By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch is the son of a paper mill worker who got out of his working class town by going to West Point. It was at Fort Hood – his first duty station – that he met Sarah Cockerham, a Killeen girl whose father retired a master sergeant, and fell in love. That was 28 years ago.
The couple has been back to Fort Hood many times and returned yet again in July when Lynch took command of III Corps and Fort Hood. He replaced Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, who will replace Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq.
Lynch served as commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, from May 1993 to July 1995; commander of the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team from April 1997 to May 1999; and as the 4th Infantry's assistant division commander for support from June 2001 to July 2002.
He returned on June 2 from 15 months in Iraq leading the 3rd Infantry Division.
Lynch's family, unlike his wife's, doesn't have a family history of military service. His father was drafted in 1945, but didn't serve long. The general described his family as "truly blue collar."
Lynch discovered, with the help of a high school counselor, that military service was a way he could get into college and applied to several military academies. His West Point acceptance letter arrived the day before his letter from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
"The postman really determined my fate," Lynch said on Tuesday.
West Point provided Lynch with a "true culture shock." He was ready to go home when his father encouraged him to stay. It wasn't so much encouragement as a threat of nowhere to sleep if he did leave, Lynch said, joking.
Lynch stayed and graduated in 1977. He only planned on staying in the military for five years, but 30 years later, finds himself leading the largest military post in the United States.
That includes 26,000 soldiers who are currently deployed from Central Texas from units like the 4th Infantry Division; 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment; 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division; 4th Sustainment Brigade; 41st Fires Brigade; 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division; 62nd Engineer Battalion; and Task Force ODIN.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at email@example.com or (254) 501-7547.
For more on Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, his career, his ties to the Fort Hood community and the reason he decided to stay in the Army, read the Aug. 6 Fort Hood Herald.