The Life of Allan Lane : The Guardsman (1912 - 1952) May 28, 2017 20:41:00 GMT -5
Post by Midnight on May 28, 2017 20:41:00 GMT -5
The Life of Allan Lane
(1912 - 1952)
By P.Michael Hodge
Allan Lane was born on May 11th, 1912. A small town butcher's son in Whitby, Virginia. Allan spent his childhood watching his father work and doing odd jobs around his father's shop and, as soon as he was old enough to handle a knife and cleaver safely and responsibly, was working as an apprentice butcher when other kids his age were still in school.
Although the depression hit Allan's family hard, people still needed to eat and Lane & Son's Butchers weathered the worst of the depression and allowed Allan's father to pay the bills and keep a roof over his family's heads. The constant exodus of people leaving to look for opportunities in nearby Vanguard City, however, kept pushing business farther and farther down, making it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.
Still a bachelor in his late 20's, Allan's mother breathed a sigh of relief when Allan began dating that nice young Brennon girl that he met at the neighborhood Church Social. It was a matter of much rejoicing when they announced their engagement six months later. A wedding date was set for a June wedding in the following summer of 1942.
All thoughts of a wedding were dashed, however, when Japanese forces unexpectedly attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, taking the life of Allan's younger brother Lieutenant Gary Lane, USN.
The following day, manning the shop alone while his parents mourned the passing of Gary, Allan heard that the United States had declared war on Japan.
Allan stopped what he was doing and looked at the Meat Cleaver in his hand. He walked over to the sink and carefully rinsed the blood off the cleaver and placed it back on it's hook. The meat he was cutting, he put back in the ice box. He then walked out the front door and flipped the sign to "Sorry, We're Closed!" and locked the door behind him as he left.
Allan walked across the street to the United States Army recruitment office and, to the discomfort of the recruitment officer in front of him, signed his enlistment papers while still wearing his blood-stained apron from the shop. Within a week, Allan was on a bus heading for boot camp.
When he was finally shipped overseas, Allan was itching to get into the fight. And fight he did, like a man possessed. His record in the field in North Africa quickly earned him a promotion to Corporal and then Sergeant. Although he had very little formal education, Allan proved a quick study on tactics and strategy and quickly developed an uncanny ability to anticipate the enemy's next move. This talent kept both him and his men alive on more than one occasion; quickly earning his platoon the nickname of "Lane's Lucky Legion".
But their luck was finally to run out on the beaches of France on June 6, 1944.
Lane and his men were put under the command of James Earl Rudder of the 2nd Ranger Battalion. Their target was a massive concrete cliff-top gun emplacement at Pointe du Hoc. The task was to scale the 30 meter (100 ft) cliffs under enemy fire with ropes and ladders, and then attack and destroy the German coastal defense guns, which were thought to command the Omaha and Utah landing areas. The Ranger commanders did not know that the guns had been moved prior to the attack, and they had to press farther inland to find them but eventually destroyed them.
However, the beach fortifications themselves were still vital targets since a single artillery forward observer based there could have called down accurate fire on the U.S. beaches. The Rangers were eventually successful, and captured the fortifications. They then had to fight for two days to hold the location, losing more than 60% of their men.
"Lane's Lucky Legion" were among those lost that day. The only surviving member of the platoon was Lane himself. And the prognosis for Lane's lasting through the night were not good. Still unconscious, and likely to die before the dawn, Lane and many other wounded and dying soldiers were taken to a special facility hastily constructed in the basement of a nearby hospital, commandeered by Military Intelligence.
There, he and the other men were experimented upon with alien medical technology that Military Intelligence would be crucial in saving the lives of their men in the field. Although initial trials had proved promising under laboratory conditions, this was the first chance they had to test the equipment under battlefield conditions.
Of the 100 test subjects used, 43 died during treatment, 21 showed no improvement and died from their original injuries, 18 showed initial improvements but later died of complications, 11 recovered enough to be sent home, 5 recovered sufficiently to eventually return to active duty and two survived to become something more than what they were before. The identity of one of these two, test subject 98, was classified by the military and his eventual fate remains a mystery.
But the other success, test subject 73, Allan Lane, went on to become a symbol of American Patriotism and the purity of the American Spirit...The Guardsman!
Initially, Lane showed no unusual side effects other than his survival against all odds and was kept in the hospital above the lab where he was treated for three months, giving him time to fully recuperate from his injuries and giving Military Intelligence a chance to keep him under close supervision for negative side-effects from their "treatments".
Eventually he was declared "fit for duty", Lane was released from the hospital with a promotion to Captain and assigned a new unit and returned to the front lines.
During one of his earlier actions after being released from hospital, Lane took part in the Allied assault to liberate Verdun, France in the early days of September, 1944. After the city was secured, Lane took it upon himself to escort several of his wounded men back to the secured battlefield hospital for treatment, leaving his second-in-command in charge of the remainder.
While at the hospital, Lane met Sharon Morgan White, an army WAC stationed there. After seeing that his men would be well cared for, Lane set out to return to the front lines but was stopped by leaving the hospital by Military Intelligence. It seems that their "supervision" hadn't ended with his release back to active duty and they were highly interested in some of the more interesting points of Lane's recent action in Verdun.
Under close cross-examination, Lane was made to realize that his last mission had been anything but "ordinary". Made to go over the combat several times, Lane began to pick up on things he hadn't noticed at the time. Things that he had overlooked in the heat of battle.
It seems that Allan Lane was no longer just a simple soldier in the trenches. He was now something else.
And his government had plans for him.
If Lane thought boot camp was tough, that was a joy-ride compared to the grueling training he was put through over the next two months by Military Intelligence in order to get him to achieve his full potential in a very short period of time. Every spare minute that he was given, however, he would visit with his men at the hospital and the beautiful young nurse he'd taken a shine to.
While his trainers put him through his paces, the military propaganda machine was hard at work creating a "persona" for Lane; a symbol around which the Allied troops could rally.
Someone suggested "The American" but others felt this would isolate and disenfranchise the other Allied troops. A more neutral "Guardsman" was selected instead.
It was determined that his costume would be predominantly white. Not only did it denote purity but Lane's powers would protect it from getting dirty under battlefield conditions. A pristine white figure under the blood, gore and mud of battlefield conditions would be awe-inspiring to the troops and would be unnerving to the opposing forces. Psychological warfare at its finest. A mask was added to protect Lane's family from reprisal by foreign agents.
Finally, a symbol was needed. Since The Guardsman would be the defender of everything that was good and true, his symbol would be a shield emblazoned upon his chest. As a concession to giving up the word "American" in Guardsman's name, the shield symbol would be a stylized representation of the American Flag, a symbol of truth, justice and democracy throughout the world.
And thus was born Allan Lane's career as The Guardsman.
He was then parachuted into key military actions throughout the European theatre in order to rally the troops and demoralize the enemy lines, while newsreel footage of him inspired the families of military men back home and inspiring many young un-conscripted men to enlist.
Even though the Allies won every battle The Guardsman took part in, with uncharacteristically low loss of life, there was no denying that his real contribution to the war effort was the emotional shot in the arm that The Guardsman gave to Americans everywhere. To both the men stationed overseas and those left waiting behind at home.
On March 7, 1945, The Guardsman was sent in to Cologne to assist allied forces in taking the city and establish a bridge across the Rhine at Remagen. It was there that Guardsman encountered Virago for the very first time.
Fighting side-by-side, Guardsman was both impressed and a little intimidated by the fierce warrior-woman as she tore through the enemy ranks like a buzz saw through flank steak (he's a butcher, what other analogy did you have in mind?).
Allan, however failed to recognize Virago as the beautiful nurse from the Verdun field hospital and so was quite taken by surprise when, at the end of the battle, covered in the blood of her enemies, Virago pulled in Guardsman for an unexpectedly passionate victory kiss to the cheers and whistles of the troops around them. He might not have recognized her, but she definitely recognized him.
Onlookers say it was the only time they ever saw Guardsman let blood get on his pristine white uniform.
Seeing a golden opportunity, Military Intelligence co-opted Virago into their "Guardsman" program and Virago and Guardsman made an unstoppable team pushing the allied forces further on towards victory. The time they spent together enabled their budding romance to blossom and they were married by an Army Chaplain on April 11th, 1945.
The happiest day of Allan Lane's life was followed up the next day by a sight that shook him to the very core of his being as he was personally exposed to the depths which man's inhumanity to man might sink.
On April 12th, 1945, Guardsman and Virago led the Allies in liberating the Buchenwald concentration camp. Witness to the countless horrors in her life, Virago accepted the scene with stoic indifference. Guardsman, however, with his peaceful small town upbringing was totally unprepared for the human degradation he saw there that day. He might have broken down completely if one of the camp inmates, a young Elie Wiesel, had not taken his hand and said, "Danke. Wir sind frei."
Virago translated for him, "Thank you. We are free."
Tears welled up in Guardsman's eyes as he said to the young man, with Virago translating, "No sir, not all of you. As God as my witness, I won't rest until you are."
Following that, Guardsman starting telling his superiors where he was going next and what battles he would fight.
On April 29th, Guardsman almost single-handedly liberated the Dachau concentration camp from the Germans, freed the inmates, and oversaw as the camp commander turned the camp over to the Allied forces.
The events that then transpired are best described in the book book entitled "The Day the War Ended," written by Martin Gilbert based on the account given by Albert Guérisse, one of the freed inmates.
As the first American officer, a major, descended from his tank, "the young Teutonic lieutenant, Heinrich Skodzensky," emerged from the guard post and came to attention before the American officer. The German is blond, handsome, perfumed, his boots glistening, his uniform well-tailored. He reports as if he were on the military parade grounds near Unter den Linden during an exercise, then very properly raising his arm he salutes with a very respectful "Heil Hitler!" and clicks his heels. "I hereby turn over to you the concentration camp of Dachau, 30,000 residents, 2,340 sick, 27,000 on the outside, 560 garrison troops."
The American major did not return the German Lieutenant's salute. He hesitates a moment as if he were trying to make sure he is remembering the adequate words. Then he spits into the face of the German, "Du Schweinehund!" And then, "Sit down here" - pointing to the rear seat of one of the jeeps which in the meantime have driven up. The major gave an order, the jeep with the young German officer in it went outside the camp again. A few minutes went by. Then I heard several shots.
Lieutenant Skodzensky was dead. Within an hour, all five hundred of his garrison troops were to be killed, some by the inmates themselves but more than three hundred of them by the American soldiers who had been literally sickened by what they saw of rotting corpses and desperate starving inmates. In one incident, an American lieutenant machine gunned 346 of the SS guards after they had surrendered and were lined up against a wall. The lieutenant, who had entered Dachau a few moments earlier, had just seen the corpses of the inmates piled up around the camp crematorium and at the railway station. Those who knew Guardsman best have often quoted him as saying, "My uniform was never truly white again," in reference to that day.
His participation in the liberation of Dachau prevented him from being present at the Battle of Berlin, much to the consternation of his "handlers." Although the Allied forces had agreed to halt their advance on the city in order to give the Soviets a free hand, it's said that General George S. Patton wanted Guardsman -- an American hero -- on hand to personally take Hitler into custody.
In the end, Hitler's Suicide made it a moot point as he robbed his enemies of their final victory by taking his own life.
After the war, Allan returned to Whitby with his new bride Sharon and attempted to return to work in his father's butcher shop but found that working in and around blood all day reminded him too much of his wartime experiences and, much to his father's disappointment, Allan left the family business.
When Sharon was offered a position in the Military Hospital at the Merrimack Naval Station in nearby Vanguard City, the couple relocated there. The Military repeatedly asked Guardsman to re-enlist and become their ultimate weapon to ensure a lasting peace, but Guardsman always refused, taking instead a factory job in the city's industrial sector instead.
And so, for a time, the greatest hero of World War II spent his days on an assembly line and his nights patrolling the city with his beautiful wife, Virago, by his side.
It was during these years that Guardsman and Virago met, befriended, and eventually joined The Super Squad. Once named The Allied Super Squad by the military as they used them on counter-espionage missions during the war, the group changed its name to reflect it's post-war incarnation; absorbing both the members of the original Allied Super Squad and other heroes that had returned from the front lines of the war.
It was during their time with The Super Squad that Guardsman and Virago asked Doctor Occult for help in finding a mystical way to restore Virago's ability to conceive (lost as part of the Virago empowering process). After much research and effort, Doctor Occult managed to do so and, on July 4th, 1949, appropriately on America's Birthday, Virago gave birth to twins: Susan and Gary Lane (named after Allan's brother lost during the war). At last their joy was complete.
Unfortunately, this joy was not to last.
In the summer of 1951, Allan started experiencing pains in his back and sides. At first attributing this to "getting old" and not being able to maintain the super-hero lifestyle any more, Allan ignored these pains until he began vomiting blood.
Allan was admitted to the Merrimack Naval Hospital where he was given the best treatment a grateful government had to offer. Unfortunately, Allan had contracted cancer from the same process that gave him his powers almost a decade before. His body was riddled with inoperable tumors and there was little that the military doctors could do other than to manage his pain.
When the end finally came, the once mighty Guardsman was so medicated on tranquilizers and pain killers that he couldn't even recognize his own wife; reportedly calling her by another woman's name (if hospital rumors are to be believed).
No one ever found out who that other woman was.
As McCarthyism ended the age of the costumed (masked) hero, Guardsman, regarded by the nation as the world's most patriotic super-hero, passed with it.
Allan Lane died surrounded by his family and friends at bedside on May 9th, 1952. Just two days short of his fortieth birthday.
Although his identity was never revealed to the public, two weeks later, President Harry S. Truman declared a day of national mourning for the passing of "America's Greatest Hero".
A symbol though out much of his adult life, the death of Allan Lane, The Guardsman, became a symbol of the passing of a kinder, gentler era and the end of the Golden Age of Heroes in America.