Lane receives Purple Heart after 60 years

Glenn Lane has a few scars and many sea stories as reminders of his Navy years and as of Sunday, April 18, he has a new medal — the Purple Heart.

This award comes more than 60 years after Lane was injured and at least five years after his daughter learned he never received the honor.

“I asked to see his Purple Heart one day,” Trish Anderson, Lane’s daughter, said. “I was so surprised he didn’t have one. I knew he had shrapnel wounds and was burnt.”

Lane’s career began with a bang Dec. 7, 1941, on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While fighting fires on the Arizona, Lane was blown off that battleship and swam through the burning harbor to the USS Nevada, another doomed ship. After that awful day, Lane decided to take to the skies. He served as an aircrewman on combat flights during World War II and Korea. Lane ended his career as Whidbey Island Naval Air Station’s first command master chief petty officer.

Even after serving for 30 years and through three wars, medals don’t hang in heavy rows in the left side of his uniform. Lane has the obligatory campaign ribbons for different wars. And he has Good Conduct medals. But nothing more prestigious than that.

“Once I got over the shock of him not having a Purple Heart, I said I would see he got one,” Anderson said Sunday.

Anderson said she made lots of telephone calls and pushed a lot of paper to get her 86-year-old father his latest medal.

Capt. Steven Black, commanding officer of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, presented Lane with the medal Sunday and spoke of the Purple Heart’s significance.

Black said he regularly authorizes medals, but this was the first time he’s been in contact with a Purple Heart.

“Today was special because of the nature of the medal,” Black said. “It’s special because I’ve come to think of the Lanes as friends. And it reaches back 60 years to a defining moment in the Navy and our nation.”

Unlike other medals, Purple Hearts are based on record, not on nominations and recommendations from a board. For Lane to receive the medal, he had to find two people who had seen him be wounded and would sign affidavits to that fact. After almost six decades, with World War II veterans in their 80s, Lane and Anderson had some searching. They did locate two men who were in Lane’s division on the Arizona. After receiving their statements, the Lanes submitted more forms and waited. Finally, the award was official.

The Purple Heart is a special award for Glenn Lane. “On the back, it reads, ‘For military merit.’ It’s not just for wounds,” he said.

Master Chief Petty Officer Rick Bynum was the master of ceremonies Sunday and said it was the greatest honor in his 27 years in the Navy.

“To honor a shipmate, especially another master chief, was unbelievable,” Bynum said.

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