In Memory of
Army S/Sgt.
Richard James Baloun
Highmore, South Dakota
Hyde County
January 24, 1920 -- February 8, 1944
Killed in Action at Anzio, Italy

Richard James Baloun

Richard James Baloun was born in Highmore, South Dakota, on January 24, 1920.  He attended rural school in Northern Hyde County.  He went to Highmore High School his freshman year, and his next three years he attended Seneca High School, graduating in 1938.  For the next three years he went to Northern State Teachers College in Aberdeen.  There he took a civilian pilot training course.  Then he went to Lincoln, Nebraska, for advanced civilian pilot training. 

Richard volunteered for the Army Air Corps in June of 1942 as a gilder pilot.  He later transferred to the post of Air Observer.  Richard received his training at California Aero Academy, Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, Ohio Locksburne Army Air Base, Texas Randolph Field, Oklahoma Glider Training Center, Waco Flying Field, Texas, and Oklahoma’s Fort Sill.  After he had completed all of this, he was issued his silver wings by his General and awarded the rank of staff sergeant.  The last field where S/Sgt. Baloun was stationed in the United States was Camp Picket, Virginia, where he was an instructor for awhile. 

In February of 1943 his engagement to Miss Jevene Lockard from Frensno, Ohio, was announced. When Richard was selected for overseas duty, he spent ten days in Norfolk, Virginia, patrolling the East Coast and training with the field artillery and with the Carrier landings.  He reached North Africa the latter part of May, 1943.  There he took part in the Invasion of Sicily, flying sixty-one hours in that campaign as air observer for the field artillery.  He had two crash landings while he was in Italy.  He suffered head wounds and was in the hospital for a short time.

While overseas, Richard wrote his brother, Ray.

I hope I don’t have to explain to you why I haven’t had time to write to
you. I am sure you listen to the war news. You no doubt know that I am
in Sicily and have been here since the beginning so that should answer your
question concerning me being in action.

The Island is very fertile but the main crop is all types of fruits and vegetables.
It doesn’t get too warm here. Of course I really could enjoy it all if this was
a vacation but we are here for another purpose.... I have had a couple ones
since I have been here, but I guess that is to be expected. 

In another letter, Richard wrote

I received a letter from you some time ago, of course, at that time I was
not in Italy. I like the country here very much, it is very mountainous, but
very pretty.

Ray wrote to Richard in a letter dated March 27, 1944:

We haven’t heard from you for ages. Hope you are all right and safe.
We are all right out here and have lots of courage, all of us.  We hear
the war news and it’s a bad situation, but we are all hoping for the  
best news to come some day soon.... Hope this letter reaches you and
finds you all right and safe. Please deliver this letter to Richard; it’s
from home and with lots of luck and love.        

This letter was returned to Ray with “Deceased” stamped on it. His brother, Ray, said that “Richard was a brother who was going to fulfill his duties; that’s why he was there for that duty.” Ray also told us that “Richard and I were very close to each other; he was a smart fellow.”

Army S/Sgt. Richard James Baloun met his death while on active duty on the Anzio Beachhead.  He was killed instantly on February 8, at about 10:30 PM when a 150-mm shell directly hit the tent in which he and several of his comrades were sleeping.  Richard was buried at the Anzio-Nettuno U. S. Military Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy, about thirty-five miles south of Rome.

Richard Baloun was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart for “valor and service to his country.”

Richard James Baloun

This entry was respectfully submitted by Leslie A. Reiswig, 8th Grade West, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, November 3, 2000.  Information for this entry was provided by Geneva Fieldsend and Ray Baloun, siblings of S/Sgt Richard James Baloun.