William Robert Lang – Commander, United States Navy

William Robert Lang, Commander, United States Navy, Retired, passed away Monday, June 9, 2008, at Miriam Hospital In Providence Rhode Island.


Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, he graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1952 and in 1956 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Wooster Ohio, where he majored in geology.

He joined the Navy in 1956 and began his career as a Naval Aviator, flying helicopters in training, rescue, antisubmarine, and combat operations. In his 22 years of Navy service, he earned many commendations. These include the Bronze Star with combat distinguishing device and the Distinguished Flying Cross and gold star for heroic achievement while serving with Helicopter Attack Squadron Three in the Republic of Vietnam. He was an Attack Helicopter Fire Team Leader flying UH-1B gunships throughout the Mekong River Delta. He also received 20 Air Medals, the Navy Unit Commendation, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and several other awards.

During his Navy career, he and his family lived in Lakehurst New Jersey, Virginia Beach Virginia, Villefranche, France, where he served as officer-in-charge of the Sixth Fleet flagship helicopter detachment, and in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, where he was CH-47 Weapons Systems Officer at Boeing Vertol. In earlier years, as a flight instructor in Pensacola he recorded over 3,000 accident-free flying hours. After retiring from the Navy he worked for Reflectone, Inc. as a project manager, building helicopter-training simulators in Tampa, Florida.

In recent years, he has been an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Newport, serving on the Inner Life, Financial, and Building and Grounds committees. Using his love of woodworking, he created hundreds of wooden figures for use in the young children’s worship program.

He leaves behind his beloved wife of 51 years, Sandra Cecilia Lang, and brothers Jack, Lee and Admiral James R. Lang. Three sons survive him: Robert Charles Lang, Peter James Lang, and William Alexander Lang, and two daughters, Linda Sue Vanhoy and Patricia Carol Lang O’Regan. Mike Vanhoy, Kassie Buchanan, Jeffrey O’Regan and Kandice Lang also loved him. He left fourteen grandchildren: Robert James Lang, William Roy Lang, Steven Thomas Lang, Kasey Cecilia Lang, Brandon Buchanan, Kylie Vanhoy Williams, Shelby Leigh Vanhoy, Alex Nicole Vanhoy, Eva Christine Lang, Liam Lang O’Regan, Max Alexander Lang, Jack Kimmel Lang, Joseph Charles Lang and Riley Robert Schutt, and one great-grandchild, Noah Edward Williams.

A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church Saturday, June 28, 2008, at 11 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting contributions to the First Presbyterian Church Building Restoration Fund, 4 Everett Street, Newport, Rhode Island 02840.

Commander Lang was laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, 7 November 2008


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 02/13/1934
  • DATE OF DEATH: 06/09/2008

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