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Hundreds Pay Last Respects to a Local Hero

July 1, 2004 – Mothers, grandmothers, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the delegate to Congress, a representative of the U.S. Attorney's Office, generals, privates, sergeants, colleagues and friends paid tribute Thursday morning to the territory's second son lost in the current hostilities in Iraq.
More than a hundred people signed the guest book at Jason Lynch's viewing at Government House in Christiansted. A local National Guard unit punctuated the event with solemn changings of the guard. His mother, Paula Pemberton Lynch, was overwhelmed with emotion, shedding tears during most of the hour.
After the viewing, the procession made its way to St. John's Anglican Church, where about 200 more people awaited the casket's arrival.
The eulogy was delivered by Sgt. 1st Class Wallace Babb, the Army recruiter on St. Croix. Babb said he had gotten to know Lynch well. He said Lynch got along with everyone and had a special sense of humor. And he said Lynch's actions showed "personal courage and selfless sacrifice."
The Army presented Lynch's mother with three medals awarded her son — the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Good Conduct Medal.
Pfc. Lynch was killed by enemy fire in Iraq on June 18.
Army Staff Sgt. Kendall Thomas, a St. Thomas native, was the first casualty from the Virgin Islands in the present Iraq conflict; he was killed in a motor vehicle accident on April 28. Earlier that month, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Shane Goldman died of injuries from hostile fire while serving his second tour of duty in Iraq; he was the son of George Goldman, who lives on St. Croix.
The Rev. Wilfred A. Daniel in his homily said it was "puzzling and mysterious" that some of the people whom soldiers like Lynch were rescuing would turn and kill their rescuers.
The funeral booklet included a letter to Jason from his sister Julie Lynch and his nieces Kaylah and Kaedah Browne and a poem by his brother Jamil Green. Julie wrote to her younger brother: "I remember all those times I would protect you from getting licks, but I couldn't on June 18, 2004."
Officials contributing letters of condolences to the program were Gov. Charles Turnbull, Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, Delegate Donna M. Christensen, Senate President David Jones, Sens. Lorraine Berry and Shawn-Michael Malone, and Police Chief Novelle Francis Jr.
There was also a letter from Donna Jones Athill, Lynch's fourth grade teacher. She wrote: "I was privileged to have taught you in the 4th grade, and what a perfect gentleman you were, working quietly and being very creative. Such great potential was cut short."
Lynch had been employed at the Sunny Isle Kmart before joining the Army 11 months ago. His co-workers there spoke on Thursday of his diligence and dedication then presented his mother with a photograph of all the staff.
Paula Lynch was scheduled to give her own tribute at the end of the service but, overcome with emotion, was unable to do so.

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