The City of Bayonne recently welcomed Korean War veteran and retired Bayonne Police Lieutenant Owen Ballweg back to City Hall for a photo with his family by his military portrait.
Ballweg is being honored by the County of Hudson this month as a Veteran of the Year, along with veterans from the other municipalities in the county.
Born in Bayonne in 1931, Ballweg was a member of Company B of the 21st Infantry Battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, which left for the Korean War from Bayonne.
Ballweg was a member of the Marine Corps Reserve from 1949 to 1952. During his wartime service in Korea, he was wounded, and received two Purple Hearts.
Ballweg survived the brutal Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, becoming a member of the group called “the Chosin Few.”
The Chosin Reservoir battle, which took place during severe cold in late November 1950, was one of the most difficult of the Korean War. Elements of the First U.S. Marine Division were surrounded and attacked by twelve Chinese divisions around the Chosin Reservoir.
The severe wintry conditions included temperatures around 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. In the Marine Corps, Ballweg was promoted from Private First Class to Corporal.
In 1952, Ballweg married Mary Riccio. They were married for 67 years.
Ballweg became a Bayonne police officer in December 1955. Early in his career, the former Marine responded on September 15, 1958, when a Central Railroad of New Jersey commuter train slid off the Newark Bay railroad bridge.
In that disaster, 48 people were killed, and another 48 were injured. Officer Ballweg and other first responders attempted to save passengers.
During Ballweg’s police career, he was promoted to sergeant and lieutenant. As a superior officer, he served as Police Garage Superintendent and Supervisor of the Traffic Safety Division.
Ballweg retired as a Police Lieutenant on December 31, 1994.
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