SFC Mitchell A. Lane
2nd Battalion, 3rd Special
Forces Group (Airborne)
Based at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Age 34 from Lompoc,
KIA on August 29, 2003 in
Special Forces Condolences Book
Lane fell approximately
25 feet when he was conducting a fast rope infiltration
into a known
enemy cave complex
Lane sent his parents this photo from Kandahar, Afghanistan, the
month before his death
Lane was an
Engineer Sergeant with
2nd Battalion, Company C,
3rd Special Force Group
at Fort Bragg and had been with Army for 12 years. He enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1987 and volunteered for active duty four years later.
He was Selected for Special
Force Training in 1995.
His awards and decorations include
the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Scuba Diver Badge and the Special Forces Tab.
Lane died August 29,
2003, while quick-rappelling down a rope from a hovering helicopter during a nighttime combat assault in Afghanistan. He was a sergeant first class and special operations soldier in the U.S. Army on his second tour of duty in that country.
His former team members told Lane's parents, Richard and Laurie Lane of Lompoc, that Lane may have lost contact with the rope because of gusty winds and turbulence, falling onto a rock and hitting his neck below the edge of his helmet. He never regained consciousness, according to his fellow soldiers.
Lane had not been scheduled to participate in the mission the night of August 28, 2003, and was expected to return home by October 1, 2003, or sooner if a military plane was available. His dedication to the men he was training prompted him to accompany the team.
"I want to go out and help them," Lane reportedly told his commander the evening of the assault.
Lane was awarded a posthumous Purple Heart at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., adding to a long list of medals earned during his 12-year military career.
Lane's passion, adventurous spirit and interest in serving in the military started early, his parents said. The scrapbook he started as an 8 year old includes an Army recruitment advertisement, a U.S. Navy brochure and his application to begin hunter safety training at the age of 13. At 16, he added motorcycles to his list of passions.
He became an excellent marksman and swimmer, and eventually became an instructor in underwater warfare.
The Lanes are grateful for the stories of his generosity, courage, professionalism and fun-loving nature they've received from hundreds of people they've never met from all over the country, glad to add the memories of others to those of their own.
They've learned that their son shared his faith selflessly and used it to comfort others, including the mother of a fellow team member who was killed in action in June 2002.
"Mitch's words were so encouraging it was difficult not to smile and it was easy to love him and his comforting ways," the mother they've never met wrote the Lanes after their son's death.
Laurie Lane said people who knew her son well remember his beautiful heart, radiant smile and sparkling eyes.
Mitch's passion for everything he did, as Laurie recalls it, promises to return again Saturday as the community remembers the life and spirit of one of their own.
Sally Prentiss, principal of Crestview Elementary School, where Mitchell's mother, Laurie Lane, teaches first grade, said Laurie told co-workers her son told her he loved his work.
"He was doing what he wanted to do, that's what he always told her. She was so glad she'd been able to talk to him and that he was able to talk to his younger brother, too."
Prentiss said Lane had been in Afghanistan beginning two years ago, returned to the U.S. and later returned to Afghanistan again.
"We've been with Laurie on this for two years. Her friends and family are giving her all the support they can at this time."
Laurie and Richard Lane, along with their three other sons and their wives, left Tuesday for their son's memorial service in North Carolina, where Mitchell resided with his wife and two young daughters.
Mitchell A. Lane
**Information from SFAHQ.com, The Department of Defense,
Fayetteville Online and The
Associated Press used in this Article.
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