In memoriam: Lt. Gen. Howard M. Lane, Sr., former Commandant of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets
U.S. Air Force retired Lt. Gen. Howard M. Lane, Sr., who served as Commandant of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets from 1980 to 1989, died May 2, 2014.
Lane was born in 1924 in Auburn, Ala., and enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet in 1942. He received his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant in 1944.
In 1945, he was sent to the Pacific area and flew escort and strike missions over Japan from the island of Iwo Jima in the P-51. He is credited with destroying one Japanese plane in aerial combat over Japan.
In 1950 Lane went to Korea and flew combat missions in the F-86 Sabrejet and was credited with destroying 2 1/2 MIGs in aerial combat.
In 1953, he completed the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. In 1955, he was assigned as a student at the Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School and was named chief of the Fighter Operations Branch, Flight Test Operations Division of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., the following year. In this position he participated in the initial tests of all century-series supersonic fighter aircraft.
After serving as vice commander of the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., in 1968, he went to Southeast Asia and assumed command of the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Bien Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam in April 1969. He completed 256 combat mission in the F-100 Super Sabre.
Numerous command positions followed before he became inspector general of the Air Force in Oct. 1978. In this role he was responsible to the secretary of the Air Force and to the chief of staff for all inspection, security, investigative, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and complaint programs for the U.S. Air Force.
Lane, a highly decorated fighter pilot who flew combat missions in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, retired from active duty in 1980. He served 37 1/2 years on active duty.
Upon his retirement, Lane took over as commandant of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and served for nine years.
Jay Jacobsmeyer, Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Class of 1981 and member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Alumni board shares his experience with Lane, “I was the regimental commander during General Lane’s first year as commandant. He was a great mentor and friend. He gave us a lot of freedom as cadets to implement changes that year.”
U.S. Army retired Lt. Col. Dave Williams, Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Class of 1979 and member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Alumni board remembers his time on the corps staff with Lane.
“General Lane is one of those key people in my life as I look back," said Williams. "He hired me onto his staff only a few months after checking in as the commandant, and I’m still using leadership techniques that I learned from him over thirty years ago. I think it is accurate to credit General Acuff and his staff for halting the declining numbers in the corps, but credit General Lane with leading a turn around that took us up more than 600 cadets in just four years. He was an amazing and yet very private man.”
Lane is survived by his wife, Marion, his two sons, retired U.S. Army Col. Howard M. Lane, Jr. and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. John L. Lane, his five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the residents’ assistance fund at the Indian River Colony Club in Melbourne, Fl., to assist the veterans of all services residing in that retirement community.