John Henry Balch was born on 2 January 1896 in Edgerton, Kansas. On 26 May 1917, he enlisted for four years as a hospital apprentice second class at the Navy Recruiting Station in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He served at the Seaman’s Quarters at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., and at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland. He transferred to the 3d Battalion, 6th Regiment of Marines, which was serving with the U.S. Army in France as part of the American Expeditionary Force, on 27 July 1917. He advanced in rate to pharmacist’s mate third class on 1 November 1917, pharmacist’s mate second class on 10 May 1918, and to pharmacist’s mate first class seven days later.
Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Balch saw action during the battle of Belleau Wood and was wounded during a battle in the ChatĂȘau-Thierry sector. On 19 July 1918 at Vierzy, 2,400 men engaged in a fierce, bloody battle, of which 1,300 died or were wounded. PhM1c Balch worked tirelessly for at least 16 hours straight, voluntarily leaving the aid station and fearlessly exposing himself to enemy fire in order to render care to the wounded.
During the battle at Somme-Py on 5 October, PhM1c Balch again showed exceptional bravery by establishing an advanced aid station under heavy shellfire. He received the Medal of Honor for his fearless devotion to duty during both that battle and the fighting at Vierzy. 
Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Balch was discharged from active service on 19 August 1919. One month later, Rear Admiral Frederic D. Bassett, Jr. presented the Medal of Honor to him at the YMCA in Chicago, Illinois. On 2 September 1942, he rejoined the Naval Reserve as a lieutenant and served in the United States, Australia, and the Philippines. He retired on 1 June 1950 as a commander.
Commander Balch passed away 15 October 1980 and was laid to rest in Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Cdr Balch received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, 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.

Navy Medal of Honor recipients serving with Marine units at the time of award.

Marine Corps University