Brendan Lang Selected to Accompany WWII Veterans to Normandy for 80th D-Day Anniversary.

Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) Cadet Master Chief Brendan Lang, a dual-enrolled student at Brookdale Community College and Wall High School senior, has been chosen from a competitive international pool of candidates to receive a prestigious scholarship. He will accompany some of the last living WWII veterans to Normandy for the 80th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

Lang, who completed Public Speaking, English 121, Computer Science 129 and Algebraic Modeling Classes over the last two semesters at Brookdale Community College, was selected for the Best Defense Foundation Next Generation Student Program. This program, organized by the Best Defense Foundation in collaboration with Delta Airlines and supporting sponsors Michelin and The Boeing Company, will bring together 60 WWII veterans and 16 students for a twelve-day Battlefield Return Program June 1st through June 12th.

The mission aims to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, marking the last significant milestone where such many WWII veterans will be present. Lang’s selection highlights his commitment to honoring veterans and preserving history, traits instilled in him by his family and community.

“I first became interested in history when my grandfather sat me down in elementary school and started telling me stories about how his father and father-in-law both served in World War II as a sergeant and a corporal,” Lang said. “As I grew up and entered high school, I never lost the respect that I had for vets, and I joined the Navy, National Defense Cadet Corps, and or the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, which is the NNDCC or NJROTC, where I became our Color Guard commander and Command Master Chief. In those roles, I organized over 100 veteran events.”

Reflecting on his motivation for applying for this opportunity, Lang shared, “Remembering history is important so that the horrors of war never repeat themselves, inspiring the next generation, and preserving memories so that what our veterans had to go through is never forgotten, especially the ones on the beaches of Normandy.”

Michael Malone, a Police Officer at Township of Wall, and Volunteer Director of Veterans Affairs for the Best Defense Foundation, expressed pride in Lang’s selection and the experience he will have.

“Brendan was selected from a highly competitive pool of student applicants aged 16 to 22 from around the world,” Malone said. “From the solemn grounds of the Normandy American Cemetery to the historic sites of St Mère Èglise, Carentan, Omaha & Utah Beach, this once-in-a-lifetime experience will deepen his understanding of this conflict directly from the veterans who served there. He will also witness the profound gratitude and outpouring of love these veterans receive at the ceremonies, parades, and celebrations during this significant milestone anniversary, with many returning WWII veterans present.”

Among the group of 60 returning WWII Vets are 4 from NJ. 2 from the Jersey Shore and 2 from North Jersey having served in the 116 AAA Battery, 2nd Ranger Battalion, 84th Infantry Division & 83rd Infantry Division, respectively.

“One of the reasons I applied for this opportunity was an upstanding member of my own community, General Harry Rockefeller served in World War II, and he passed away in 2017,” said Lang. “Shortly after he passed, a nine-foot-tall bronze statue was erected in the Wall Township municipal complex to honor him. Experiencing a member of my own community, honored in such a spectacular way really drove home how real this event was and how important it is for this to be remembered.”

As Lang joins the WWII veterans on this journey, he will walk in the footsteps of history and ensure that the legacy of these heroes endures for generations to come. He said, “While in Normandy I look forward to learning about different veterans’ experiences and recording them, so their story never dies.”

When he returns, he will continue his studies at the College of New Jersey where he will major in Criminology.

For more information about Brookdale’s Dual Enrollment Program please visit this website page: