KALISPELL — Lieutenant Jack T. Mulder, a soldier in World War ll, was reported missing after a battle in Germany five days after his son’s birth in November of 1944.
On Tuesday in Kalispell, Jack’s son Mark and the Mulder family were presented with medals from Governor Greg Gianforte, honoring a soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Lt. Mulder disappeared after a battle along the German border in 1944, and one year later he was officially declared dead.
Now, 77 years later, Gianforte presented the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, and more to the Mulder family.
“It was a privilege and an honor today for me to present the Purple Heart and the other medals that were earned by Lieutenant Jack Mulder in World War ll, he gave his life so we could enjoy our freedoms that we enjoy today,” said Gianforte.
Mark’s son Jack, named after Lt. Mulder, traveled from Tillamook, Oregon, to attend the ceremony, honoring the man both he and his father never had the honor to meet.
“I wonder what it must be like sometimes to lose your father before you ever know him, and so it’s touching to see the recognition, just another chance to celebrate who he was and what he helped accomplish,” said Mulder.
Mark Mulder knows his father only through old photographs and letters written home to his late mother while his dad fought overseas.
Mark has been traveling to Europe for close to 40 years visiting his dad’s memorial in the Netherlands where he is honored on the Wall of the Missing in the American Military Cemetery.
Mark continues to search for his dad's remains in Germany, hoping to find closure, in bringing his dad home.
“It really means a lot to me, to get this part of the whole thing done, my goal now is to find my father’s remains, and I’m working with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, I can just say it’s a struggle, it’s really a struggle, but I’m getting closer." - Mark Mulder
Lt. Jack Mulder was born and raised in Oregon before deploying overseas to fight in World War ll. Mark Mulder moved to the Kalispell area later in life, while his two sons continue to raise their own families in Oregon.