In Memory of U.S. Air Force Captain
Charles Lane, Jr.
Yankton, South Dakota, Yankton County
April 21, 1942 -- August 23, 1967 (Missing in
October 9, 1973 (Presumed Dead)
Action, Presumed Dead in North Vietnam
Charles Lane, Jr. was born on April 21, 1942, in Omaha,
Nebraska, to Charles and Beatrice (Hroza) Lane. He had one
sister, La Lonnie. Charles first attended grade school at St.
Wenceslaus Catholic School in Tabor, South Dakota, then went to
Tabor High School and graduated in 1960. His mother recalls that
although Charles played football and basketball in high school,
“he was usually on the bench.” He then worked at Bob’s Wholesale
to earn some money for college. Charles married Cheryl Aldrich
in Tabor on November 16, 1963. Soon after, his father died on
December 1, 1963. Charles graduated from Yankton College in
1964. He and Cheryl had two daughters, Jo Anne and Julie.
Charles Lane, Jr. entered in the Air Force on January 1,
1965, after he graduated from college. He was commissioned as an
officer after he trained at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He
then earned his pilot wings at Vance Air Force Base, Enid,
Oklahoma. After that, he took specialized aircrew training at
the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, before he was
assigned to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, to be a pilot in
the Tactical Air Command. Soon after, he went overseas to U-bon,
Thailand, as a pilot of the F-4C Phantom 110, which was fast and
“extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high
altitudes,” making it popular with pilots. Once Charles told his
mother that flying was like baseball. He wrote that it gave a
good feeling, like “if you sat on the bench one minute and were
playing in the World Series the next.”
Captain Charles Lane, Jr. was missing in action on August 23,
1967. He was shot down while flying on his 92nd mission, 10
miles north of Hanoi, North Vietnam. His co-pilot, Major Larry
Carrigan of Arizona, pilot of the Phantom F-4, was immediately
captured when he parachuted from the plane and held as a
prisoner of war for seven years. Later he told Charles’s mother
details about the crash. In addition to their plane, another F-4
was also destroyed in the attack. Of the four men in the two
planes, three parachutes were seen “descending to the ground.”
Charles was in the back seat that day and the missile hit the
plane, so it is believed he was killed instantly. Carrigan said
he flew quite a distance before he crashed and Charles, had he
ejected, should have fallen down sooner. Since North Vietnam was
a wooded, hostile area, recovery wasn’t possible. He was
presumed dead on October 9, 1973. He has a memorial stone at
Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
Among his awards, Captain Lane received the Silver Star, the
Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, and the Air Medal
with eight Oak Leaf Clusters.
From the Town & County Weekly News, Tuesday, June 2, 1998,
issue, Governor Janklow said the following on Memorial Day when
a Veteran Memorial was dedicated in Tabor:
Captain Lane never came home from that
war. You and I have responsibility, as long as we live and
can think, to remember him and others who served. That’s
what Memorial Day is about.
Survivors include his mother, Bea (Lane) Johnson; his widow,
Cheryl Wahlberg of Michigan; his daughter, Julie (Mike) Dinger
and their sons, Daniel and Aaron, Menifee, California; his other
daughter, Jo Anne (Dale) McPherson and their daughter, Jessica,
Fort Richardson, Alaska; and his sister, La Lonnie Kline.
In closing, Captain Charles Lane, Jr. was loved greatly and
fought for freedom for our country, and he will be remembered by
many, including me, for his service and his sacrifice.
This entry was respectfully submitted by Lance McMichael, 8th
Grader, Spearfish Middle School, February 8, 2006. The
information for this entry was provided by Bea Johnson, Yankton
and www.pownetwork.org. Profile approval by Bea Johnson.