He enlisted in the US Navy and served as a fire control man on the LSMR #189 in the Pacific Theater.
In 1954 he graduated from Washington State University with a BA in Dairy Science and was named the Washington State University Agricultural Student of the Year. In August of 1957 he received his MA in Dairy Science from the University of Wisconsin. From 1957 to 1960 Vernon was the Whatcom County Dairy Extension Agent. He earned his PhD in Animal Nutrition from Kansas State University in 1965 and then accepted a Professorship in Dairy Nutrition at Purdue University. In 1990 he retired from Purdue.