WATERLOO — Lenis Lester Lang was a decorated veteran after serving his country for more than six years during the Vietnam War.
The 78-year-old died April 22 while a resident of Cedar Falls Health Center.
His active duty in the U.S. Army earned the former sergeant a spot at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Van Meter. Locke’s funeral director Paul Smith carried him there in style on Thursday.
Smith drove Lang’s remains on U.S. Highway 20 and Interstate 35 in a 2003 Corvette 50th Anniversary Edition convertible. The vehicle was escorted by more than 20 motorcycles from Patriot Guard Riders, Cedar Falls AMVETS and Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.
Lang never married and had no known family members. After his death, the funeral home had little information about him.
“He was wearing his dog tags. That’s how we knew he was a vet,” Smith said.
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“Once we determined he was a vet, we planned to go to the veterans cemetery,” he added. After contacting cemetery officials, he learned that five to six “unclaimed” veterans were buried Thursday and decided to time Lang’s transportation for that event.
“Once I realized the interest various veteran groups had in it, I decided to pull the Corvette out and take it for a spin,” he said.
Lang grew up in Waterloo Region and served in the Army from May 21, 1962 to August 16, 1968. He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 197th Infantry Brigade, 3rd U.S. Army.
According to Smith, Lang was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. The Campaign Medal includes Combat, Infantryman’s Badge, Overseas Bar, Expert Rifle, and Expert Pistols.
Photos: Funeral services for Seaman First Class David Franklin Tidball at Independence