1980 John Henry Balch would pass away and be buried in the Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California. In 2005 a naval clinic, in Quantico, Virginia was renamed the John Balch Clinic in his honor.
"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."
Genealogy of John Henry:
Father: Henry Armstead Balch
Mother: Mary Magdelene Seckinger
Wife: Elizabeth "Betty" Peck
1. No Children