Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, July 22

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/22/2011 #

In Today's Notes: Chicago-born Medal of Honor Recipient at Arlington Park Saturday; Illinois-raised Medal of Honor Recipient Baker Returning Saturday; First Living Medal of Honor Recipient Since Vietnam Attending

Allen James Lynch, a former United States Army soldier born in Chicago in 1945 and now a resident of Gurnee, Illinois, will be one of more than 30 Medal of Honor recipients present at Arlington Park Saturday for Arlington's Military Appreciation Day – an afternoon designed in tribute to the men and women of all of the United States military branches and their families.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government and is bestowed by the President of the United States in the name of Congress on members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry at the risk of life and above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States."

During a firefight on Dec. 15, 1967, while serving as a specialist four in the Republic of Vietnam, Lynch dashed across 50 meters of open ground through intense enemy fire three times to carry the three wounded men to a covered position. When his company was forced to withdraw because of the superior firepower of the enemy, Lynch stayed behind to protect the wounded men. Alone he defended the isolated position for two hours against enemy attack. Then he crossed 70 meters of exposed terrain five times to carry his wounded comrades to a more secure area until locating a friendly force which could evacuate them.

Lynch was subsequently promoted to sergeant and awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. The medal was formerly presented to him by President Richard Nixon in 1970.

After the war, Lynch worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs where he advocated increased benefits for disabled veterans, and later served as chief of the Illinois Attorney General's Veteran Rights Bureau until his retirement in 2005.

John F. Baker Jr., raised in Moline, Illinois, may be the only Medal of Honor recipient to have a bridge named after him. The Interstate 280 bridge connecting Davenport, Iowa to Rock Island, Illinois, was renamed the Baker Bridge last year, and Baker, who was born in Davenport, will be one of a large gathering of Medal of Honor recipients present at Arlington Park Saturday for the Chicago oval's designated Military Appreciation Day.

Other features of Arlington's Military Appreciation Day include a dramatic demonstration by the Black Daggers and the 101st Airborne Division's Screaming Eagles parachute team.

Baker's Medal of Honor citation credits him with "selfless heroism, indomitable fighting spirit and extraordinary gallantry" while saving the lives of fellow soldiers while his company was under intense enemy fire in Vietnam on Nov. 5, 1966.

When Baker was awarded his citation in ceremonies in the East Room of the White House, President Lyndon Johnson said: "The battlefield is the scarred and the lonely landscape of man's greatest failure, but it is a place where heroes walk."

Former NFL star running back and Vietnam vet Rocky Bleier was the keynote speaker during the ceremonies dedicating the Baker Bridge. At the present time, Baker is recognized as the only Medal of Honor recipient from the Quad-Cities.

Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta is the first living person to receive the Medal of Honor, the United States Armed Forces' highest decoration for valor, for actions that occurred since the Vietnam War.

Born in Clinton, Iowa, immediately across the Mississippi River from East Clinton, Illinois, Giuinta will be in attendance at Arlington Park Saturday for Arlington's designated Military Appreciation Day in a designed tribute for the men and women of all branches of the United States military.

The afternoon will also feature a National Anthem performance by the 85th Army Band, the Marine Air Control Group 48 Color Guard, renowned tenor Steve Amerson of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and Society, and the Shannon Rovers bagpipe band.

Giunta received his Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House on Nov. 16, 2010, for saving the lives of members of his squad on Oct. 25, 2007, during the War in Afghanistan.

When he found out he was going to be recommended for the Medal of Honor, Giunta said, "If I'm a hero, every man that stands around me, every woman in the military, everyone who goes into the unknown is a hero.

"I did what I did because in the scheme of painting the picture of that ambush, that was just my brush stroke. That's not above and beyond. I didn't take the biggest brush stroke, and it wasn't the most important brush stroke....Everybody did something."