I liked this week’s Veterans Spotlight feature, right from the outset. “You don’t have a hair band, by any chance, do you?” he asked with a grin. I laughed at the fine attempt at follically challenged humor. John William Lynch III served his country in The United States Marine Corps from 2005 to 2013 and was medically retired as a sergeant after also serving in two deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sgt. Lynch enlisted right after graduating from Mashpee High School. He was sent to boot camp at Parris Island and recalled it as a “culture shock. The Marines break you down and have a methodical way of doing it,” he remembered.
Sgt. Lynch recalled the conditions in both Iraq and Afghanistan as “completely deplorable” as environmental protection laws were non-existent. “The raw sewerage, the garbage, the burn pits, it was disgusting” he said. Sgt. Lynch was on constant patrol both night and day and saw a tremendous amount of combat during his two deployments. In Iraq, during fighting he was hit by an IED and dodged death. “We were on an end of night patrol and were out two hours longer than we should have been. I don’t remember much after I was hit. I checked to see if I still had all my limbs. It sounded like I just left a rock concert. My mentor and good friend Joe Lee screamed at me that I wasn’t General Patton and I should keep my god damn head down” he remembered.
He continued, “the doctor told me that I could go home but I begged him to stay. I was an important part of my platoon (a machine gunner) I felt strongly that I didn’t fulfill all of my service and didn’t want to abandon my fellow Marines.” The doctor obliged. (Sgt. Lynch was awarded the Purple Heart for bravery and preferred to leave it at that). He deflected any praise to his mentor. “Joe Lee was special. This man should be cloned for the betterment of America. He saved my life twice… still works in Special Forces. That man is unbelievable” he said with great admiration.
I asked Sgt. Lynch about entertainment during his deployments and he offered this: “We had nothing. Communication in a war zone is entirely different. We would boil water, eat soup, talk amongst ourselves. Try to keep up on the latest gossip at home. You always had to be at the ready, especially where we were. You can never be complacent. Complacency kills” he said. He remembered being away for the holidays as “not bothering him much. Even if you’re at each other’s throats, you know that you and your platoon are sharing the same loneliness and suffering and that brings you closer during tough times.”
Sgt. Lynch shared an immensely powerful memory about running into a friend after he was injured. They had become friends at the School of Infantry. His friend was bandaged up like a zombie. While on patrol, his platoon was hit by a sniper. The friend was bleeding from the head as he was dragged into a courtyard by a corpsman. They took off his helmet and found a cut above his right eye. The sniper had shot him on the plate that mounted his night vision goggles, and deflected the bullet’s trajectory about 45 degrees to the right, causing it to pass through the helmet and out the other side, miraculously missing his head.
Sgt. Lynch holds a degree in photography and a minor in print making. He brought along with him his book titled “Reflections.” A compilation of personal pictures from his life and military service and stories. Having the honor to look at the book, I can attest to the fact that it is extremely powerful. He has also become involved in art therapy. “It has really changed my life. I cannot say enough about it” he said.
Unequivocally the biggest part of Sgt. Lynch’s life is his son Rowan. At 5½ years old the young child has had to endure three open-heart surgeries. “Boston Children’s Hospital is the only reason he’s around” he said. I asked him to sum up his service and he offered this: “I was just a normal kid in an abnormal situation. Being in military combat ages you quickly. The Marines have a tight bond. If I had to do it all over again, I would.”
Sgt. John William Lynch III, thank you for your service to our great country.
Contact Wayne Soares at email@example.com