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Family Matters: Relatives at War

The Lynch Family

Thomas John Lynch left his family to join the Navy in June 1943—almost exactly two months after his son, Michael, was born. An officer with a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion—the “Seabees”—Thomas departed for the Pacific Theater in mid-December 1943, and was stationed primarily in New Guinea. In his letters to his wife, Helen, he detailed the deprivation and shortages his unit faced, and the frustrations of installing military facilities in the jungle terrain amidst constant rain and mud. Tragically, though John survived the war, he died in 1949. 25 years later, Michael chose to follow in his father’s footsteps by becoming an officer in the Seabees. He served two tours in Vietnam, deploying there in 1968 and 1969. His letters home are reminiscent of his father’s—both generations of Lynch men sought to reassure Helen of their relative safety, though both underscored the struggles of life in a war zone, particularly in the tropics.

Image of Thomas John Lynch, II

"I hope my boys will forgive me for going away and leaving them and be proud of me for what I have done." (Letter to Helen, 6/8/1944)

Thomas John Lynch II's story

Michael W. Lynch's story

"I realize it does little good to tell you not to worry." (Letter to Mom, 6/9/1968)

Michael W. Lynch's story