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Photo by Frank Prager
Vernon Langer and his wife, Brenda, hold a quilt presented to him on his Honor Flight in April.
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Vernon Langer during his Navy service days from 1955 to 1959.
GODFREY — When Vernon Langer participated in the Veteran’s Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., in April, he noted in his journal not only what he saw, but also his insights regarding the trip’s larger meaning.
Significantly, he observed it was not a trip to tour the nation’s capital, but rather a journey to honor veterans for their service to this “Great Country” by taking them to see the war memorials.
Langer lives in Godfrey with his wife of 55 years, Brenda. The two were neighbors when they were children but did not interact much back then.
“I was 10 and she was 5. I didn’t want to hang around with a little kid,” he says.
Years later when he returned from the service, their romance blossomed.
He smiles and says, “That five year difference didn’t seem like such a big deal when I was in my 20s.”
A Navy veteran, Langer worked as a foreman for Amoco in his civilian career and retired in 1995 when the company closed their plant here. At the age of 81, he and his wife remain active with their church, hobbies and travel. They have one son and a grandson who recently joined the Navy.
A veteran from the Korean era, Langer served in the Navy from November 1955 until his discharge in October 1959. His service took him first to Washington, D.C., as a photographic interpreter and later to locations across Europe.
“I had a tremendous time in the service,” he says.
Langer has kept a journal all of his life. His extensive notes about the Honor Flight he took out of St. Louis on April 26 highlight the excitement of those on the flight when they landed at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. A loud cheer went up through the plane and they were welcomed by “a couple hundred people” who shook their hands and thanked them for their service.
The veterans were provided a police escort during the entire day. They did not have to stop for lights, find a place to park or wait in any lines at the memorials. He notes he was particularly touched by a child, about 9 years old, who was touring the memorials with his family and went out of his way to come up to him and shake his hand, thanking him for his service.
Langer says he thought all of the memorials were magnificent but felt particularly moved by the Korean Memorial. He thought it visually told a story about the men it was built to honor.
He points out that although he spent extensive time in Washington, D.C., earlier in his life, visiting the city on this trip was a very different experience.
“You look at it differently than just a tourist attraction,” he says.
Langer and his wife have extensive interests, including wood-working, creating stained glass pieces and making jewelry from gems and stones. They have traveled to every state except one, as well as foreign destinations such as Cancun, Spain, the Canary Islands and cruises to the Caribbean.
His design skills allowed him to create the plans for a church they helped build and their activities in their church organization remain extensive to this day.
Langer says he originally signed up for the Honor Flight three years ago and encourages veterans to register for one of the upcoming flights. Information on participating in an Honor Flight can be found at gslhonorflight.org.