Jack Montgomery, Medal of Honor recipient, laid to rest Friday

Saturday, June 15th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Friends and family mourned the loss of one of the state's greatest heroes Friday at Fort Gibson National Cemetery.

Jack Montgomery was one of the last two living Oklahomans who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Now he's gone, but as the News on Six reporter Steve Berg reports, the freedom he fought to protect lives on.

You've probably never heard of Jack Montgomery. And that's just the way he would have liked it. His friends say he never sought attention, even though no one deserved it more. "But you'd never know it that he was a Congressional Medal of Honor winner visiting with him, just very humble."

Friday, he was laid to rest in Fort Gibson National Cemetery in the ground he helped keep free. "He's always said when we would come over here, I want to be buried with the troops, I don't want a special place, that's where he's going to be." Montgomery’s wife Joyce says he didn't even tell her he'd won the Medal of Honor until she notice it on the wall and asked him what it was. "And it was quite awhile before someone told me who he was."

A Great American is what his fellow soldier, Lt Col Scotty Wells, US Army 180th Infantry/45th Division, calls him. "You'd never know it if you meet him, he's just a quiet y'know, but he was vicious in the attack." He may have avoided praise, but in 1944, he charged straight into a row of German machine-gun nests in Italy, killing 11 enemy soldiers single-handed and capturing 32 more.

In a TV interview years ago, he showed just one of many scars. "So I was just up there about a month and a half, but that was the roughest part." Sometimes his friends joke the enemy wasn't the only one to feel his wrath. Wells says he was quiet. "But in the attack if you didn't move up like he expected you to, he'd give you a swift kick in the butt." They say he wouldn't have wanted all this. But they say they need it. That we all need it. "Today kids don't realize what the cost of freedom is." "He's going to be missed by a lot of people and me too."

"I thank goodness we had a lot of men like Jack.” Montgomery served in Company I of Oklahoma's famed 45th division, which was made up entirely of Native Americans.