Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lane (Norman L.) Tollett laid to rest

ELYRIA -- "A true hero."

Those were the words Norman Lane Tollett's battalion commander used to describe the Army Sergeant, who was laid to rest yesterday at Brookdale Cemetery in Elyria. A service was held earlier in the Coliseum at Elyria Catholic HIgh School -- Tollett's alma mater.

Underneath a "Panther green" banner which read, "Loyalty That Never Dies," Major General David Huntoon, commandant of the U.S. Army War College, relayed the kind words Tollett's battalion had for their fallen comrade.

'Lane was a very compassionate man with an easy manner," Huntoon said. "He epitomized selfless service."

Tollett, who died from combat injuries in Iraq on April 28, was given a hero's burial, accompanied not only by fellow infantrymen but also by dozens of veterans from all branches of the military, riding motorcycles to the burial and carrying American flags.

On the cloudy spring morning, more than 500 people filled the gymnasium. With the sound of birds chirping coming through the open doors, they all listened -- and cried softly -- as the Rev. Allan Laubenthal, Tollett's great-uncle, officiated the ceremony.

"Lane felt a great call to make justice, to make the world a better place," Laubenthal said. "Although he did not live to see the conclusion, he moved us all a step forward."

Tollett, 30, was co-captain of his high school football team, and graduated from Elyria Catholic in 1994.

He was inspired to join the Army after visiting the site of the World Trade Centers shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. He was on his second tour of duty when he died.

Laubenthal remembered Tollett as a warm, funny and compassionate man.

"I can always remember, at family gatherings, a constant refrain -- "When's Lane coming?' "When's Lane coming?"' Laubenthal recalled.

Huntoon also repeated comments from Tollett's battalion recalling his warmth.

"If you were in a room with him, and he laughed, you couldn't help but laugh," Huntoon said.

Huntoon presented the family three medals for Tollett's service -- the the Good Conduct, the Bronze Star and the Purple Star.

"He will be remembered forever for his actions," Huntoon said.

Tollett served in Company "C," First Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.

From the Morning Journal

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Lane (Norman L.) Tollett remembered

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Lane (Norman L.) Tollett dies 'of wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms during combat patrol operations'