On Sunday night, April 27th, 2014, I was interviewing Bill Bell in a hotel room down the street from the Pentagon. Bill is a WWII veteran from Glasgow, Montana. As his Iraq war veteran grandson Nathan Wiens looked on, I asked Bill who he was remembering as we prepared to visit the WWII Memorial the following day.
He then told the story of Malta, Montana native “Jack” Lang, a paratrooper who jumped into Normandy. On this 70th Anniversary of DDay, please give a listen to what Bill Bell had to say about Jack Lang and his missing jacket- initially lost during his parachute jump into Normandy, and found years later by a French farmer.
Click to Listen
As my interview with Bill Bell was heard on the radio that following Monday morning, Jack’s son Mike Lang- a legislator from Malta- was listening to KMMR radio in Malta. Much to his surprise, he heard his Dad’s name on the air. Mike then sent me a copy of an article about his dad and the missing jacket.
Click below to listen, as Mike told me his Dad’s story during our special Memorial Day show from the Fort Peck Theatre:
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I passed Mike’s article on to Joe Cobos, a retired Marine with MSU-Billings Veterans Upward Bound. And now, thanks to Lori Borth, the College Transition & Cohort Educational Programs Coordinator for Veterans Upward Bound in Montana, a full translation from French to English is now available. Click here to read the full article- you can click on the yellow bubbles once you pull up the file to read the translation in English.
Here’s an excerpt:
After Normandy, “Jack” will be hospitalized for problems in both knees, but will go on the campaign in the Ardennes and Germany as part of operation Varsity. He will then be part of the occupation troops in the Berlin sector, before being demobilized in December 1945. During his campaigns, John E. Lang will be promoted Private First Class in August 1944 (in England) and Sergeant in November and Staff Sergeant in April 1945. He will receive the “Combat Infantry Badge”, the “Good Conduct Medal “, the” Distinguished Unit Badge”. On his return to Montana, he will become a farmer and will have six children who still perpetuate his memory and the heroic action he carried out in World War II. John E. Lang, who died in 1997, never wanted to return to Normandy, marked he seems by the ferocity of the fighting and loss of his comrades in arms.
Here’s a screenshot from the article: