The Port Washington Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, #1819 has selected James W. Lynch as grand marshal of this year's Memorial Day parade. Jim Lynch was born in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, NY where he attended St. Michael High School. He continued his studies, attending Niagara University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in political science. His father was a police officer in the New York City Police Department and his mother was a music teacher.
In November 1942 after completing his college work, Lynch joined the military and was assigned to basic training, specializing as a forward flash observer in the 13th Field Artillery, Observation Battalion at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. His first assignment as a basic training instructor was at Fort Bragg where he was assigned to teach recruits in an expanding Observation Battalion. His training duties became more focused on the techniques of amphibious landings and combat expected to take place in the Pacific theater hostilities with Japan. He was shipped to Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii where he trained soldiers in amphibious landings and jungle combat basics. Lynch's battalion put to sea on the William P. Biddle and in October 1943, took part in the 87-day campaign of the invasion of Leyte in the Philippine Islands led by General Douglas MacArthur.
On Easter Sunday 1944, Master Sergeant Lynch's battalion took part in the invasion of the Japanese homeland island of Okinawa where United States forces landed on the island in an area unanticipated by the Japanese and behind their fortifications. After securing the island, a number of captured Japanese soldiers were billeted in a large Quonset hut and treated well by their American captors. The generosity and civility of the American forces were so appreciated by the Japanese that they agreed to a program to return to the battlefield and convince other Japanese still holding out to surrender. Two groups consisting of two officers and 20 men were released, returned to some still-held Japanese positions and tried to persuade their comrades to surrender. While some did and some didn't, the majority of the prisoners who participated in this program returned to the American base.
While on Okinawa, Lynch learned by word-of-mouth of the dropping of the atomic bombs and eventual surrender of Japan. On Christmas Eve 1945, Lynch boarded the aircraft carrier, Suwanee, was transported back to Fort Lewis, Washington and on to Fort Dix, NJ, where he was discharged in January 1946. During his army career he garnered the American Campaign Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic Pacific Medal with two battle stars and two arrowheads (invasions), New York State Conspicuous Service Medal and Philippine Government Liberation Medal.
On his return to Brooklyn, he decided to continue his studies and was accepted at Fordham Law School. He worked his way through law school and became a part-time clerk in a firm specializing in admiralty law. Upon graduation, he accepted a position as associate attorney with the firm of Burlingham, Hupper and Kennedy where he was to work the next 50 years. This firm also specialized in Admiralty law and over the years, handled such newsworthy events as the sinking of the Titanic, Andrea Doria and Morro Castle. He continues to practice law to this day with his son, Jay in the law firm of Lynch and Lynch, in Mineola,
In June 1947, Jim married his wife Kay with whom he has shared the last 60 years. In 1954 the family moved to the North Salem section of Port and in 1963 settled in Beacon Hill. Jim and Kay are the parents of five children, 15 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. The gracious couple's children are accomplished professionals and include two teachers, two nurses and a lawyer.
Jim is a member of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Port Washington and has served as a past commander of the Catholic War Veterans. Jim is a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus, a past president of the Holy Name Society of St. Peter's Parish, was instrumental in the building of St. Peter's convent and new school and is presently head of the Lectors. Kay is a Eucharistic minister at St. Francis Hospital and at St. Peter's. She is also active in the Guild of St. Francis Hospital and St. Peter's Liturgy Committee. When asked to comment on their many years in Port Washington both spontaneously said, "We love our community and could not have picked a better place to call home."
The annual Memorial Day parade is scheduled for Monday, May 26, stepping off from Campus Drive, down Main Street and ending at the Sousa Band Shell.