Templeton man, Kuemper alum leads effort to honor Korean War veterans in Van Meter
August 30, 2013
Larry Boyce (left) and his grandson, Aaron (right) remove a rubber mat from the face of the Korean War Monument. The self-adhesive rubber layer works as a template during the sandblasting step when the lettering is created.
Ron Langel of Templeton spent much of 1970 in Vietnam as a U.S. Army medic. "One guy died in my arms - that was tough," said Langel, a 1967 Kuemper Catholic High School graduate. He's dedicated a healthy share of his 2013 on another military task, one not related to the Vietnam War, his war, but an earlier one.
Langel ran point on a campaign to raise money for a monument honoring all Korean War veterans in the State of Iowa Veterans Cemetery 1 mile north of Van Meter. Boyce Monumental Sales of Carroll fashioned the memorial this year, the 60th anniversary of the 1953 armistice.
Langel said he's long been troubled with what he believes is a general lack of attention to the Korean War in the United States, either in history programs or among the general public.
"I just plainly feel it was awful that these people had to be silent all these years about what they went through and became part of the 'forgotten war,'" Langel said. "Anything I could do to remedy that situation makes me feel proud. I also feel that we as a society will just forget about the best youth we have in our country that we send in harm's way to protect our way of life. I am afraid the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will some day be experiencing post traumatic stress disorder similar or worse than I did several years after the fact. We need to keep this in our thoughts."
Langel's fundraising campaign reached the $10,000 mark for the memorial. An additional $1,500 came through for perpetual care. The monument went up in the cemetery about a week ago, the result of generosity from many people.
"It came from all across Iowa, and it even came from Texas and California," said Langel, 64, a financial and insurance services professional.
On Saturday, Sept. 14, Langel has organized an open house and related activities in Van Meter to commemorate the service of those in Korea and the introduction of the monument.
There will be an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the American Legion post in Van Meter. Representatives from the Korean American Society will speak about how South Korea is a strong, progressive nation today in no small part because of the American involvement. U.S. military leaders are expected to deliver addresses as well.
The Veterans Cemetery will be open for the full day for those wishing to view the monument.
Langel stressed that the monument honors all of those who served from 1950, the start of the Korean War, to present day, as the United States has an ongoing military presence in the region.
"We've had thousands of troops there from 1953 up to the present day," Langel said. "It's still hot."
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