After the war the four brothers came home with memories that would forever change their lives. They lost their mother as well as many of their childhood friends. Uncle Mike had it the worst. He suffered many sleepless nights and would eventually be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The family doctor told Grandpa that he would keep an exam room open any time Uncle Mike needed him. “Just bring him in”, is what the doc said.
That’s when Grandpa bought the farm land. Maybe he thought that if he could keep Uncle Mike busy and surrounded him with family he could somehow work through it all.
Image Credit: A cavalry weapons troop moves from the beach past splintered trees and fires caused by the heavy bombardment preceding their landing on Leyte Island in the Philippines. Creative Commons 2.0 Generic from otisarchives2 photostream.
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.