James at Fort Richardson, front row, far right
JAMES EVERETT LANE, SPECIALIST FIVE, U.S. ARMY, ODESSA, ECTOR COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Combat Infantryman's Badge, Parachute Wings, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster (2 awards-Korea and Vietnam), Bronze Star Medal with "v" device, Good Conduct Medal with 2 Loops, National Defense Service Medal with Gold Star (2 awards), Korean Service Medal with two (2) Bronze Stars for participation in Third Korean Winter and Korean Summer-Fall-1953 Campaigns; United Nations Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation Badge, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Vietnam),Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medals.
James was the first Permian Basin Resident to be killed in Vietnam.
James was born in Mosheim, Bosque County, Texas northwest of Waco. He was the only child born to the marriage of Hazel Mozelle Thompson and Everett Lane. His parent's divorced and James moved with his mother to Odessa in 1946, where she opened "Mo's Bar." It was a place that catered to the oilfield labor following World War II. James attended Odessa Junior and Senior High School.
He became fascinated with the helicopter when Lyndon Baines Johnson came to Odessa in the summer of 1948 campaigning for the Texas Senate Seat and was using a helicopter to fly him around. James began to research this machine and was enamored with it.
Odessa High School-1950
He dropped out of Odessa High School before his senior year to join the U.S. Army at age 17. He enlisted in July 25, 1950. He did his basic infantry and airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was assigned to Company G, 188th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. While assigned to this unit, he sustained a fractured ankle while on a training jump and the injury disqualified him from service with the airborne unit.
He departed for Korea and served with an infantry company from April 22, 1953 until November 18, 1953. He was wounded in action June 4, 1953, receiving the Combat Infantryman's Badge, his first Purple Heart, the Bronze Star for Valor and was awarded the Silver Star for carrying a wounded soldier out of a hostile area near Porkchop Ridge. He and two other soldiers were attempting to pull a severely wounded soldier out of the hostile fire. They had been cut off and in the process, night fell upon them. After attempting to avoid the enemy and having no light, they attempted to maneuver through the darkness and throw the carnage. When the other two soldiers, became exhausted, James continued on his own through the darkness, enemy fire and despite wounds he had sustained, he was able to get help to return to save the wounded soldier and to get relief for the other two soldiers. He was wounded by shell fragments during his plight . He was discharged under honorable conditions December 10, 1953 at Fort Bliss, Texas.
James in Korea-1953
He returned home and married Jo Ann Stanfield of Odessa. His oldest daughter, Pamela Denise was born in Odessa in 1956. After being a civilian for almost three years, James worked as a roughneck, truck driver, and painter in/around Odessa. He didn't feel that he fit in as a civilian and re-enlisted in the Army March 6, 1957 in Odessa.
He completed basic training at Fort Ord and was considered to be the old man. He had more combat decorations and was older than all of his cadre, but he graduated as the outstanding trainee with soldiers six to eight years younger. He, then attended courses at the Transportation School, Fort Eustis, Virginia which included Aircraft Comp Repairman, Airframe Repairman and Tandem Rotary Helicopter Repairman.
James was then assigned duties as a Senior Helicopter Mechanic for the 334th Transportation Detachment at Fort Riley, Kansas. His second daughter, Cynthia was born while he was stationed at Fort Riley. James re-enlisted for his own vacancy at a rank of Sp3 to be promoted to Sp4 June 14, 1958. He, then transferred with his unit to Alaska on August 28, 1958 to May 7, 1961, where his son, James Everett Lane, Jr was born. He was then assigned duties as a Helicopter Mechanic with the 140th Transportation Detachment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The unit was to be deployed to Vietnam and as such, all of the helicopters were flown cross country to San Francisco to be put on ships for the trip to South Vietnam. James and his group, took off from Fort Bragg and the trip took eight days. They would fly about 250 miles per day. As the group flew over the southwest, one of their stops was to be in Carlsbad, New Mexico. James' mother drove five hours at night to see James. It was the last time she saw him alive. After the unit arrived on the West Coast, his unit deployed to Vietnam on November 21, 1961.
James at Fort Bragg-1961
From an article from TimeLine Indochina witten by MSG Ray Bowes, U.S. Army retired in his book: Vietnam Military Lore
“The First American helicopter crew was lost during a reconnaissance mission in Vietnam on July 15, 1962.
On board the Ch-21C (tail number 56-02084) of the 8th Transportation Company were a crew of four (pilot; co-pilot; crew chief and door gunner); three passengers, a LTC who was the Senior American Advisor to the 22nd ARVN Infantry Division and two Senior ARVN officers.
Those identified were:
LTC Anthony Tencza, American Advisor
Major Bob Corniel, Co-pilot
CWO Joseph Goldberg, Pilot-Aircraft Commander
SP5 Harold Guthrie-Crew Chief
Sp5 James E. Lane-Door Gunner
2 unnamed ARVN officers
Visibility was poor and the Shawnee had maneuvered through low clouds and was over unsecured enemy territory in mountainous terrain when, near the village of Dak Rode, the helicopter came under hostile fire. Specialist Lane returned fire at the enemy, concealed in the mist. The enemy continued to fire upon the helicopter until it crashed into the trees.
According to Max Wilson, the pilot who was following in another Shawnee, “ I saw it go down, but low on fuel and ammo, there was nothing we could do.”
Later, one survivor, Major Corniel, was found floating down a jungle river approximately five miles from the crash site. The other survivor, one of the ARVN officers was found nearby. Among the dead at or near the site of the crash were LTC Tenazca, CWO Goldberg, SP5 Guthrie, SP5 Lane and the other ARVN officer.
Special Lane was primarily a helicopter mechanic but he had volunteered to fly as the door gunner on this mission. "
Also from MSG Bowe's book, Major Corniel stated that after the aircraft went down, there were three survivors. The other two was a Vietnamese officer and SP5 James Lane. Major Corniel stated he was knocked unconscious and when he came around, SP5 Lane was attending him and also trying to pull the dead from the helicopter. He stated Specialist Lane had a compound fracture of his leg, however, Specialist Lane was doing everything he could do with limited mobility. Very shortly, the V.C. began to fire on the aircraft and they could see the V.C. moving in their direction. They decided that they needed to move away from the area and they bunched together and moved as quickly as they could. Major Corniel stated they moved for an hour or so and came to a river. At this point, they got into the water and let the current take them down stream and during this time they lost contact with the Vietnamese officer. He stated Specialist Lane, then began to go in and out of unconsciousness and they got out of the river into an area, where Major Corniel could see that Specialist Lane was in really bad shape. He and Specialist Lane agreed that he could go no further and they decided that Major Corniel would continue down stream hopefully to find help.
When Major Corniel was found floating down river and when they could get back to the area, Specialist Lane had died from his injuries.
In 1963, Lane Hanger at Camp Goldberg in Qui Nhon, Vietham named for Specialist Lane. In 1967, Lane Barracks at Fort Eustis, Virginia was also named for Specialist Lane, as well in 1969, Lane Hall (a parachute maintenance building) at Fort Rucker, Alabama was named for Specialist Lane. Specialist Lane was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross and his second Purple Heart for the actions that resulted in his death.
Specialis James E. Everitt was was buried with full military honors at the Sunset Memorial Garden's Cemetery in Odessa, Texas on August 4, 1962. James was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Valor and his second Purple Heart.
Sunset Memorial Garden's Cemetery-Odessa, Texas
Specialist Lane was survived by his wife, Jo Ann Lane and his three children, Pam, Cynthia and James Jr. He was also survived by his mother, Hazel Mozelle Lane of Odessa, his father E. E. Lane of Anchorage, Alaska and his two half brothers, Jackie and Don Lane. His wife and children were residing in Orlando, Florida in 1972. His motherr passed away in 1974 and she now rests next to him.