Brothers Served in WW2 a Half a World Apart

By KBJR News 1

May 18, 2011 Updated May 18, 2011 at 9:53 PM CDT

Washington, D.C. (Northland's NewsCenter) - For some of members of the Greatest Generation, serving in the second world war was a family affair. An experience that was often separated by geography.

Honor Flight Northland recently flew 100 Northland veterans to Washington, D.C to reflect on their time in service.

Steve Balach was called to Active Duty in 1940.

In the final years of the war a routine Navy mission in the Pacific turned tragic for his crew.

"In December of 1944 I was kamikazed in the Battle of Ormac Bay."

Balach was left unscathed, but others weren't so lucky.

"It killed 70 men, wounded another 100," Balach said. "We were lucky to stay alive, stay afloat. It was a major battle. Four or five American ships sank."

Steve's brother, Joseph, was a B-26 pilot during the war, flying more than 50 missions over Europe.

"I think I'm the only individual that did bombings with a lunch everyday for nine weeks, but I survived.

On the trip to the nation's capitol with Honor flight Northland, the two brothers were joined by family member, Steve Balach Junior.

"For me World War II almost has mythological proportions and I remember I grew up in the 50s," said Balach Junior, "I remember during the time of the Vietnam War. Military Service wasn't served as a virtue."

Balach Jr. is a Duluth Morgan Park graduate, now working as a teacher in D.C. He's never experienced warfare, but has heard the vivid stories of his father's and uncle's battles.

"They both are now affiliated with Veterans of Foreign Wars and everything. They sacrificed a lot in their lives."

Sacrifices honored at the World War II memorial and by close loved ones.

Steve and Joseph's two other brothers also served in World War Two.
One fought in the battle of the bulge, the other served as a captain of a Cruiser.

Tomorrow night (5/19), we continue our series honoring the Northland's Greatest Generation. Kevin Jacobsen takes a look at how some World War two veterans may be gone but not forgotten.

Written for the web by Kevin Jacobsen