On August 8, 2008, Grayston L. Lynch passed away. To say he epitomized an American hero would be an understatement. He joined the Army at the tender age of 15, fought in WWII, Korea and Laos. He was awarded three Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars, the Bronze Star with V for Valor and the Central Intelligence Agency's Intelligence Star for bravery above and beyond the call of duty.
At his memorial service held at MacDill Air Force Base on August 30, 2008 those who knew, worked, or served with him paid homage to him. I would like to share one of those eulogies with you.
Rudy Enders had a distinguished career with the military and with the CIA. An associate of Gray's at the CIA, he honors Gray with his eulogy, but in doing so honors all those CIA Intelligence Officers who put their life on the line every day to see that this country remains safe and that it remains the land of the free. Our first line of defense in a dangerous world, most all are unsung heroes, who go about their business under the most dangerous circumstances, few to ever get the recognition it was Gray's fate to achieve.
I want to thank Rudy and all those at the CIA for doing the tremendous job they do for all Americans and this world we share.
Rudy Enders - Remarks
Grayston Lynch Services - August 30, 2008
I find it an honor to say a few words of recognition about my fellow CIA Case Officer and recognized hero, Grayston Lynch.
He was one of the finest warriors from what we now call, "The Greatest Generation," a generation which today is rapidly fading away.
Gray's performance epitomized the best attributes of the American fighting man; honor, courage, dedication, selflessness, competence, loyalty, compassion, and duty to one's country. It's this ethic that has enabled our nation to defeat some of the most evil despots known to humankind.
Gray fought the Nazi war machine across Europe unit he was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge -- a wound that kept him hospitalized for five years -- and plagued him for the rest of his life.
Unlike most WW-II soldiers who turned in their swords after the Great War, Gray kept his and remained on active duty. He could see the dark clouds of communism gathering on the horizon, and considered it another form of domination and oppression, equally as evil and threatening as the Axis powers he helped conqueror.
After serving in Korea, he attended one of the original special operations classes, graduating alongside such warriors as David Grange Jr., then a captain, and later a notable three star general, Lucien Conein, formerly a member of the French Foreign Legion, the Office of Strategic Services, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Drug Enforcement Agency; and Stan Olchovik, later commander of the Berlin Brigade and head of a clandestine team which entered Iran during the hostage rescue crisis and a host of other famous special operators.
It's no wonder Gray was selected by the CIA to be one of only two Americans to assist the brave Cuban Brigade at the Bay of Pigs.
We all know this story, especially those that languished in Castro's prisons after the ill-fated disaster. The eye tooth of the invasion plan was extracted when the Kennedy administration cancelled the promised and critically needed air support, thereby leading to assured failure.
It was a decision an honorable soldier like Gray could never accept. The Brigade was let down -- betrayed --by the very people that sent them into battle - not only were the Cubans, but Gray himself and fellow officer Rip Robertson. After this horrific catastrophe, a flicker of hope emerged when Gray and Rip were again called upon to help spark a flame of resistance within Cuba. It is then that he recruited and trained an elite commando force (Command Mambises) where many of you served.
It is during this period when case officers like me, Mickey Kappes, Bob Stevens and others had the privilege of working alongside Gray and the brave, freedom loving commando teams. We too believed these efforts would eventually lead to a free Cuba.
Besides having great respect and admiration for our fine Cuban friends -- dedicated as they were to the cause -- we were granted the rare privilege -- first hand -- to see how really special Gray and Rip were.
They demonstrated leadership qualities that elevated them to "role model" status for every subsequent agency paramilitary officer.
When our government decided to shut down even this program, I can assure you we were as heartbroken as the wonderful men we served. It's a scar that will never disappear. It is why Gray dedicated his life to tell the truth concerning this covert agency program.
There is a reason why there's a saying -- "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." It's because Gray is alive in our memories. They will only fade away with our passing.
Gray now lives in another world, a world of peace and tranquility, a world that he deserves.
I would like to end by thanking his loving wife, Karen, who nursed him through his "not so golden years," and helped him author the only authentic account of the fateful Bay of Pigs invasion.
I also want to thank all of you who knew this man, one of the last of a breed of great American freedom fighters -- for coming here today.
History demands that we, along with freedom fighters everywhere, pay our respects and say goodbye to one of America's finest unsung warriors.
Thank you and God bless.
Pic Credit: The Tampa Tribune