D-Day: Service of Claremore’s Lantow brothers remembered
Randy Cowling Editor
There is silence. No one speaks on this anniversary of D-Day. The 9,387 white marble crosses do speak of valor, honor and sacrifice. Among the graves are those of 748 Oklahomans.
Those who walk, do so with reverence. Some shed tears for those they knew. Some salute the fallen who gave their lives in the cause of freedom.
On June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coastline more than 9,000 soldiers lost their lives, among them were 748 Oklahomans.
A visit to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France will find the headstone of two Claremore men, who proudly served their nation, but lost their lives.
Robert and Norman Lantow, who both served in the 501th paratrooper division of the 101st Airborne, were buried side by side.
The Lantow brothers survived the D-Day invasion, which involved more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft. More than 9,000 soldiers were killed that day as Allied forces began a drive against the Nazis, which would eventually lead to the liberation of Paris.
Dr. Bloomer Dan Sullivan and his wife, Glenda, recently toured the Normandy Cemetery as part of a “Band of Brothers” tour. While at the cemetery and memorial, the staff discovered they were from Oklahoma and guided them to the Lantow brother’s grave.
The Sullivan’s tour was from May 18-26. They were among a group of 22 people on a nine-day tour of the D-Day beaches, Brittany and Paris, sponsored by Cameron University and organized by Jake Powers, President and CEO of Band of Brothers Tours.
This tour was organized to visit the American Beaches — Omaha and Utah — as well as many of the landing zones of the 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions, with special emphasis on the battles fought and losses sustained by Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR).
Dr. Sullivan is the provost emeritus at Cameron University.
“As part of the tour, we visited the American Battlefield Monuments Commission (www.abmc.gov) cemeteries at Normandy and in Brittany. As part of our homage to the fallen soldiers each of us on the trip was given a sector, row and grave number of an Oklahoman and we laid flowers on that grave,” said Dr. Sullivan.
“As my wife approached her assigned grave, we noticed that Jake Powers was standing at the grave and had a picture with two young soldiers in it. We learned that the two soldiers were brothers from Claremore—Robert and Norman Lantow. Both brothers were paratroopers and members of the 501th PIR.”
Robert Lantow was killed in Normandy shortly after D-Day and Norman Lantow was killed in November 1945 in Holland during Operation Market Garden, an operation that is depicted in the movie “A Bridge Too Far.”
While at the cemetery, a guide printed out brief biographies on the brothers for the Sullivans.
“Robert Lantow was the third of the six children of the family and like the frest of the boys his days were filled with fishing and hunting after school and on weekends,” the short biography said.
“After graduation, he attended North Eastern State College on a tennis scholarship. For extra money he worked on the Will Rogers Memorial, while it was under construction. Before he enlisted in the Army, he tried to get in the Air Force, but was disqualified because he was color blind, even though he had a pilot’s license.”
Robert joined the army at the age of 21 in the summer of 1942.
In July 1942, he began paratrooper school and told his brother, Norman, how great it was, which prompted his brother to sign up for the training too.
Norman was the four child of the family. He attended Coffeyville Junior College, where he played football. He was in college less than a year before joining the Army in 1942 at age 18.
He joined his brother, Robert, as a member of the 101st Airborne Division.
On this anniversary of D-Day, remember all who have served and those who gave their lives for freedom.