Medal of Honor
LANG, GEORGE C.
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, New York
Born: 20 April 1947, Flushing, New York
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.
George Lang Dies; Vietnam Veteran Given Medal of Honor
By Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post
Friday, March 25, 2005
George C. Lang, 57, who received the Medal of Honor for his Army service during the Vietnam War and suffered a severe spinal injury in combat that left him a paraplegic, died March 16 at his home in Seaford on Long Island, N.Y. He had cancer.
Enlisting in the Army after high school, Mr. Lang quickly became seasoned in search-and-destroy missions along the Mekong River. Seeking ambush after ambush, his speedboats would lure enemy forces out of the jungle so they could be fired upon.
After several water attacks, Mr. Lang, a specialist fourth class in the 9th Infantry Division, was made squad leader in his unit. He was ordered to conduct a land-based reconnaissance mission in Kien Hoa province, southeast of Saigon, on Feb. 22, 1969. His actions that day led to his being awarded the Medal of Honor, the military's highest decoration for valor.
"I was among a lot of guys who'd just arrived a month or two before," Mr. Lang told Paraplegia News in 2000. "They were still learning. Then there were the guys who were 10 to 11 months into their tours. You didn't want to put them into the heat of things, because they were ready to go home. After six months, I was in the middle. So I walked point [lead] that day."
Almost immediately he and his men were inundated with intense fire from an enemy bunker complex. Mr. Lang twice spotted the source of the gunfire and with grenades and rifle fire silenced the emplacements, both times at great personal risk.
He then found a valuable cache of enemy ammunition but found himself again under assault from an enemy bunker. He used the last of his grenades to end the hostile gunfire. But as he stayed near the cache, yet another group of enemy forces discharged rocket and automatic weapons fire from three sides, causing many casualties among his men.
He was seriously wounded in that final clash -- a rocket cut his spinal cord -- but he continued to direct those under his command until he was ordered evacuated over his protests, according to the Medal of Honor citation.
After a period of rehabilitation at military hospitals, he received the Medal of Honor from President Richard M. Nixon in 1971.
George Charles Lang was born April 20, 1947, in Flushing, N.Y., and raised in Hicksville, N.Y. After his father's death when he was 7, he spent many years working long hours at a luncheonette to help support his mother.
His tour of duty in Vietnam lasted less than a year. Despite using a wheelchair, he said he was not bitter. He did note, however, a fluke of timing.
"I almost missed it," he told Paraplegia News about the battle in Kien Hoa province. "I was scheduled for a week of R and R [rest and recreation] beginning Feb. 26. One of the guys in my platoon who was due for a leave on the 16th said he didn't have enough money to go then.
"I said, 'Why don't you take my R and R?' So we put in for a switch. I was all set to leave on the 16th -- I had my new shoes spit-shined and had them on and was ready to go -- when they told me they forgot to put in the request. I didn't even get to change my shoes before I was walking point in the mud."
After the war, he did bookkeeping work for his brother-in-law's guitar-string company; fished on the South Shore of Long Island; and helped compile a two-volume history, "Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863-1994" (1995).
Survivors include his wife of 33 years, Jacqueline Barberine Lang, and a stepdaughter, Angela Egan, both of Seaford; and four grandchildren.
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