A citizen-soldier for today's world

Major Lane

After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, Assistant Commandant Alan Lane could not sit back and watch events unfold on television. A true citizen-soldier, Lane didn't hesitate when his countrymen needed him most. He loaded up his truck with cat and dog food, bottled water donated by Vermont Pure, his trusty tools and a lot of faith.

"I didn't know what I was getting into, but I was called to go," Lane said.

On September 19, Lane drove 1,620 miles to Gulfport, Mississippi, and stayed for one week, helping with relief efforts, and at night, sleeping on the floor at a local Baptist church.

"Our accommodations were makeshift and primitive, but we didn't care," Lane said.

A trained responder, Lane met up with a group of trained volunteers from the North Carolina chapter of the Baptist Convention. The Baptist Convention is part of a larger Christian organization that has been responding to disasters since 1967. They provide the manpower and the coordination of a giant mobile relief unit that provides not just a loving heart, but strength of hands. Volunteers staff all kinds of jobs, from cooking meals to cleaning mud out of people's homes. Some work groups are charged with tarping damaged roofs or clearing downed trees. The mobile dining unit feeds up to 10,000 people at a time.

Lane's group was based out of Pass Road Baptist Church, one of ten major logistics centers in Mississippi. "Fort Baptist" as it's become known, is a feeding center with laundry facilities, showers and childcare services for people who have been left without homes, jobs and resources.

Like the Red Cross and Salvation Army, the Baptist Convention responds to emergencies nationwide. Right now, they’re helping people in New Hampshire and Massachusetts clean up after the floods, and have also been activated in South Florida to pick up the pieces that Wilma left behind.

"People don't realize the extent of loss and destruction when a hurricane blows through," Lane said.

Lane plans to head back down to Mississippi during Thanksgiving break and possibly at Christmas.

Major Lane has been at Norwich University since 2002. He retired from the Armed Services after twenty-six years as an Air Force pilot. Lane is both a teacher and cyber entrepreneur and calls his arrival at Norwich a "real blessing."