MEETING FATHER KENNY LYNCH IN COMBAT 1944
The hedgerow branches parted and an an Army Officer came through. He had a white collar, and I knew this must be an Army Chaplin. He spoke and petted a kiddy cat sitting on an old
picnic table in an apple orchard and said he was Father Lynch.. It was July 1944 in France. He asked me about the wounded and I told him to follow me. We edged our way across the field listing for more incoming shells. We got up to the medics working on a man on the ground. It was a good friend of mine in the gun section, Charles Lewindoske later changed his name to Charles Lane after the war.. When I saw his guts hanging out I turned around and ran back across the field.
When Father Lynch came back across the field, he came by and said Chuck would make it. He sat down and petted the cat some more. When He got up to leave I asked him if he would like to have the cat. He said He would if I was willing to part with it. He took the cat in his arms and went back through the hedge row.
The cat had used up one of his nine lives as He took up with me the day before. I had put him in our Recon Officer's bed roll that night. My sense of humor. was not the same today. One hour earlier I had been in a house at the end of the field across the road. I found a bottle of tonic and rubbed some on my hair and came out of the with a piece of alligator leather. As I came I came into the field I heard the screaming noise and looked up to see one of our planes diving at me and releasing a bomb from under the fuselage. I turned right and leaped and dove almost 20 feet. The bomb was a dud and after missing me had skidded into the house across the road I had just came out of, making a big hole in it and knocking a part of it down. My buddy Pareanto had seen my close call. I showed him the tonic and my hair. He took the bottle and tossed it. Some day I will teach you to read French and you won't put furniture polish on your hair. I asked him not to mention it to any of the guys and he just grinned.
Then the big shells started coming, landing mostly in the apple trees. One of our guys jumped up and said he was hit. But it was only an apple that fell on him. I had a few of them apple hits also and after seeing Chuck with his red guts and the near miss I told my buddy I was ready to go home. Go tell the Lieutenant he said. Next day I went out again and came back with six eggs. My French was Improving. I gave Appletom three of them for sewing the alligator leather on the top of my shoes. I was the only guy who had alligator combat boots as for as I know. It had been a couple rough days but only a sample of what was to come.
Many years later I attended a reunion and I met Father Lynch. I asked him he if he remembered the day I gave him the cat. He said that he did and he had kept the cat with him until the end of the war when he was transferred. So each time we met I was known as the guy who gave him the cat.
He always closed our banquet singing UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN. He was such an inspiration to everyone. When I was President in 1998 and found out he was too ill to attend, I managed to get a tape made from a video recording, and played it at the end. He will live in our hearts forever.
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