Freedom Fighters: J.C. Balch

JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) - J.C. Balch and Thelma were married September 6, 1942.

"I got my draft notice just soon after I got married."

Balch never dreamed that it would be four long years before he would see his wife again. Or that the Army Air Corps would keep him on the ground instead of up in an airplane, just because he answered his captain's one key question.

"He says we understand you know how to operate a PBX switchboard? Yes, sir, I do."

Because of that experience, Balch was put in charge of a communication squad, whom he says, knew much more about communications than he did.

"They had been to school and I was just a raw recruit."

Almost before he knew what was happening, Balch and his communications men were on their way to Europe on the Queen Mary, a luxury liner that had been commandeered to transport troops.

"All I had backing me was I knew how to operate a PBX switchboard."

Balch doesn't remember the names of the various bases in England where he was stationed, but he does remember the air raids.

"I know when they had Axis fighter planes from Germany come over just about three or four times a week."

Balch also remembers on June 6, 1944, seeing top secret preparations for the Normandy invasion.

"I just thought about it all and wondered all those G.I.'s that I had seen coming out of the woods, a lot of them would never get back home again."

Balch didn't have long to wonder before he and his men were sent over to France as well.

"We finally go on into Germany."

When the war ended J.C. sent back home to be met in Texas by his father-in-law, wife and little girl, who had been born while he was in Europe.

"I remember her standing behind her grandad in the front seat, "daddy who's that man sitting in the back seat with my mama?"

Balch says it almost broke his heart, but that too is among the many wounds of war.

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