Staff Sergeant Robert Lee Lynch
– Company B, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division –
Robert Lee Lynch, “Bob”, was born on October 10th, 1925 to parents John and Julia (O’Connor) Lynch in the small farming town of Conception, Missouri. He was the fourth of 11 children. He worked hard earning money by harvesting crops or as clerk at the hardware store which he then gave to his Mother to help support them.
In his senior year he was drafted to serve in World War II. Before he reported for duty, he married Eva Mae Keever on January 12th, 1944 in Maryville, MO.
Bob left for Europe in November 1944 and then his daughter, Joyce Elaine was born.
Assigned to Company B, 60th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division, then Private First Class Lynch fought in the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge and helped capture the Remagen Bridge. He also met Soviet patrols at the Elbe prior to the invasion of Berlin.
Promoted to Staff Sergeant, Bob Lynch earned three Bronze Stars, the Belgium Fourragere and the Presidential Unit Citation.
After the war.
It wasn’t until January 1946 that Bob was home and got to meet his daughter Joyce for the first time. After a few years in CO he bought a small dump truck and drove to Vista in 1953. Using his ingenuity and “can do” attitude he built his new trucking business, with his wife by his side, hauling material all over three counties. In his opinion, no job was too small. Many local organizations benefited from his generosity. You could always find him in his green service truck or on the loader, never afraid to roll up his sleeves and get dirty. He always got the job done, no matter what. A true Irishman he always had time to “shoot the breeze.” He mentored many, and treated his truck drivers like family.
Lynch Trucking’s green fleet moved to what is now Business Park in the 1970’s when it was just beginning . He excavated the hills to make way for VID and other buildings. Some land was exchanged for income properties to provide for future generations and prepare for retirement. It was a true family business, where generations learned from “Pa” as he was lovingly referred to. His example gave each family member a road map for a successful life.
Reunited with jacket
In 2012 I found a 9th Infantry Division 4 pocket World War 2 jacket on Ebay, and the name of the veteran it belonged to looked familiar. After some research it turned out to be the jacket that belonged to Bob! I contacted his daughter, and told them about the jacket. After receiving the jacket I kept in touch with the family to make sure we all had a clear understanding of all the insignia’s, medals and pins, where to place them, and then the family had a surprise in store for Bob.
On a Sunday afternoon in December 2012, Bob’s 19 years old great grandson David wore a complete uniform with the jacket, and walked into the livingroom while the rest of the family was there as well. Some war stories were being told, and then Bob’s family asked to try on the jacket. It fitted perfectly!
Then, after some more stories, they asked Bob to read the name that was written inside the jacket out loud. He slowly read his name, in a dead silent room.
Not really understanding what was going on, his granddaughter Michelle explained Bob that after all these years they found his jacket, the same jacket he wore nearly 70 years earlier!
It was a very emotional day for everyone, and the local paper the Union Tribune came wrote an article about it as well, which can be read here:
“Jacket brings back memories for WWII vet” – By Lyndsay Winkley
17 December 2012 – The San Diego Union Tribune
Vista -The last time World War II veteran Robert L. Lynch had worn this particular military jacket, he was an active duty soldier in Europe.
Lynch was reunited with it on Saturday after almost 70 years. In a series of serendipitous events, Lynch’s granddaughter, Michelle Kennington, was contacted by a man from the Netherlands, Yuri Beckers.
“He was writing a history book about my grandfather’s division, the 9th Division,” said Kennington, a Vista resident. “We were shocked when he told us our grandfather’s jacket was up on eBay.”
Kennington and several family members decided to take a look. Sure enough, her grandfather’s signature was on the inside sleeve. “It felt like it was meant to be,” she said. They bought the jacket and an accompanying shirt and hat. In an unofficial ceremony, Lynch’s great grandson donned the uniform, eventually presenting the jacket to his 87-year-old great grandfather. At 19 years old, he was the same age Lynch had been when he wore that same jacket during the war.
“We had him (Lynch) read the name on the inside sleeve,” Kennington explained. “Slowly, he said Robert. L. Lynch. But how is that possible?”
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Lynch, a Vista resident. Kennington said the jacket is so much more than a piece of clothing. It represents an effort to continue recognizing the sacrifice veterans made for our country, particularly her grandfather’s sacrifice. “We wanted to do it to honor our grandfather,” she said. “For so long we didn’t know anything about this because he didn’t tell us.”
On the left side of Lynch’s military jacket, positioned over the heart, is a series of awards pinned in the horizontal fashion of military honors. It is a snapshot of a distinguished military career containing prestigious awards including three Bronze Stars and the Presidential Unit Citation.
Lynch served from November 1944 to December 1945 as part of Company B, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. During that time, he fought in several famous battles, including the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Remagen. He was field promoted to Staff Sergeant and Lynch’s regiment held the line near the Harz Mountains in Germany until Victory in Europe Day.
Lynch said for years he couldn’t talk about his experience.“It took me years to get over it,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be talking about it. I went through too much, too close, too many times. But I was lucky.”
Lynch was thrust into the war at 19. He was drafted out of high school. His brother picked up his diploma for him because by the time graduation rolled round, Lynch was already in uniform. His first moments on the battlefield set the tone for the duration of his service, he said. A man had been hit by shrapnel and needed a medic. Lynch went to help. When they arrived, the lower half of the soldier’s face had been blown to pieces.
“He kept saying ‘shoot me, shoot me, shoot me,’” Lynch said. “That was the way it was any place, in every place, over there. That was the first of the war for me.” While many of his wartime memories are distressing, Lynch said being reunited with his own piece of history was something special.
Bob enjoyed Sunday dinners, lunch dates, and drives with his sweetheart, Eva Mae. In fact, one week before his passing, they celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary. He supported every grandchild in their school, sports, and dance events.
Staff Sergeant Bob Lynch passed away on January 19th, 2015, reaching the age of 89 years.
Bob is missed greatly by his whole family, truck drivers, business associates, the community, and his many friends.
Personally, it has been very special to have been a part of getting the military jacket back to Bob after all these years, and I often look at the picture. The smile says more than words. Bob has a very special place in my heart, and I will never forget what he has done to liberate my grandparents from the German Occupation, resulting in the freedom I can enjoy today. We will never forget him.