World War II took four of the five Balen brothers to battles in Europe and Japan. Mike’s company took him to Leyte and Okinawa, Nick was at the Battle of the Bulge, John was in Australia and Matt was going to be sent to Normandy. However, the sudden death of their mother prevented Matt from accompanying his unit to Normandy and was allowed home for the funeral. Over the years the war took its toll. Battlefields and service in all branches took the lives of other family members and future brother-in-laws.
When World War II broke out and the draft started to take the boys from Lake County the Balen Family was hit pretty hard. They were a large family of nine children, five boys and four girls. Four of the brothers; Mike, Nick, John and Matt were drafted to serve their country in Europe and Japan. The eldest son Steve was the only one not drafted. Maybe because he needed to stay and care for his infant daughter, or maybe because his Dad told his friend at the induction center that if he took his last son he’d be back for a not so friendly visit. Either way, somehow Steve’s draft notice never came.