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Gurnee Medal of Honor recipient continues his duty


August 29, 2009

GURNEE -- Vietnam War vet Allen Lynch has never stopped doing his duty since he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1970 by President Nixon.

Lynch, a resident of Gurnee, is frequently called on to speak at Memorial Day ceremonies and other occasions in honor of servicemen and women. He has worked for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, pushing for increased benefits for disabled veterans, as chief of the Veterans Rights Bureau for the Illinois Attorney General's Office, retiring in 2005, and as a volunteer for the Vietnam Veterans of America.

One of a dwindling number, Lynch holds one of just 3,447 of the medals that have been awarded for "gallantry above and beyond the call of duty" since the Civil War -- many of them posthumously. Just 95 medalists are still living, and only 50 of those will attend this year's Congressional Medal of Honor Society convention in Chicago.

The convention begins with an opening ceremony at Soldier Field on Sept. 15, followed by five days of public and private events. Lynch, 63, serves as the society's liaison, and he is co-chair of the Medal of Honor Recipient Patriot Award Dinner to be held Sept. 19 at the Swissotel, Chicago.

The former Army sergeant could not have foreseen the path his life would take after Dec. 15, 1967, the day he rescued three fellow soldiers who were wounded when his unit -- 1st Battalion of the 12th Calvary of the 1st Air Calvary -- walked into an ambush near My An in Binh Dinh Province.

According to his Medal of Honor citation, Sgt. Lynch "dashed across 50 meters of open ground through a withering hail of enemy fire to administer aid." He helped the men to a trench where he fended off further attacks before carrying them to safety.

When his company was forced to withdraw, the citation reads, "Sgt. Lynch remained to aid his comrades at the risk of his life rather than abandon them. Alone, he defended his isolated position for two hours against the advancing enemy. Using only his rifle and a grenade, he stopped them just short of his trench, killing five."

Lynch braved more hostile fire to carry the wounded men to a secure area before rejoining a counter-attack.

Lynch, who could not be reached for comment on Friday, gave an extensive interview to The News-Sun in 1982, shortly after his return from the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. He said that earning the Medal of Honor had allowed him the "fantastic privilege" of associating with recipients from World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

"The tremendous acts of heroism on the part of some of these people, at the risk of their own life, and many of them being killed in the process...gives me a sense of patriotism," Lynch told The News-Sun.

On Sept. 17, President Obama will award the 3,448th Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sgt. Jared Monti, who died in combat in Afghanistan in 2006.