Malta, Montana’s Jack Lang and the DDay Jacket
Later this week marks the 78th Anniversary of DDay
Former State Senator John Brenden out of Scobey just happened to be travelling through town, so Greg Franks and I were fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with him and talk Montana politics and Montana history.
For some reason we got to talking about Northeast Montana families and elected officials over the years, and it reminded me of the great story involving State Senator Mike Lang out of Malta.
Back in 2014, I got to take part in the Big Sky Honor Flight for our World War II veterans.
While I was interviewing a great WWII vet from Glasgow named Bill Bell before we left for the WWII Memorial, I asked him who he was thinking about, or who he was remembering. Jack Lang out of Malta. That's who Bill Bell told me he was remembering.
WWII Veteran Bill Bell (from 2014 Honor Flight): He was in the- same age as my sister- and he was in the airborne. He jumped in Normandy...and of course we all know that a lot of the jumps were late, because there was overcast and there was a lot of fire coming out of the edges of the fields, you know, where the brush grow up. I remember we had a name for 'em, but I can't remember now what it was. But anyway, he jumped out of the airplane. And of course, nobody knows for sure what happened, but- he lost his jacket. And he didn't know where it went. So he waited until he could get another one before he worried much about it. Because he was never cared or feared anything. He was a tough guy.
"Lo and behold," Bell later says, some farmer "caught a jacket on the tooth of his cultivator." Turns out the jacket belonged to Jack Lang.
Jack Lang is the father of State Senator Mike Lang (R-Malta).
He heard my interview with Bill Bell live on KMMR radio as Bill mentioned his dad's name. He later told me the story and how back in 2013, a French researcher and WWII history buff had reached out to him after finding the jacket in a farmer's field.
Mike Lang (from 2014): He was researching and he found this jacket, and of course had my dad's name in the collar, and then he started to follow the history of my father and you know early on through basic training through jump school there's a lot of that. But you know, the 40 days after the invasion, there's not a lot of pertinent records that are kept. Things were pretty wild then. Of course, dad went on and fought in Bastogne and the Battle the Bulge...I know from Malta, and I'm sure all along the Hi Line, there was lots of people that went to the World War II. In Malta there were 1,645 guys left in five years to go do their duty.
Back in 2014, I was able to get the original article that was written in French translated into English. I'll have to see if I can find that and share once again.