December 5, 2015 –
OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill.- On a cold December night at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Chicago in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, a slim, tall 70-year-old Medal of Honor recipient spoke to Soldiers from the 1244th Transportation Company about his military career.
The company honors its Soldiers with a holiday ball where they wear dress blues and listen to guest speakers like Vietnam War veteran Sgt. Allen James Lynch to build morale.
Lynch said about receiving the nation’s highest honor, “I studied military history and knew about the Medal of Honor. Just to be recommended for it was an amazing thing, but to actually receive it, there’s nothing that matches that. There are only 78 living people who have won the Medal of Honor.”
After his company in Vietnam was forced to withdraw, Lynch stayed behind to protect his buddies instead of abandoning them. He ran across 70 meters five times to get wounded Soldiers and take them to a more secure area; a similar situation was in the movie "Forrest Gump."
“There’s tightness in combat arms. I know that they would have done the same for me,” said Lynch.
For his valor, he was flown first class with his wife and parents to meet President Richard Nixon.
“It was an honor because I came from a blue collar family and people in my family don’t meet presidents of the United States, and we were treated like royalty,” said Lynch.
Soldiers and guests of the 1244th TC were so honored by his presence that some took photographs with Lynch with their camera phone.
“We feel there was something special about his presence tonight. He was genuine, and he helped boost the morale of the company,” said Ronald Blasen, chairperson of the Chicago Region Veterans and Military Affairs Advisory Council.
Lynch’s stay was short, but he added that there were two words that they never got when he came back from Vietnam that he recommended people say to veterans, “thank you.”