Claiborne pens book about fallen Vietnam soldier Norman Lane

BROWNSVILLE TN (July 9, 2023): Meet Brownsville native & author Al Claiborne during an Author Talk & Book Signing Monday, July 17, 2023 at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center. Claiborne will discuss his research and book “A Time Past , or What Might Have Been … The Odyssey of Norman Lane.” The program begins at 2 pm, followed by a book signing.

Claiborne grew up in Brownsville, graduated from Vanderbilt University, received his PhD from Duke University and was a Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan before joining the faculty of Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem NC. He currently serves there as Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry. His research of Norman Lane, a casualty of the Vietnam War, has taken him to numerous European countries including East Germany and Japan. In 2014 he established a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the memory of 1st Lt. Norman Lane. This book is the product of his efforts.

Norman Lane was born in Knoxville Tenn., and his youth was spent living in various cities due to his father’s work. Lane’s connections to Brownsville was through his mother and the many summers spent visiting his grandparents, the Marion Thornton family, and attending the annual Taylor Kinfolks Camp Meetings. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, Lane returned to Brownsville to teach English and French at Haywood High School and assisted Coach Russell Lindsey with the freshman football team before choosing to join the Marines. The final chapter of his life brought him back to Brownsville for his funeral service and burial in Tabernacle Cemetery.

Claiborne’s book follows the journey of Lane’s life through his own letters, written over the last three years of his life and through interviews with many of his friends and colleagues. Referred to in his youth as “brilliant,” “a deep thinker,” and an “instigator,” one colleague from his 1966-1967 Officer Candidates School class at Quantico wondered what had attracted Norman, “in some ways a fish out of water,” to the Marine Corps. On March 29, 1968, Norman Lane died in an enemy mortar attack at Cam Lo Hill, Vietnam.

The book signing event is free. Books will be available for purchase or the public can bring their own. All proceeds from the sale of the book, will go to the Norman Lane Jr. Memorial Project For more information, please contact the Center at 731-779-9000 or visit