By Kevin Wilson
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE — Dewey Langston never considered himself a hero. That’s what he told a crowd Monday at Cannon Air Force Base.
The Airman Leadership School at Cannon disagreed, though, and added him to its Wall of Heroes.
Langston was the school’s guest of honor Monday morning, as he enjoyed a few jokes, reminisced about more than 30 years of service and thanked the current crop of military for protecting the nation.
“Freedoms aren’t free,” Langston said. “It takes people like you to stand up on your own two feet and defend democracy.”
Master Sgt. Regina Solomon, who oversees the ALS classes, said history doesn’t always appeal to her students.
So Solomon said she met with several peers, and a suggestion came that each ALS class could do research on a local person who had served in the military.
That honoree would then be included on the class’ Wall of Heroes. Langston was the second so honored; Santiago Hidalgo was the first in June.
“We feel it is important to recognize those who paved the road that we now choose to walk,” said Senior Airman Donald Johnson, a member of the ALS class that selected Langston.
Langston is a retired lieutenant colonel who served in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps.
Langston spoke a little about his path in the military, which continued even into his retirement as he taught classes. He joked about how the greatest honor was being promoted from a second lieutenant to a first lieutenant and about his greatest birthday present.
“On July 17 (1943), we left boot camp, and you talk about the finest birthday present I ever received,” Langston said. Laughter followed from an audience largely comprised of officers at Cannon.
Langston, who received a Purple Heart for wounds received in Okinawa, Japan, surprised the audience midway through his speech by pulling out a Japanese war tunic he had kept from a battle in World War II. He asked anybody that could translate Japanese to get in touch with him, so he could get a greater understanding for the item.
Col. John Posner, the wing commander of Cannon, felt the Wall of Heroes was a great way to educate and at the same time give back to the students’ predecessors.
“There’s a great lineage of heroes before who have allowed us to wear the uniform,” Posner said. “We would be remiss … to allow the services they did to go unacknowledged, unrecognized.”
Langston was also honored in May as the Pioneer of the Year at the Heritage Days celebration in Portales.