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updated: 7/2/2014 7:13 PM

Tri-State Tollway overpass in Gurnee named for Medal of Honor recipient

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  • Medal of Honor recipient Allen J. Lynch of Gurnee speaks Wednesday at the dedication of the Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Overpass at Grand Avenue and the Tri-State Tollway in Gurnee.

       Medal of Honor recipient Allen J. Lynch of Gurnee speaks Wednesday at the dedication of the Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Overpass at Grand Avenue and the Tri-State Tollway in Gurnee.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • State Sen. Terry Link and Kristi Lafleur, executive director of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, applaud the sign marking the Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Overpass at Grand Avenue and the Tri-State Tollway in Gurnee. Lynch received the Medal of Honor for acts of valor during the Vietnam War.

       State Sen. Terry Link and Kristi Lafleur, executive director of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, applaud the sign marking the Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Overpass at Grand Avenue and the Tri-State Tollway in Gurnee. Lynch received the Medal of Honor for acts of valor during the Vietnam War.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • The Grand Avenue bridge on the Tri-State Tollway in Gurnee that was dedicated Wednesday as the Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Overpass. Lynch received the Medal of Honor for his acts of valor during the Vietnam War.

       The Grand Avenue bridge on the Tri-State Tollway in Gurnee that was dedicated Wednesday as the Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Overpass. Lynch received the Medal of Honor for his acts of valor during the Vietnam War.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Gurnee bridge dedication

 
By Megan Swindell
mswindell@dailyherald.com

Tri-State Tollway travelers will be reminded for generations to come of the heroic acts of a Gurnee man who received the Medal of Honor.

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority on Wednesday unveiled signs on I-94's north and southbound lanes at Grand Avenue for the newly named Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Overpass.

"Without any reservation, today is a very special day," former State Rep. JoAnn Osmond of Antioch said during a ceremony marking the occasion. "It is a great honor to be able to stand here and recognize Allen for all of his service."

President Richard Nixon formally presented the nation's highest military honor to Lynch in 1967 for his "acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty" in Vietnam.

Lynch risked his life to single-handedly rescue three wounded soldiers under fire.

"I was taken aback by this," he told the crowd of dignitaries and media. "I don't really like being in the limelight."

But if the sign can bring attention to the men and women who serve and keep this country free, Lynch said, he supports what it represents.

"We (as a country) owe a debt that cannot be paid," he said. "This will keep vets and service before the public eye."

He said he hopes the sign would remind passers-by of the sacrifices and service of all military personnel.

Officials said more than 120,000 vehicles pass under the Grand Avenue (Route 132) overpass every day.

"You can tell by the background noise that a lot of people are going to see this," state Sen. Terry Link said as vehicles passed the ceremony just off the tollroad.

Link and Osmond co-sponsored legislation for the honor.

Lynch was also honored for his continued commitment to advocating on behalf of veterans.

His continued support has included work for the Department of Veterans Affairs, service as the chief of the Illinois Attorney General's Veterans Rights Bureau and founding the Allen J. Lynch Medal of Honor Veterans Foundation that aids veterans in continuing the recovery or education process.

"Since our founding, we've easily helped 1,000 people," said John Schwan, secretary/treasurer and co-founder of the organization.

Lynch's wife, Susan, said people tend to zero in on her husband's Medal of Honor, but there's so much more.

"He does a lot of good things -- he has a commitment to the vets, and I'm really proud of him in that way," she said.

Lynch is the only living Medal of Honor recipient in Lake County. He is one of more than 3,400 people who have been awarded the Medal of Honor for acts beyond the call of duty.

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