Golden Gate Wing Guest Speaker Archive

Presentation Date: March 27, 2014

Nathan Nat Landes, Colonel, US Army (Retired)

Nathan Landes was born in New York City in July 1918, the first of two children. His immigrant parents were Hungarian Orthodox Jews from Transylvania, Austro-Hungarian Empire. Nat’s father Menachem Mendel worked as a watchmaker for eight years and then became a home builder. His mother Charlotte was a homemaker, kept the books, and helped design plans for their building business.

Nat graduated from Townsend Harris High School, the preparatory school for the City College of New York (CCNY), in June 1935. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from CCNY’s School of Technology where he specialized in Structures, Hydraulics, and Concrete.

He began his military career in 1935 as a Private in the New York National Guard. In World War II, he served:

-- as a Lieutenant and then Captain in the 997th Field Artillery Battalion, 5th Corps, 1st Army.

-- on battalion and regimental headquarters staffs, headquarters battery, and firing battery commander.

His war travels extended from England to Omaha Beach on through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Czechoslovakia.

Known for his lightning-quick mental calculations, he was given special field assignments throughout the War. During the Battle of the Bulge, his battery played an important role as the Germans pivoted around his position; he was forced to fire in opposite directions at the same time.

He commanded one of the units that liberated the slave labor concentration camp at Nordhausen. In addition to his duties, Nat was assigned the responsibility of military commander of part of the city of Leipzig. While stationed halfway between Nuremberg and Munich, he commanded two DP (displaced persons) camps. He returned home in 1946.

Colonel Landes served nearly 40 years active duty and active reserve. For his last five years of service, he was the commander of the 601st reserve army headquarters (a future replacement of SIXTH Army Headquarters in the event of necessity). He earned a host of ribbons in both the American and European Theaters including the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Bronze Star.

His best quote about the war: “It was a miracle I was not killed many times over”.

His proudest accomplishment: "...not losing a single man in my battery".

In civilian life, Nat owned a construction company specializing in commercial and industrial structures, with projects throughout the western United States. He also:

-- spent many years developing properties including numerous self-storage facilities.

-- was the mayor of Woodside, CA for four years in the 1960s

-- has been deeply engaged in Jewish and community non-profit organizations throughout his adult life.

In his personal life, Colonel Landes was fortunate to have a 68-year marriage to his wonderful wife Evelyn who passed away in 2011. Together they raised four children. He has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.