|Cpl. John Balaban served with these men from the 26th Infantry Regiment as it attacked Aachen.|
John A. Balaban never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on June 5, 1918 in Pennsylvania. His parents John and Catherine were born in Galacia and Croatia, respectively. His father worked as a coal miner and later as a cutting machine operator. John had two older sisters, one older brother, and two younger sisters. By 1940 he had completed four years of high school and was living at home. He worked for the Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation and the A&P Supermarket.
He was drafted into the army on January 28, 1942. He became a corporal in Company D, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.
He first saw action in North Africa and a battle wound at El Guettor left him in a hospital for seven months. He rejoined his unit in Sicily and also took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, reaching Omaha Beach on the evening of June 6, 1944. After breaking out of Normandy, the 1st ID crossed the Belgium border in early September.
On September 14 the 26th IR crossed the border into Germany near Aachen. Fighting for the next few days was not heavy but Cpl. Balaban's unit did take harassing and defensive artillery fire on September 18, the day he was killed in action.
His grave is at St John's Cemetery in Connellville, Pennsylvania.
Last year on this date I profiled POW Nile Ballard, 34th Infantry Division. You can read about Nile here.
On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!
I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
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