Vernon Lane gave the ultimate sacrifice in World War II. I had several uncles who served in World War II, but he was the only one who never came home. He was killed before I was born and I never had the chance to meet him. So it is on this Memorial Day that I write in memory of him and all those who gave their lives in the service of our country.
Vernon Everett Lane was born to William Everett Lane and Ruberta Hood Lane on January 26, 1919 in Lake County, Tennessee. He was one of six children and the couple’s second son. The 1940 census showed he was married to Evelyn Mae Medlin and had one son, Billy who was seven months old. A second son Richard was born in 1942.
In March of 1945, Vernon was aboard the destroyer U. S. S. Kimberly (DD 521). The destroyer left San Pedro Bay in the Philippines on March 21st for radar picket duty. Destroyers were positioned around Okinawa Island working as radar stations that monitored air activity. Out of 101 destroyers assigned to picket duty, 32 were damaged by kamikaze attacks and 10 were sunk. On the fateful day of March 26, two kamikaze pilots attacked the ship. One plane was hit by fire from the destroyer and, falling from the sky, crashed into the aft gun mounts of the ship. Vernon Everett Lane was one of four men injured or killed that day. Vernon was severely burned and died on 1 April 1945. Shortly after the ship was sent to be mended, but a hole was left in the family ever after.
Vernon’s name appears on a memorial in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Closer to home is his headstone in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis County. He is remembered with memorials of stone and flags put upon his grave every Memorial Day. But I remember the uncle I never met with sadness; the uncle who never saw his wife or his little sons Billy and Dicky again.
You can read more about the U. S. S. Kimberly
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