Juan Balleza joined the United States Marine Corps at the beginning of his senior year of high school at Fox Tech in San Antonio, Texas. Juan graduated in May of 1950, one month prior to the outset of the Korean War. In July of 1950, Juan was called to active duty and found himself quickly mobilized. In August, he and fellow Marines were transported to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. While at Camp Pendleton he received three weeks of training as an 0311 Infantryman.
Juan’s first combat engagement occurred In late September of 1950. As part of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Juan participated in the Second Battle of Seoul which resulted in the recapture of Seoul by United Nations forces.
Subsequent to his engagement in the Second Battle of Seoul, in October of 1950, Juan’s battalion and regiment moved into North Korea. In late November and December of 1950, amid bitter cold, Juan fought in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir.
After his service, Juan returned to San Antonio.
In 2001, Juan revisited South Korea and was amazed by the modernization of the country as well as the enduring thankfulness of the South Korean people.
Interview, July 14, 2018
Juan Balleza interview, Luby’s Restaurant, San Antonio, Texas.
USS Bayfield, July 1949
Photo provided by Juan Balleza of three Marines. Juan stands center with Alving G. Padilla, Jr., my grandfather, to his left and Freddy De La Rosa to his right.
Korean War - Key Events
April 25, 1951
Vastly outnumbered UN forces check the Chinese advance on Seoul at the Battles of Kapyong and the Imjin River. Two Commonwealth battalions—the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment and the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment—rebuff an entire Chinese division at Kapyong, and 4,000 men of the British 29th Brigade stage a successful delaying action against nearly 30,000 troops of the Chinese 63rd Army at the Imjin River. Some 650 men of the 1st Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment (the “Glorious Glosters”), engage in a Thermopylae-like stand against more than 10,000 Chinese infantry at Imjin. Although the overwhelming majority of the Glosters are killed or captured, their sacrifice allows UN forces to consolidate their lines around the South Korean capital.
These events are taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica