Pat and I heard a very interesting and compelling story from our daughter-in-law, Cindy, regarding members of her side of the family. The story is of her cousin, Ed Langerveld and her brother, Bob Langerveld and a good deed they both had a part in. Ed Langerveld is the owner, President, and CEO of Century Aviation, of Klamath Falls, Oregon. A pilot, Ed is qualified to fly many types of aircraft and has logged over 18,000 flight hours. Bob is a retired Air Traffic Flight Controller who worked O’Hare Airport in Chicago, one of the country’s busiest sites.
This past August 29th, a suicide bomber set off a blast at the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan killing 13 Americans and 170 Afghanistan citizens. One of the victims was Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee. Gee’s home town was Roseville, California where she graduated from Oakmont High School in 2016 and then enlisted in the Marine Corps. She worked hard, advanced quickly, and loved her job in the Corps. Her casket and remains were flown to Sacramento where she was honored with a procession from the airport and into the city. She was further honored and her life celebrated by a memorial service in Roseville.
Sgt. Gee’s remains were to be returned to Washington, D.C. for her scheduled burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Unfortunately, her family couldn’t afford the cost of a flight to the East Coast which would be tens of thousands of dollars. When Cindy’s cousin, Ed Langerveld, heard of the family’s plight, he volunteered to fly the casket back to D.C. on his jet at no cost to the family. To Ed, a former marine, it was a matter of Marine Corps tradition to take care of fallen comrades and their families.
Captain Ed’s mission on this flight was to pay homage to Sgt. Gee, and he wanted his plane to be referred to as something more special than just it’s call numbers. He proposed to call the flight “Patriot One.” There was only a week to get everything approved, and Ed wasn’t sure how to go about it. He called his cousin, Cindy’s brother, Bob Langerveld, and asked him what to do. Bob said he would make some calls and get back to him. One of the men Bob talked to said the change in call name would be acceptable if it were spelled out in the “notes” section of the aircraft’s flight plan. Easy enough.
The jet itself was dressed up for the occasion. A local Klamath Falls company designed a label with a Marine Corps motif. The decals were placed on either side of the fuselage, beneath the cockpit windows. The plane was also named for Sgt. Gee and her name was added just below the decals.
The flight made its way across the country. All radio calls were made to and from “Patriot One.” As each Air Traffic Controller dealt with the plane and handed it off to the next sector, it was “Patriot One” all the way.
As Americans, we can all be proud of the job that was done. And, thank you for your service, Sgt. Gee, and Ed, and Bob. Rest in peace, Nicole.