John Henry Balch MOH

b. 02/01/1896 Edgerton, Kansas. d. 15/10/1980 Sun City, California.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 19/07/1918 Vierzy and Somme-Py, France.

John H Balch MOH

Balch enlisted in the Navy in Kansas City, Missouri under an officers training program. Prior to his enlistment on May 26, 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 October 5, 1918, he showed exceptional bravery by establishing an aid station under intense fire. Acting as a Pharmacist’s Mate, he was credited with carrying wounded Marines to safety and thereby saving their lives.

On August 19, 1919, Balch received an honorable discharge as a Pharmacist’s Mate First Class. He was presented the Medal of Honor by Admiral William A Moffett at the Great Lakes Naval Station in October 1919. In September 1942, Balch rejoined the Navy as a lieutenant and served stateside as well as Australia and the Philippines before eventually retiring on June 1, 1950 from the Naval Reserve with the rank of commander and one of the most decorated sailors in US Navy history. As well as his Medal of Honor, he had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, 3 Silver Stars, and a Navy Commendation Medal. 



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