by Peter Jakey-Managing Editor
Army Pvt. 1st Class Anthony Lane, a 2011 Onaway High School graduate, recently completed an eight month stint in Afghanistan, but took a much-needed break from military life with a three week furlough. Most of it was spent in Presque Isle County.
He stayed with his grandmother Rose Boyce in Rogers City through last Friday, before heading back to his home base at Fort Lewis, Washington. She has raised him since he was a young child.
Lane attended basic training right out of high school, so he spent a hot and muggy summer of 2011 at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was only in the states for two months following graduation before his deployment to Afghanistan. Most of his active duty time has been in that country.
“That’s all I know,” said Lane, a few hours before his plane was to depart Alpena for the trip to Washington.
His duties included getting explosive rounds down range the safest and most effective way, as well as population engagements, counter insurgency and IED (improvised explosive devise) patrols.
Lane knew he was in one of the world’s most dangerous places, when only a month into the tour, he drove over a 160-pound IED and only 15 percent of it went off.
Lane was in the second vehicle of a convoy that ran over the IED, which went off with a “pop” and some smoke.
“We stopped the vehicle, and called up over the radio, an explosives ordinance disposal (EOD) officer,” said Lane. “They shook our hands, and an EOD officer said, that would have killed everyone in the truck. It was huge.”
A rare rainfall the day before may have compromised the potency of the device and prevented it from completely going off.
While in the country, he said the mission is to make sure the Taliban don’t gain a foothold in key areas of Afghanistan that would affect the government and the people in a negative way. The U.S. military has had an active presence since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 2011.
Lane was involved in an area of the country where the Taliban had been smuggling drugs and weapons from nearby Pakistan to stage attacks on Kandahar, one of the largest cities in the country.
“Because of our battalion and my platoon and the company I was stationed with, there are 4,000 people in Afghanistan that would have been dead by this time last year, that aren’t,” said Lane. “It was at a cost, but we made progress.”
He’s lost four good friends. “I think the hardest day for me in Afghanistan was my squad leader got blown up only 15 feet in front of me, so that was pretty rough. Fortunately, we were able to get him out of there, and he only lost a leg.”
He was still in high school when Osama bin Laden was captured, but Lane was involved in capturing a “pretty big fish.” The subject was walking along side the road and looking fairly suspicious, so they engaged him and decided to bring him in for further questioning and later found out he was a Taliban leader.
“That was really neat,” said Lane.
Lane was an outstanding cross country runner at OHS, qualifying four times for state with Cardinal teams. His running prowess stood out during boot camp and some of his superiors expressed an interest in having him run for West Point.
From a timing standpoint, it just didn’t work out, but he is running for a professional team in Seattle called “The Five K Freaks.” Lane kept in shape at Fort Lewis, running 10 to 12 miles a day, “because I like to excel.”
It didn’t go unnoticed and one of his comrades approached him and asked if he was interested in running and maybe being paid.
He had to win the race, place in the top five, or be first among the “Freaks” to take home some cash. He went out and won two races and claimed more than $2,000 in winnings. “It’s way better than high school,” said Lane. He credits current coach Marty Mix for his success and the success of the OHS program over the years.
Lane’s future plans include possibly trading in a helmet for a toque and become a chef in culinary school.
“I don’t know, I could re-enlist,” said Lane. He is up for promotion in the first couple months of the year, then he plans on going to a specialized school in Georgia. Once he completes that, he’ll be eligible for another promotion.
“So, I could potentially make six and four, which means I would be a staff sergeant, before my four years in the Army are up. If I can fast track like that, I might as well see how far I can go,” he added.
During his stay in Michigan, he visited Lewis and Eddie Robinson, Angie Krajniak, as well as coach Rob Denomme and his wife Dana.
Anthony also cooked some delicious meals while home.
Additionally, he kept busy attending the Lion’s game against Atlanta, traveled to see family in Pennsylvania. He went to an NBA game in Philadelphia, a minor league hockey league game and toured the Smithsonian Museums.