Santa Clarita War Memorial

Joseph B. Balsz.

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Home of Record: Saugus, CA
Date of Birth: November 29, 1919

Service: Army of the United States
Rank: Private First Class
ID No: 39262290
Specialty: Chauffer and driver; bus, taxi, truck, tractor
Selective Service Registration Date: July 1, 1941
Start Tour: Enlisted October 24, 1942
Length of Service: 1 year 9 months
Unit: 230th Military Police Company

Incident & Casualty Date: August 31, 1944
Location: Oran, Algeria
Casualty Reason: Traffic accident
Age at Loss: 24
Remains: North Africa American Cemetery, Tunis, Tunisia
(Plot F Row 2 Grave 12)


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PFC Joseph B. Balsz (middle initial only) was born in 1919 to the progenitors of the local Balsz family of Honby (Saugus) — Bertolo B. "Bert" Balsz (of German descent) and Belen "Minnie" Bindiola (Apache Indian). Joseph Balsz was working as a farm laborer on the Lombardi Ranch in Saugus when he registered for the draft in 1941, and he was married and living on the Balsz ranch in Honby when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942. He was assigned to the 230th Military Police company, which was originally established in 1918 and served in Europe in both world wars.

During World War II, the 230th MP Company was activated January 10, 1942, to guard warehouses, piers and facilities at the New Orleans Port of Embarkation, which it did until December 10, 1943. Then,

on December 15, 1943, the 230th MP Company was reactivated at Oran, Algeria, assigned to the Mediterranean Base Section and staffed utilizing personnel from the concurrently inactivated 2636th Provisional MP Company. The company was delegated the same port security mission performed by the predecessor unit but also provided the guards for the 70th General Hospital in Oran. In addition, the company was required to establish special detachments and assign them the tasks of guarding mail shipments and conducting motorcycle patrols along the roads of the area. During these patrols, PFC Joseph Balsz and PFC Kensicki were killed in traffic accidents and were buried at the American Cemetery at Oran. (Source: Gunnarsson, Robert L. Sr., "American Military Police in Europe, 1945-1991," Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company Inc., 2011.)

About a year prior to his death as a result of the traffic accident, Joseph Balsz was wounded by the accidental explosion of a hand grenade.

Balsz's interment record lists a temporary cemetery location, which might explain the reference to his burial in the Algerian city of Oran. His final resting place is the North Africa American Cemetery in Tunisia.

Research assistance from Tricia Lemon Putnam.

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19 Soledad Twp. Registrants in 29th Draft Call.

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The names of 18 draft registrants from Soledad township are listed on the twenty-ninth induction call for Army service by local Draft Board No. 175. The names appear in a list containing a total of 59 selectees who are to appear at draft headquarters in Palmdale Saturday.

Soledad township names follow.

William R. Bowman, Newhall.

Robert Metcalf, Newhall.

Albert Louis, Newhall.

Clyde M. Poppelman, Newhall.

William T. Houchen, Newhall.

Thomas U. Kane, Newhall.

Joseph B. Balsz, Saugus.

Lewis M. Anderson, Saugus.

Joseph A. Albrecht, Saugus.

Benigno N. Martel, Saugus.

Peter J. Garvin, Newhall.

Wymer L. Smith, Newhall.

Bob L. Wilson, Newhall.

Merle L. Gilmour, Saugus.

Bernard Wilkins, Saugus.

Robert Huff, Acton.

Eduardo L. Appelzoller, Saugus

John F. Flint, Newhall.

The contingent is one of the largest called up by the board. The majority of the men called are from Antelope township.

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News About Service Men.

PFC Balsz Loses Life in Algiers Accident.

Mr. and Mrs. Bert Balsz of Honby have received a telegram from the war department that their son, Pfc. Joseph Balsz, lost his life as the result of a vehicle accident in Algiers on August 31. A year ago, the young soldier was wounded by the accidental explosion of a hand grenade.

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War Chest Up to 40 Percent of Quota Set.

Subscriptions to the War Chest reported up to Tuesday night had brought the total up to 40 percent of quota, Campaign Chairman Milton Ball said Wednesday.

A striking instance of generosity, and one which might put many to shame, was that of the Balsz family of Honby. Last week every adult in the family donated a pint of blood, and this week, every individual adult and children gave something to the War Chest. A son, Pfc. Joseph Balsz, gave his life in Algiers not long ago.


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Legion Gives Gold Star Citations.

The Gold Star Citation program marking the first Mother's Day since the end of the war, was carried out under the auspices of the Newhall Saugus Post at the School auditorium Sunday night as planned, with a large number of district Legion officers and Legionnaires present.

The public showed only a moderate interest in the patriotic proceedings and the auditorium was about half full.

In addition to the awarding of citations to the families of fallen heroes, a mass initiation inducting nine young veterans into the Post was carried out.

The principal speeches were made by Department Commander Bob Snyder, who emphasized the Legion principles of service to community, state and nation. Commander Snyder also took personal charge of the initiation.

The presentation of citations was made by James Howie, who prefaced the ceremony by a vigorous speech in which he denounced the labor strikes, the black market, the prevailing greed, selfishness and apathy of the public. Hammering the table with his fist he asserted that "something has got to be done."

Flowers to Mrs. Balsz.

The citations were presented to the mothers and fathers of 12 of the 19 gold star names printed on the program, the relatives of five not being present. Mrs. Balsz, mother of Joseph Balsz, also received a bouquet of flowers in tribute to her being the oldest mother on the rostrum.

Committee Chairman Bill Gulley presided. Bill Reynolds of San Fernando acted as master of ceremonies, introducing all visiting Legionnaires with highly laudatory remarks. The only people he failed to introduce were the relatives of the gold star heroes, in whose honor the program was given.

Among those presented to the audience were S.S. Donaldson, who made the address of welcome; Bill Schussler, Kalman Held, Tom O'Keefe, Merle Horn, Commander Butcher, Fred Reed, Ernest T. Wood, Mrs. Bob Snyder; Mrs. Frank Weston, representing the Legion Auxiliary of Newhall, and Inspector Larry Hossack, representing Sheriff Gene Biscailuz.

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Jimmy Cash Pleases.

Jimmie Cash, Castaic boy who is attracting notice on the air, sang a solo, "That Wonderful Mother of Mine," in a clear, pleasant tenor voice, and later led the audience in singing the National Anthem. Mrs. Ruth Jones supplied the piano accompaniments. Members of the Newhall Community Church choir sang processional and recessional. Rev. John Christensen pronounced the invocation.

One of the best talks of the evening was made by Rev. Thomas O'Malley, who paid tribute to three departed service men whose names were unwittingly left off the program. These men were William P. Simpson, William S. Hatton and Earl Whitmire. Another name, that of Eugene Darr, was also brought to light after the conclusion of the program. Darr died on Okinawa.

One of the most impressive features of the evening was the posting of the colors. They were advanced to the nostrum by Frank Williams, district sergeant at arms; Floyd Vawter, Jack Hammell and Joe Warmuth of the local post, to martial drum beats by members of the Castaic Corps. The colors were similarly retired, and at the conclusion of the program all present stood with bowed heads in a thirty second period of silence.

About the North Africa American Cemetery
From the American Battle Monuments Commission:

At the 27-acre North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Tunisia rest 2,841 of our military dead, their headstones set in straight lines subdivided into nine rectangular plots by wide paths, with decorative pools at their intersections. Along the southeast edge of the burial area, bordering the tree-lined terrace leading to the memorial is the Wall of the Missing. On this wall 3,724 names are engraved. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. Most honored here lost their lives in World War II in military activities ranging from North Africa to the Persian Gulf.

The chapel and the memorial court, which contain large maps in mosaic and ceramic depicting the operations and supply activities of American forces across Africa to the Persian Gulf, were designed to harmonize with local architecture. The chapel interior is decorated with polished marble, flags and sculpture.

North Africa American Cemetery is located in close proximity to the site of the ancient city of Carthage, Tunisia, destroyed by the Romans in 146 B.C., and lies over part of the site of Roman Carthage. It is near the present town of the same name, 10 miles from the city of Tunis and 5 miles from its airport. The "La Marsa" railroad runs from the center of Tunis to Amilcar station, a 5-minute walk from the cemetery; taxicabs are available at Tunis and at the airport. There are good hotel accommodations in Tunis as well as in the vicinity of the cemetery at Carthage, Sidi Bou Said, La Marsa and Gammarth.

North Africa American Cemetery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cemetery is closed on weekends, and U.S. and Tunisian holidays. GPS Coordinates: N36 51.918 E10 19.876.

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