Medal of Honor recipient reflects on what March 25 holiday means to him
In 1967, Allen J. Lynch risked his life in Vietnam to rescue three wounded troopers during a firefight.
Once they were safe, Lynch refused to retreat and defended his position alone for two hours against the advancing enemy. Using only his rifle and a grenade, he stopped enemy soldiers from overtaking his trench and killed five men.
For his actions, Lynch received the Medal of Honor, the country's highest military honor.
March 25 is National Medal of Honor Day, a day to reflect on the service of recipients like Lynch.
Lynch, who lives in Gurnee and recently wrote a book about his life called "Zero to Hero: From Bullied Kid to Warrior," is one of 72 living Medal of Honor recipients, according to the Pritzker Military Museum and Library.
After his military service, Lynch helped fellow veterans by serving as chief of the Illinois attorney general's Veterans Rights Bureau.
The Daily Herald asked Lynch about the day and what it means to him.
Q: How special is the day to you and why?
A: I think Medal of Honor Day is special for a number of reasons. It brings attention to the men and women of the Armed Forces. It's a way of recognizing their courage, sacrifice, and service to our nation. It lets our citizens know that their freedom is not free, someone pays for that every single day. Sadly, there are those that don't seem to understand that one simple concept.
Q: What's the one thing you want to make sure people know about the Medal of Honor?
A: I would like people to know that the Medal of Honor is given for service above and beyond the call of duty and that there are many service members, first responders and citizens who serve this country above and beyond (who) are Never recognized for what they do. We hold the Medal of Honor for all those men and women who have never been recognized for the things they did.
Q: How did you celebrate Medal of Honor Day?
A: don't usually celebrate Medal of Honor Day. I'm usually at an event in which I usually give some remarks. Today, I am home catching up on some writing.
Q: Which president presented you with your medal and what was it like?
A: I was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Nixon in 1970. It was amazing, flew first class to Washington, D.C., shook hands with the president of the United States, and was treated like a king.
Q: How often do you wear the medal and for what occasions?
A: I wear the medal on special occasions such as Medal of Honor Day activities, when I am invited to speak at schools, when I attend veterans conventions and during patriotic events.