Cpl. Bill Balzano (retired) with his Bronze Star (Photo: Johnny
CARMEL – The year was 1966 when Bill Balzano joined five other
young men from Carmel who joined the Marine Corps.
A little more than a year later, Balzano, assigned as a machine gunner
with a security platoon in Vietnam, Ninth Marine Amphibious Brigade, came
under enemy fire on the morning of June 6, 1967.
Lance Corporal Balzano, along with 17 men, was defending a vital radio
relay position and during the initial assault by as many as 90 North Vietnamese
Regulars, six Marines were killed and four others seriously wounded.
Balzano, former Kent Police chief, and a member of the police force for
a quarter century, relocated his M-60 machine gun to the rear of his foxhole
which the military said “caused him to be exposed to heavy enemy
Balzano fired his M-60 at the charging enemy stopping the forward aggression.
During the battle, the Marines reported “Corporal Balzano suppressed
the enemy from his fighting position, all under a barrage of enemy fire
and explosive projectiles directed at destroying the last machine gun
protecting the hill.”
While repelling the enemy, Balzano suffered a head wound. The military
reported: “In the face of all this adversity, he maintained continuous
fire with his machine gun, rifle and grenades to protect the vital communication
Almost 51 years later, Balzano was honored by the Marine Corps when the
Putnam hero was presented with a Bronze Star w/Combat V in Providence,
Rhode Island, while federal officials, family members and close friends
from Putnam looked on.
Johnny B traveled to the Ocean State along with former Kent Police officers
Kevin Douchkoff, Nick Balzano, Jerry Raneri, Jimmy Camardella and Dennis
John said he was never “more proud being an American. To see my
dear friend Bill Balzano receive his well deserved medal decades later,
was an inspiring experience and one that I will never forget.”
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