James Everett Lane

Specialist Five
Army of the United States
06 February 1933 - 15 July 1962
Odessa, Texas
Panel 01E Line 011

United States Army Military Advisory Group Vietnam
Silver Star


Purple Heart (2), Good Conduct (3), National Defense (2), AF Expeditionary, Korean Service, Vietnam Service, UN Service, Korean War Service, Vietnam Campaign

Army Parachutist

The database page for James Everett Lane

4 Mar 2004

Jim was the first casualty of the Vietnam War from Odessa, Texas. Jim was killed when the helicopter that he crewed was shot down in July 1962. Vietnam was a far away country and no one knew where it was. In fact, his death didn't make any real headlines in the local paper. It was four years and one month later before another Odessan was killed in Vietnam. Jim was almost a footnote, but by late 1966 Jim's death was suddenly remembered. Jim was a career soldier and at the time of his death, he had served eight years in the Army. Jim is remembered by his community and by the Permian Basin Vietnam Memorial located at Midland International Airport. May his sacrifice never be forgotten.

19 Apr 2004

The following information was provided by the Army Transportation School at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and is taken from SP5 Lane's "Statement of Military Service" (dated 16 Jan 1967) and other official records provided to the School at the time the James E. Lane Barracks was dedicated on 4 May 1967:

"James E. Lane enlisted 21 July 1950. He was assigned to Company G, 188th Airborne Infantry Regiment, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and then departed overseas for service in Korea from 22 April 1953 to 18 November 1953. He was assigned to Company I, 17th Infantry Regiment when he was wounded in action on 4 June 1953. He was discharged from the service under honorable conditions 10 December 1953 at Fort Bliss, Texas.

"James E. Lane re-enlisted from Odessa, Texas on 6 March 1957 as a Private and re-enlisted as a Specialist 3 on 4 June 1958 for his own vacancy. He was promoted to Sp4 on 5 June 1958. He was promoted to Specialist 5 on 22 April 1959.

"He was primarily a helicopter mechanic and he departed for overseas service on 21 November 1961 to Vietnam. It was there that the aircraft in which he was a crew member was shot down by the Viet Cong on 15 July 1962.


"Silver Star (Vietnam); Purple Heart (2 Awards); Good Conduct Medal (3 awards); Korean Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars for Third Korean Winter and Korean Summer-Fall 1953 campaigns; National Defense Service Medal (2 awards); United Nations Service Medal; Combat Infantryman's Badge; Republic of Korea Presidental Unit Citation Badge; Parachute Wings; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Korea; Expert and Sharpshooter Badges (Rifle and Carbine); Vietnam Campaign; Vietnam Service."

04 Dec 2005

I found a newspaper article dated July 16, 1972, Odessa American newspaper, marking the ninth anniversary of James Everett Lane's death. Jimmy was the first casualty of the Vietnam War from Odessa and the first from the Permian Basin. In the article it states he won a Bronze Star for heroism in addition to his other awards in Korea, however, this medal was not reflected in his service record provided to the U.S. Transportation School, Fort Eustis, Virginia in 1967 when Lane Barracks was dedicated. Military record keeping during World War II and Korea are infamous for not having all awarded medals recorded, especially those awarded months or years after an action. No doubt, Specialist Lane was a decorated soldier who did his duty above and beyond. Demonstrating this, Specialist Lane was a helicopter mechanic who volunteered to act as a gunner on the helicopter in place of a soldier who was ill on the flight which resulted in his death.

Between 1967 and 1972, Lane Hall was dedicated at Fort Rucker, Alabama in honor of Specialist Lane, as well as that at Fort Eustis. An Army Airfield in Vietnam also carried his name during the Vietnam War.

In the wedding picture, James Everett Lane is the second person on the left side (left to right). The photo at the top of the page was taken for his senior picture for the 1950 OHS annual.

Billy M. Brown


Saturday marked the ninth anniversary of Ector County's first fatality of the Vietnam War. Since the, 59 other young Ector men have given their lives in the cause.

Spec-5 James Everett (Jimmy) Lane, a 29 year old career soldier from Odessa, was among three American officers killed July 16, 1962 when their helicopter was shot down by guerrillas near Dak Rode in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam.

Another officer and a Vietnamese soldier survived.

A father of three, Lane was serving his second hitch in the Army. He had quit school in his senior year at Odessa High School and enlisted in the paratroopers in 1950. He was 17 years old.

Lane's mother, Mrs. Mozelle Lane, 414 West 31st Street, said that all he ever wanted to be was a career soldier.

"Instead of reading funny books like other kids," says Mrs. Lane, "he had books on airplanes, boats and flags."

"He was very patriotic. He was too young, when he first enlisted and I was against, but he was more or less an Army boy from the start."

He served in the Korean War and was discharged in 1953. He returned to Odessa and worked as a roughneck, truck driver and painter until he re-enlisted in 1956.

"I guess he tried to come back but felt he just didn't fit anywhere but in the Army. He was very career-minded," says his mother.

Lane, who moved here in 1946. was stationed in Vietnam where special forces were engaged in a small-scale war with Communist Viet Cong guerrillas. He was a helicopter mechanic.

"He said that he had rather go over there," remembers Mrs. Lane, "because he didn't want any fighting over here."

He was stationed in Alaska prior to moving to the Far East. His wife, Jo Ann, and three children now reside in Orlando, Florida.

Lane received the Bronze Star for his part in a saving a wounded buddy during action near Porkchop Ridge during the Korean War. He was wounded by shell fragments while carrying the wounded soldier to safety. He also received the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.

A major facility at the U.S. Army Aviation Center and School at Ft. Rucker, Alabama is dedicated to the Odessan. The building commemorates the memory of the individual who "has made a distinctive contribution to the Army and Army aviation in particular." Building number 411 is designated Lane Hall in his honor.

How does Mrs. Lane feel about the Army now?

"It's a great thing. But I don't know about the war. We aren't getting ahead."

"I don't know what we should do, but maybe we should pull out if it will save the other kid's lives. Jimmy was just a kid, you know."

Odessa American
Dtd July 16, 1972
Transcribed by Billy M. Brown

From a hometown representative,
Billy M. Brown
4015 Melody Lane, Odessa, Texas 79762

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 15 July 1962 a CH-21C (tail number 56-02084) of the 8th Transportation Company was conducting a reconnaissance mission near Dak Rode village in Kontum Province. According to the VHPA database the helicopter carried a four-man crew and three passengers - LTC Anthony J. Tencza, the Senior Advisor to the ARVN 22d Infantry Division, and two ARVN officers.

The helicopter was at a very low altitude and airspeed - reportedly less than 100 feet and about 60 knots - when it was hit by enemy fire and brought down. Four Americans and one Vietnamese died in the crash; one American - copilot Major R. F. Cornell - and one Vietnamese survived. The dead were

  • MAAGV Advisors
  • 8th Trans Co, MAAGV
    • CWO Joseph A. Goldberg, Linwood, NJ, pilot
    • SP5 Harold L. Guthrie, Burlington, NC, crew chief
    • SP5 James E. Lane, Odessa, TX, gunner

  • One ARVN officer, name unknown
The following text is paraphrased from TimeLine Indochina for July 15, 1962:
The first American helicopter crew was lost during a reconnaissance mission.

On board the CH-21C were Colonel Anthony Tenzca, Major Bob Corniel, CWO Joseph Goldberg, SP5 Harold Guthrie, SP5 James E. Lane, and a unnamed Vietnamese observer. 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, it came under hostile fire. Specialist Lane, the door gunner, returned fire at the enemy, concealed in the mist, who fired repeatedly at the helicopter until it crashed into the trees.

"I was following in my ship" said Max Wilson (quoted at the Namlore site), "I saw it go down, but low on fuel and ammo, there was nothing we could do."

One survivor, Major Corniel, floating down a jungle river, was located five miles from the crash site. The Vietnamese soldier was found nearby. Among the dead at or near the site were Colonel Tenzca, CWO Goldberg, SP5 Guthrie, SP5 Lane, and the second ARVN officer.

Camp Goldberg in Qui Nhon, Guthrie Hangar at Camp Goldberg, and Tenzca Tower at Fort Myer, Virginia, were named in honor of those killed in the crash. Specialist Lane, whose normal duties were maintenance and who had volunteered for the mission, was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, and Lane Hangar at Camp Goldberg was named in his honor. Six years later Lane Barracks was dedicated at the Transportation School, Fort Eustis, Virginia.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009