top of page
PA-ETO-Marburger: Visit Us
Lansinger TX NG.jpg

First Sergeant Jack C. Lansinger

Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment


     Jack C. Lansinger was born in December 1919 in San Antonio, Texas. Born out of wedlock between his father, a Texas native, and his mother, from a Mexican immigrant family, they married a few years later in 1922. Tragically, the marriage did not last long before Jack’s father abandoned his wife and child, moving away from Texas leaving the two to fend for themselves. Much of his mother’s family, the Valenzuelas, remained in the area, but Jack and his mother mostly lived alone, making their way through life together. After graduating from high school, Jack decided to join the Army National Guard, a common side-career for young men in San Antonio. Enlisting in November of 1940, he became a member of C Company of the 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, but still retained his primary civilian job as a body repairer for automobiles. 

     Before the start of World War II, the U.S. Government implemented a series of preemptive defense savings stamps to begin bolstering the federal treasury in case of war. A San Antonio newspaper article from June 1941 depicted troops of the 36th Infantry Division participating in the effort. Photographed in the center was none other than now Sergeant Jack Lansinger, still a member of C Company. Six months later, however, these bonds found their purpose as Japan and Germany declared war upon the United States. Not long after, the 36th Infantry Division was federalized and began intense training for combat.


     As the 36th traveled across the United States, Jack’s leadership skills became apparent and before long he received several promotions. By the time the 36th was loading up for North Africa in April of 1943, he was functioning as the First Sergeant of HQ Company, 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment. In this capacity, he was the senior non-commissioned officer of all the special troops, weapons platoons, and headquarters men of the entire 1st Battalion. It was an important and busy job, but one which he nonetheless took upon himself. The 36th Division eventually arrived in North Africa only to watch the invasion of Sicily from the sidelines, undergoing further training to prepare for their ultimate objective: landing on the Italian subcontinent.

     In September of 1943 the division was called up, the time for the invasion had come. Although Salerno was the primary target of the invasion, the 36th Division planned  to land southward near the town of Paestum, an old farming community and ancient Roman colony. While waiting offshore, the men heard the news of Italy’s surrender, hoping it might limit the resistance they would face while hitting the beach. Just before midnight going into September 9, however, the call to quarters came as Jack and his men boarded their landing craft, circling in the water before the 1st Battalion finally hit the sand of Europe’s shores around 0330.


     Although the initial landing went smooth, it was not long before the thunder of German artillery brought with it a rain of shot and shell. German machine guns opened up on the 141st Infantry’s area of the landing zone, known as Blue Beach, a mostly flat area of scrub and brush with mixed irrigation ditches. For the next several days the 1st Battalion fought fiercely to push the Germans off the beach and to repel their many counterattacks. By the end of September 10 a beachhead was established. To keep up the pressure, Jack and the rest of the 1st Battalion made a strong defensive position east of the Sele River, a prime spot near a major highway. They held the area for about a week before moving south of Altavilla for a bivouac, getting some rest and replacements which were much needed after the landing and its harrowing defense. 

     On October 13 the regiment moved by truck through Salerno, Avellino, and Naples until reaching orchards south of Guigliano to continue in their training regimen. Throughout the month of October the men were given a special opportunity to view the sights of Italy, with many of the troops taking passes to visit nearby Naples, the first major city on the European continent to fall into Allied hands. Jack was no exception to these visits and even picked himself up a souvenir while there, the very flag photographed above. 


     The flag, kept as a trophy by Jack as a reminder of his combat against and victory over German forces, is a variant of the standard of Nazi Germany. It is a unique example for many reasons, the first being its construction. Several feet in diameter with double-stitched roundels on either side, the flag itself was made in Naples. In one corner of the red field is a stamp reading “Municipio Di Napoli - Economato,” which translates to “Town Hall of Naples - Treasurer.” These flags were manufactured in 1938 to coincide with Adolf Hitler’s visit to Naples as part of his grand tour of Italy to see the original fascist state for himself. Unlike German-made flags, the red fields are left with a large hole which is covered by the roundel. Rather than looped, they are also tied onto a pole using the cloth ties. Because of this style, the roundel is backwards on one side, which happens to be where Lansinger decided to make his mark. To remember his first month of combat and his continued tour in Italy, he wrote next to the swastika “Taken in Italy, October 1943, 1st Sgt Lansinger Inf.” 

     After some amphibious exercises in the Bay of Naples, including a pretend-boarding of landing ships to fool German spies into thinking the division was deploying, Jack decided to send his flag home where it might be more useful than with him in the field. On November 4 he postmarked the souvenir to his old company commander, Captain Jimmie Dooley. Former commanding  officer of HQ Company, Dooley now worked in the Internal Security Office of Camp Maxey, a prisoner of war camp in Texas. Dooley received the flag several weeks later and displayed it around the base as one of the first pieces of the German military sent back home. 


     The flag was later displayed to the public in March 1944 during an Army Service Forces show held at the USO building in nearby Paris, Texas. The show, to promote various branches of the Army, its machinery, and overall support for the war, featured a number of special displays including photos, equipment, and other aspects of army life. Two other flags were displayed alongside Jack’s, including another German flag captured by the 45th Infantry Division and a Japanese flag sent home by a local navy officer. Jack was returned his flag at the end of the war, but there was still much more fighting to do.

     Over the next ten months Jack led his men into battle, helping to ensure his battalion had the strategic and logistical support needed to succeed. Seeing combat in the hills of San Pietro, the bloody massacre at the Rapido River, the mountains of Monte Cassino, the holdout at Velletri, and the capture of Rome, Jack grew into a salty and seasoned combat veteran of the Italian campaign’s most grueling battles. Unfortunately, he would not finish the war with his T-Patcher comrades. In August of 1944 complications with a congenital deformity (he was missing half of a finger and a toe) sent him to the hospital and then on to home. He saw the war through to the end, though, just back home in Texas and away from the many men he was privileged to command.


     In July 1945, with the war in Europe at an end, he finally received his discharge and got married. After a few years in civilian circles, Jack realized that life was no longer for him. Through his trials in combat he had become quite accustomed to the life of a soldier and decided to reenlist, this time into the newly-christened United States Air Force, in 1947. He spent the rest of his career in the Air Force, with most of his service occurring as an instructor and commander of ROTC at the University of Iowa. It was here that he got to know many of the other local servicemen, including fellow NCO Paul E. Heckman, to whom he gave his souvenir flag as a gift. Jack passed away after a life of military service in 1981.

PA-ETO-Marburger: Pro Gallery
bottom of page