While a student at Michigan State University, “Little Joe” Bale enlisted in the US Army.
He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice I. Bale of 3359 Cortland Ave. in Detroit.
Bale served with the 7th Regiment of the 3rd Division in the invasion of Anzio and
Southern France during World War II. He was killed in the Battle of Colmar Pocket a few weeks after turning 21 years old and honored with the award of the Distinguished Service Cross.
Bale’s battalion was attacked by enemy tanks. He fearlessly returned fire with his rocket launcher, ignoring exploding shells and machine gun bullets in his proximity. Joe knocked out an enemy tank, forcing the Germans to withdraw. Later, the same morning his battalion was again attacked by another tank at 100 yards. Bale again braved shell fire in another single-handed attempt to destroy the tank; unfortunately, he was mortally wounded. The Pfc. Joseph Bale 474 Post was organized on June 9, 1946.
Joseph Bale has been commemorated through living memorials; both a Detroit playfield and a MSU dormitory building were named in his honor. He was a superior athlete at Central High School and Michigan State University, excelling in basketball, cross country, and baseball. In 2011, Michigan Jewish Sports Association honored “Little” Joe Bale by hanging a plaque in their Hall of Fame to honor the memory of those students who served in War and for those who were never were able to fulfill their dream of competing in college sports.