John Balch was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1915 and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in the class of 1939. As a Lieutenant Commander, he served as the first executive officer of the USS Bennion. He initially held the dual role of executive officer and navigator, but the latter job was transferred to Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Morrison. As second in command of the Bennion, Balch also served as the evaluator of the Combat Information Center. He and his team advised the commanding officer regarding dangers in navigation and maintained a continuous up-to-date picture of targets on the surface, under water, and in the air. He was awarded the Legion of Merit during his service aboard the Bennion. After leaving the ship, he was commanding officer aboard the USS Remey (DD-688) and served in various capacities before retiring with the rank of Captain in 1967. After his retirement, he worked as a secondary school teacher for several years before retiring again. Captain Balch died in 1993 in Annapolis, Maryland.