Friday, February 22, 2013

TFH 2/22: SP4 George C. Lang, USA

George Charles Lang was born on April 20, 1947 in Flushing, Queens, New York. His father passed away when he was seven years old, and while he was growing up, he worked after school to help support himself and his mother. He enlisted in the United States Army after high school and by early 1969 was fighting in Vietnam with the 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, then part of the 9th Infantry Division. They were tasked with riverine warfare along the Mekong River and delta as part of the Mobile Riverine Force.

On February 22, 1969, Lang was leading an infantry squad during a reconnaissance-in-force when they came under fire from an enemy bunker complex. He led his men in the assault on the enemy positions, and despite suffering grievous wounds from an enemy rocket, he steadfastly remained in charge until his evacuation for care was ordered. Lang later received our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War (A-L):


Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company A, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. place and date: Kien Hoa province, Republic of Vietnam, 22 February 1969. Entered service at: Brooklyn, N.Y. Born: 20 April 1947, Flushing, N.Y . Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Lang, Company A, was serving as a squad leader when his unit, on a reconnaissance-in-force mission, encountered intense fire from a well fortified enemy bunker complex. Sp4c. Lang observed an emplacement from which heavy fire was coming. Unhesitatingly, he assaulted the position and destroyed it with hand grenades and rifle fire. Observing another emplacement approximately 15 meters to his front, Sp4c. Lang jumped across a canal, moved through heavy enemy fire to within a few feet of the position, and eliminated it, again using hand grenades and rifle fire. Nearby, he discovered a large cache of enemy ammunition. As he maneuvered his squad forward to secure the cache, they came under fire from yet a third bunker. Sp4c. Lang immediately reacted, assaulted his position, and destroyed it with the remainder of his grenades. After returning to the area of the arms cache, his squad again came under heavy enemy rocket and automatic weapons fire from 3 sides and suffered 6 casualties. Sp4c. Lang was 1 of those seriously wounded. Although immobilized and in great pain, he continued to direct his men until his evacuation was ordered over his protests. The sustained extraordinary courage and selflessness exhibited by this soldier over an extended period of time were an inspiration to his comrades and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

The rocket blast that severely wounded Lang also damaged his spinal cord and he spent the remainder of his life paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. In civilian life, Lang was a stalwart for working behind the scenes on the needs of his fellow disabled brothers in arms. This American hero lost his life due to cancer on March 16, 2005 shortly before what would have been his 58th birthday. George Lang today rests in peace at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury, New York.

Both the 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry and the 9th Infantry Division are inactive today. Lang's legacy of heroism and service lives on through the Wounded Warrior Project. Each year, the group bestows the George C. Lang Award for Courage. The award is described as:
This award is bestowed upon an individual who best exemplifies the spirit and virtue of Mr. Lang, who was a humble, yet unyielding behind-the-scenes advocate for all veterans – especially those with disabilities. Although he shunned the spotlight, preferring to work on behalf of his fellow veterans in anonymity, George’s service both during and after the Vietnam War merited public acclaim and recognition. While he shied away from public attention, he never stopped supporting his brethren, his fellow veterans. George took time to visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, hoping these young men and women would draw strength from his experiences in adjusting to and living with a combat-related disability. George C. Lang epitomized what it meant to be a wounded warrior, broken in body but not in spirit, soldiering on in support of his fellow service members.
Our nation is so much for the better, thanks to the great courage and loyalty of men such as George Lang.

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