Lancaster, born at McFarland Hospital, graduated Lebanon High School in 1965 and attended Cumberland University until he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
While serving in the Army, Lancaster served as a Specialist 4 in the First Infantry Divisions, 2nd Battalion 28th Infantry Company H and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Campaign Medal and Purple Heart.
Lancaster died Oct. 17, 1967 while in Vietnam and was returned to the country and honored with a military service and laid to rest in the Wilson County Memorial Gardens.
Monday, a plaque in his memory was placed at the bridge on Highway 70 spanning Spencer Creek at 4090 Lebanon Road.
“Every young man who graduated in ’65, ’66 and up had to decide what they were going to do in Vietnam. You had to make that decision. I joined. Some others joined. Many were drafted like Jerry,” said Bernie Ash, Wilson County Veterans Service director. “Jerry had a reputation at Lebanon High School – he was one of the good guys. He was a very nice person and friendly to all. I hated to see him go. To his family, thank you for your sacrifice. We miss him very much.”
Wilson County Commissioner Sue Vanatta said the county’s negligence in honoring Lancaster was brought to her attention last year, which prompted her to push for a Wilson County Commission resolution and dedication.
“When I graduated from high school, our football captain was the first person from Jackson County killed in Vietnam. It holds a place in my heart,” she said.
Lancaster, son of Thomas and Mae Ligon, was survived by two brothers, Thomas, who served in the U.S. Air Force, and Arnold.