About Al Claiborne

I am a Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Since 2014 I have served as Chair of the Norman Lane Jr. Memorial Project (http://www.NormanLaneJrMemorialProject.org), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The Project is dedicated to the memory of a 27-year-old Vanderbilt University humanities graduate, who was killed in action in Vietnam on March 29, 1968. His adopted hometown was Brownsville, Tennessee, where I grew up—60 miles from Memphis. A complementary YouTube Channel (https://tinyurl.com/Al-Claiborne-YouTube-Channel) has been developed to augment the history addressed by the Lane Project and this WordPress site.

As a major part of the Lane Project, I published a series of stories on this site over 2015-2019, with the theme: “The Families, the War, and the Remembrance.” These include the stories of family members—my father and his two brothers, my mother’s favorite cousin, and others—who fought and, in some cases, died in the Second World War. The series then transitions to its major focus on the Vietnam War; most, but not all, of the installments tell the story of 1stLt. Norman Lane, USMC, the Vanderbilt English major who became a Marine and went to war. A complete annotated Index, with a Table of Contents, can be accessed here: https://tinyurl.com/Index-Feb-3-2019

Since October, 2019, continuing with the theme, “The Families, the War, and the Remembrance,” I have published a new series of stories focusing on Owen Burgess, who was a great family friend. In his youth, Owen Burgess had served as navigator with a B-17 Flying Fortress crew as they flew into battle over occupied Europe in the late summer and early fall of 1943—until they were shot down over Germany on October 8. Owen spent 19 months in a POW camp, returned to Brownsville after the war, and ultimately became editor of the weekly Brownsville newspaper in 1962. This series is continuing, but a complete annotated Index covering the first eight installments can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/Index-Owen-Burgess

Over the months of August-November, 2020, I published a five-part series, “History, and ‘Time Past,’ ” reviewing the 33-month cycle of racial violence and civil disorder that struck a number of America’s major cities, beginning in the Watts section of Los Angeles on August 11, 1965, and continuing, in the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, in Memphis, Chicago, Washington and other metropolitan areas over Palm Sunday weekend, 1968. Particular attention is given to the February 29, 1968, Report of the National Advisory Commission—the Kerner Commission—on Civil Disorders. The intent is that, in looking back on these events from more than 50 years ago, perhaps we can better judge life in America today. A complete annotated Index to the series can be accessed here: https://tinyurl.com/Index-Time-Past

I can be reached by e-mail at ALC@CSB.WFU.EDU. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.    


  1. I found your site 30 minutes ago and am now crying, at 71 years old. When I first met Lt. Lane in the bush near Con Thien I didn’t like him. He was too “gung-ho” for a ‘green’ lieutenant. Later I cam to love the man after I came to realize what a decent human being he was. What a great man and Marine.

    My eyes always leak when I hear his name or think of him. I remember ( and see him ) running down Mike’s Hill
    to where I was in the rock quarry of the hill. He was running to me. I was a corporal forward observer for .81’s.
    He told me to “take a couple of Marines and go outside our line, around the hill and get ammo”. I almost refused the order, but I knew I couldn’t. We had to go through the enemy. When we arrived at the other side of the hill, our guys said they almost shot us thinking we were Viet Cong.

    The reason my eyes leak is that I have always felt responsible for Lt. lane’s death. On March 29, 1968 I was
    being promoted to sergeant, getting my good conduct medal, and getting a new job. Lt. Lane said he wanted to meet with me after noon chow call. We met and went down the hill a bit to an old mortar pit. He was telling me about the new job and the award ceremony when we were both hit. I always thought it was a .122 rocket, but it may have been a mortar.

    My feelings of guilt remain today and I carry his spirit next to my heart, always.

    Thank you for the memorial to him. I’m so glad I found it.

    Semper Fi, Allen Fisk, Sgt. USMC (Ret.)


  2. I met Norm as a senior in HS and he was in his first year law school. I thought he was wonderful he thought I was a hs kid. I went on to nursing school in Knoxville Tn and he finished law school. We kept in contact during several years and I fully expected to see him when he returned from Vietnam. My horror became real when Norm was killed and his name joined the others I knew from school who would never return. Their names remain in my mind and are inserted as prayers during the Divine Liturgy on Sundays. It is from that death that I joined the TnANG/USAF as a FlightNurse and stayed until that conflict was over.
    I just found your posting and thank you for your work. I will watch for more
    Barbara Pardue retired RN former Captain in the Tn Air National Guard and USAF


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