In Memory of
Richard James Baloun
Highmore, South Dakota
January 24, 1920 -- February 8, 1944
Killed in Action at Anzio, Italy
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 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.
Island is very fertile but the main crop is all types of fruits and
It doesn’t get too warm here. Of course I really could enjoy it all if this
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,
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
Ray wrote to Richard in
a letter dated March 27, 1944:
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;
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.”
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.