Balch, John Henry, CDR

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Last Rank
Last Service Branch
Medical Corps
Last Primary NEC
210X-Medical Corp Officer
Last Rating/NEC Group
Staff Corps Officer
Primary Unit
1917-1919, PhM-0000, 3rd Bn, 6th Marine Regiment (3/6)
Service Years
1917 - 1950
Medical Corps

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Richard Hopka, HM1 to remember Balch, John Henry (MOH), CDR USN(Ret).

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address

Date of Passing
Oct 15, 1980
Location of Interment
Riverside National Cemetery - Riverside, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin World War I Victory Button

 Unofficial Badges 

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

John Henry Balch entered the Navy in Kansas City, Missouri, by volunteering via the officers procurement program.  Before his enlistment on 26 May 1917, he had been a student at Kansas State University in Lawrence.  After his training, he joined the 3d Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and served with it in France.

Before he performed the actions for which he would receive the Medal of Honor, Balch participated in the bloody battle of Belleau Wood.  He subsequently suffered a wound during a battle in the Chateau-Thierry sector.  These harsh introductions to combat, however, failed to discourage him from putting his own life at risk to save other people.  On 18 July 1918, the 6th Marines relieved elements of the 2d Infantry Division, whose units ere weakened and exhausted from the attack on Soissons the day before.  The 6th Marines faced difficulty in properly preparing for another attack in Soissons because of vague orders from the French command.  Despite these problems, and having to pass through areas raked by intense machinegun and artillery fire that caused heavy casualties, the attack progressed according to plan.  The troops had gone 10 kilometers before reaching the wheat field facing the Soissons-Chateau-Thierry highway.  On 19 July, the exhausted and battered troops could barely face another effort.  Nevertheless, the 6th Marines received orders to push the attack forward to the highway, and by late afternoon they had reached all objectives.  However, the battle had been extremely fierce, with heavy artillery and machine-gun fire having caused further casualties.  Of the 2,400 men engaged, 1,300 died or were wounded.  Balch voluntarily left the aid station to help the wounded, fearlessly exposing himself to heavy barrages of enemy fire, and managed to work all day and late into the night for 16 hours straight.  His sustained courage under fire saved the lives of many men.

In the regiment??s attack during the Champagne offensive on 5 October 1918, Balch again showed exceptional bravery by establishing an advanced aid station under heavy shellfire.  On this occasion, with 2,350 Marines engaged, the regiment suffered 940 casualties.

On 19 August 1919, Balch was honorably discharged as a Pharmacist??s Mate First Class.  One-month later, Rear Admiral F. B. Bassett presented the Medal of Honor to him at the YMCA in Chicago, Illinois.  On 2 September 1942, Balch rejoined the Navy as a lieutenant and served in the United States, Australia and the Philippines before retiring on 1 June 1950 from the Naval Reserve as a commander.

In addition to the Medal of Honor,  Balch also received the Distinguished Service Cross (Army), the Silver Star Medal (Army), the French Croix de Guerre with diploma (Gilt Star and Bronze Star), the Italian Crux de Guerre with diploma, and the Portuguese Cruz de Guerra for his actions during World War I.

Other Comments:

                                                      The President of the United States
                                                                  in the name of
                                                                  The Congress
                                                       takes pleasure in presenting the

                                                                  Medal of Honor


                                                             BALCH, JOHN HENRY

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. Entered Service At: Kansas City, Mo. Born: 2 January 1896, Edgerton, Kans.

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.
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 Ribbon Bar

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
(HM) Hospital Corpsman A School3rd Bn, 6th Marine Regiment (3/6)
  1917-1917, PhM-0000, (HM) Hospital Corpsman A School
  1917-1919, PhM-0000, 3rd Bn, 6th Marine Regiment (3/6)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1918-1918 World War I/Battle of Belleau Wood
  1918-1918 World War I/Chateau-Thierry Sector
  1918-1918 World War I/Champagne Sector
  1918-1918 World War I/Battle of Soissons
 Colleges Attended 
Kansas State University
  1915-1917, Kansas State University
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  French Croix de Guerre1
  Portuguese Crois De Guerre1
  Jun 06, 1918, Silver Star Citation:
  Oct 05, 1918, Distinguished Service Cross
  Jul 27, 2005, Navy Pharmacist.s Mate Honored at Dedication Ceremony
  Jun 22, 2012, General Photos1
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