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Category: post  Listing Date: 2000-09-25

Honoring Nelson Lagendyk


September 25, 2000
From the Congressional Record

Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, I rise today to publicly commend Nelson Lagendyk of Avon, South Dakota on being inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame Combat Wing for his contributions to both state and national aviation.

Mr. Lagendyk enlisted in the Air Force in June 1941 where he became a squadron clerk and joined the all volunteer glider program. His outstanding aviation skills led to his promotion to staff sergeant and a transfer to Lubbock, Texas for glider combat training. Once in Texas, Nelson was again promoted, this time to the position of Flight Officer. Following his new promotion, he then traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for continued training in preparation of his flight to Europe.

Leadership, courage and honor define Nelson's heroic actions on June 6, 1944 when he joined 4,000 glider and tow planes for a dangerous flight into Hitler's occupied France. Nelson Lagendyk courageously risked his life to secure the airfield behind enemy lines, so that German prisoners may be transported to England where they would later be held accountable for the grave atrocities committed against the Jewish people under Hitler's infamous reign.

Nelson's honors for his exemplary service include the distinguished Air Medal and the prestigous Battle Field Commission to 2nd Lieutenant, as well as the Normandy Medal of the Jubilee of Liberty'', which was presented to him by the French government in appreciation for the World War II liberation. Upon his retirement with the rank of General, Nelson enlisted in the Air Force Reserves as a ready reservist. He presently serves as South Dakota's Commander of the World War II Glider Pilot Association.

Mr. President, Nelson Lagendyk richly deserves this noble distinction. It is an honor for me to share his heroic accomplishments with my colleagues and to publicly commend him for serving South Dakota and our country valiantly.

It should also be noted that Mr Lagendyk is one of the Combat Air Crew Memorial Members.

Nelson married Leonora Spomer on June 20, 1946. Three daughters were born to their union. He was employed by Rocketdyne Aviation in California for several years and then returned to Avon, where he owned and operated Lagendyk's Variety Store from 1947 to 1997. Many of us can remember buying candy from Mr. Lagendyk.

Nelson John Lagendyk, son of John and Johanna (Nyenhuis) Lagendyk, was born June 22, 1917, in Alton, IA. He passed away on his 88th birthday on June 22, 2005, at his home in Avon South Dakota.

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