(Presented here is the next installment in a continuing series of the Fontana Honor Roll’s recognition and appreciation for the men from Fontana who gave their lives in service to their country in foreign wars. Beginning publication on Memorial Day weekend and ending on Veterans Day, we extend our thanks and appreciation to the families of these men, our true Fontana heroes.)
The publication of the FONTANA HONOR ROLL has produced many heart-breaking stories and continues to do so. Spec.5 Richard Lane’s story ranks among them.
Initially, all was well. Spec.5 Lane was born Aug. 16, 1944 in Compton but grew up in the Fontana area, attending Colton schools and graduating from Colton High School in 1962. He then attended and graduated from the University of Redlands in 1966, earning his Bachelor’s degree in what appears to be social work. He was president of the Chi Sigma Chi fraternity. An engagement announcement in the San Bernardino Sun told of his future marriage to Miss Anne Louise Johnson of Victorville. His fiancé also attended U of R, where she was treasurer of the Alpha Sigma Pi sorority. They were married at Armstrong Methodist Church in Victorville in December 1966, the same month Richard enlisted in the Army. They then honeymooned in Lake Arrowhead.
Fast forward to Vietnam, where Richard was not only a soldier; he also endeavored to help the South Vietnamese people. A news article of Lane’s tragic death appeared in the S.B. Sun on June 28, 1968 and is deserving of reproduction here:
“An accidental explosion of ammunition captured from the Viet Cong caused the death of Sp. 5 Richard A. Lane, 23, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Lane, 8254 Tokay Ave., Fontana.
According to official notification from the War Department, Lane was serving in the Chu Lai area at the time of the fatal explosion.
He left for Vietnam last December after serving six months in Hawaii and would have been eligible for discharge in August. Surviving the young soldier, besides his parents, are his widow, Anne J. Lane of Victorville and two sisters, Judy Wagner in Minnesota and Lynette Hopkins of Pomona.
After studying the Vietnamese language, Lane was assigned to act as interpreter and social worker among the villagers near Chu Lai. In addition to distributing rice and assisting with the establishment of medical clinics, his duties included collection of captured ammunition.
Apparently, it was while engaged in that work that Lane lost his life (when the captured Viet Cong munitions exploded)…. Lane was preparing to devote his life to a career in social work at the time he enlisted in the Army in August, 1966. Funeral arrangements are pending.”
Official Army records list Lane’s cause of death as “misadventure.” (This writer was unable to harmonize this term with the given facts of his death.) He was serving near LZ (Landing Zone) Dottie in the area of Binh Son in South/Southeast Vietnam. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was “Infantry Operations and Intelligence Specialist.” One news article said he was in Officer Candidate School before deploying; however his rank of E-5 indicated he was not promoted to an officer. He participated in the Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase III and IV campaigns and the Tet Counteroffensive campaign. He was assigned to the 11th Light Infantry Brigade, 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry, “E” Company. Spec5 Lane was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Purple Heart, Marksmanship Badge, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Army Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Gallantry Cross and the Army Good Conduct Medal.
Lane is memorialized on the Vietnam Veterans Wall in Washington, D.C. on Panel 56W, Line 5. He is buried in Green Acres Memorial Park and Cemetery in Bloomington.