Transylvanians have always answered the call when military service is required. One such young man who served his country was Reginald Wayne Lynch. Reggie, as he was known to friends, was born on March 12, 1947 and grew up in Brevard in a household that included his grandparents, mother Evon Lynch Kelley, stepfather Millard “Slim” Kelley, and his brother and sisters. He was a Boy Scout, rising to the rank of Junior Scout Master by his freshman year of high school. He was a carrier for the Transylvania Times from the age of 12 until high school, when his involvement in football took precedence. Lynch was a middle guard for the first integrated high school football team beginning in his junior year, earning the honor of All-Conference player his senior year, as well as the “Mr. Guts” trophy from Coach Cliff Brookshire at the annual Olin Football Banquet that was held to honor Transylvania’s high school players. He was also very active in the Bethel Baptist Church community.
After graduation from Brevard High School in 1965, Lynch began employment at Olin to save money for college before he was drafted into the Army via the Selective Service program. He began his tour in Vietnam on November 24, 1966 and would have been assigned to his unit while it was in the midst of Operation Paul Revere IV located in the Central Highlands region between Pleiku and the Cambodian border. By the time he arrived, the operation was winding down and his battalion was serving as the brigade’s reserve reaction force, conducting local patrols and security missions. As an Infantry Indirect Fire Crewman he would most likely have been assigned to the Mortar Platoon. His unit was part of Operation Thayer II in the Suoi Ca and Vinh Thanh Valleys in the Binh Dinh province (South Central Coast region).
Lynch’s death was an unfortunate accident due to the misfire of his own weapon during a routine patrol. He died on January 20, 1967 and is honored on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington D.C. at the VVM Wall, Panel 14e, Line 57. He received numerous commendations including the Combat Infantryman Badge, Marksmanship Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Army Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Gallantry Cross, and Army Good Conduct Medal. His sacrifice is a testament to the patriotism and dedication of this remarkable man. He was laid to rest in Cooper’s Cemetery in Transylvania County. Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Local History Librarian Laura Sperry Gardner. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820.