World War II vet receives medals
SPECIAL DELIVERY Raymond O. Lang and his daughter, Grace Lang King, look at some of the medals Lang received last week nearly 56 years after the war in which he served. Photo by Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
May 30, 2001
DEKALB World War II veteran Raymond O. Lang of DeKalb has finally received his medals more than 50 years after his military service.
The recipient of a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, the European-African-Middle-Eastern Campaign medal with battle stars, the America Campaign medal, a Good Conduct medal and a World War II Victory medal said if it weren't for his daughter and granddaughter, he would have never received the citations.
Lang, 76, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943. He entered service in the 314th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Infantry Division.
Lang saw action in the Normandy Invasion, Northern France and Rhineland campaigns. He was sent home after being wounded in action near Scheibenhardt, Germany, Dec. 21, 1944.
Lang was a machine gunner. He carried a light weight .30 caliber machine gun throughout his service. Another man carried the ammunition and a third carried the tripod.
While defending a position on the Rhine River as men built pontoons, Lang was hit by shrapnel.
Lang was discharged from Battey General Hospital in Rome, Ga. He said he checked on the medals he was due to receive at that time but was told they couldn't be found. He assumed they would be mailed to him, but they never came and a fire at his parents' house destroyed all his military papers.
Nothing happened until 1993 when Lang's daughter, Grace Lang King, wanted to place a brick in honor of her father's service in the Veteran's Memorial Walk in DeKalb. The bricks are engraved with servicemen's names and the years they served. She had to have proof of her father's service, which she found on file in the DeKalb Courthouse.
Enquiries were made into getting the medals listed on Private Lang's discharge papers, according to King, but there was still no action until U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering decided to eat at Boro's Restaurant in Newton about six months ago.
Lang's granddaughter, Carla Cress, was the Pickering's waitress that day. She asked him why her grandfather hadn't received his medals. Pickering took the information, checked into it, and secured them for Lang, who picked them up Friday at Pickering's office in Meridian.
Lang does not like to speak of his service very much. He became emotional when he did. Asked what bothered him about it the most, he said, "A lot of things. Losing my friends. I miss them."
For Lang, Monday was just another day. He plowed his garden and didn't hold any special observances. Every day is Memorial Day for him.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at email@example.com.