Published On: April 29th, 2019|655 words|2.3 min read|
Veteran Story graphic by Kimber Garland.
A resident of Gurnee, Illinois, Allen Lynch has devoted his life to the service as both a member of the military and private citizen. Since joining the Army as a teenager in 1964, his actions have made the lives of his fellow Veterans better.
Lynch was an infantryman who served in Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. He served in varying capacities at different locations around the United States and abroad upon enlisting. His actions on Dec. 15, 1967, six months into his first trip to Vietnam, solidified his legacy in American history.
On this day, Lynch’s unit was ambushed by the North Vietnamese military near the village of My An. According to the citation, three men were wounded. Lynch stayed behind as his unit pulled out to render aid and protect his fellow soldiers. As the enemy moved in, Lynch engaged in an intense firefight, killing numerous enemy combatants while fighting in a ditch, receiving help from air units as well. After over three hours, he was finally able to pull the injured soldiers to safety.
After the incident, Lynch’s unit was pulled out of the field. There was talk he was up for a Medal of Honor, but he largely brushed this off and continued about his military service. However, the day before his wedding in spring 1970, Lynch was informed he would receive the Medal of Honor for his actions in December 1967. Later that year, Lynch was invited to the White House where President Richard Nixon presented him with the highest military honor. Reflecting on the day, Lynch was humbled that a boy from a blue-collar family in northwest Indiana would receive such a high honor.
After his formal years of military service, Lynch continued serving in a reserve role with the Illinois National Guard. Even as a civilian, Lynch did not stop serving his fellow Veterans. He continued working as an advocate for benefits for Vietnam service members and worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lynch also served as the chief of the Illinois Attorney General’s Veterans Rights Bureau for 20 years. He recently published his own book titled “Zero to Hero” which recounts his life moving from a young Midwest boy to a recipient of the highest military honor.
Upon his retirement, friends encouraged Lynch to continue his service. He founded the Allen J. Lynch Foundation which supports fellow Veterans who need financial assistance and help moving their lives forward after the military. The foundation raises money throughout Illinois and helps over 100,000 Veterans each year. Lynch said he was inspired to do this work based upon his own memories of what life was like after the military.
In addition to financial assistance, the foundation sends care packages overseas and works with Gold Star families. Through the Operation Support Our Troops’ Leap of Faith program, Lynch has helped the families of service members feel freedom once again by giving them the opportunity to jump out of an airplane with the Golden Knights.
Though many years have passed since his time in Vietnam, Lynch continues to be the ultimate warrior by serving in any capacity he can. Whether it’s under fire in Vietnam or serving with Veterans’ advocacy groups and nonprofits, Lynch exemplifies what it means to serve and protect.
“a new publication from the Museum & Library features the life lessons from Medal of Honor recipient Al Lynch. The memoir tells the inspiring story that takes him from bullies on the playground in 1950s Illinois, to the enemy on the battlefield in Vietnam, to the demons of PTSD he’s battled ever since.”