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Army Reserve veteran and App State alumna Caitlin Langley lays wreath for university’s Memorial Day commemoration

Last Updated on May 27, 2024 8:27 pm

BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University held its annual Memorial Day commemoration on May 24 to pay tribute to those who died while serving in the U.S. military. The observance took place at the Veterans Memorial, located next to the B.B. Dougherty Administration Building on the Boone campus. The memorial honors App State students, faculty and staff who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

In App State tradition, a veteran is chosen by the chancellor each year to lay a wreath for the Memorial Day commemoration. This year, Interim Chancellor Heather Norris selected U.S. Army Reserve veteran and App State alumna Caitlin Langley ’24 for the honor.

“Memorial Day is so much more than just a day off work,” said Langley. “It has always been important in my family, but now, having lost fellow veterans, it’s even more significant. I’m very honored to come back and do this at the school where I made so many good friends who have also served in the military.”

Langley, from Prospect Hill, enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2018, serving as a heavy equipment operator and eventually achieving the rank of specialist. She was deployed twice during her time at App State — to Guatemala in 2019 and to Somalia in 2020 — and still managed to graduate in only five years. A first-generation college graduate, Langley took part in the university’s Spring 2024 Commencement, earning her bachelor’s degree in sustainable development-environmental studies. She completed her military service in January.

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U.S. Army Reserve veteran Caitlin Langley ’24, fourth from right in the front row, with her unit in Somalia in 2020. Photo submitted

Langley said her grandfather, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, was a source of inspiration when it came to her decision to join the military. However, she was also uncertain of her future beyond high school. Now, as she is headed for the civilian workforce, she describes her time in the military as “one of the best experiences in my adult career.”

“I really enjoyed my experience in the military,” said Langley. “There were a lot of difficult times — like being several countries away at the ages of 19 and 20 — but I learned a lot, and I’d say it’s something that I’d definitely do again.”

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U.S. Army Reserve veteran Cailtin Langley ’24, fourth from left in the back row, with her platoon in Guatemala in 2019. Photo submitted
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U.S. Army Reserve veteran Cailtin Langley ’24, center, with her team in Somalia in 2020. Photo submitted

In addition to being active in the military while in college, Langley was a student assistant in App State’s Major General Edward M. Reeder Jr. Student Veteran Resource Center. She also served as the first woman president of the Student Veterans Association, where she organized numerous community-building events to recruit a wider number of veterans, including women, to get involved in the center’s activities. During App State’s annual Awards of Distinction Ceremony this spring, she received a W.H. Plemmons Leadership Medallion for her commitment to enhancing the quality of life for student veterans.

This Memorial Day, Langley said she honors all U.S. military heroes, especially App State students who died while serving their country.

“It’s a day to remember our heroes’ courage and sacrifice, and also the sacrifices that their families make,” said Langley. “It’s because of their service to our country that we can all enjoy our everyday freedoms.”

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