Peter J. Lynch immigrated to America from Athboy, Ireland, with his mother, Ellen, in 1938 when he was 16 years old. They came to Morris Plains, New Jersey, to locate and reconnect with Peter’s father, Thomas Lynch, who had come here 10 years earlier to find work and support his family back in County Meath.
Peter discovered he had natural mechanical abilities from an early age when he was given a broken- motorbike with a blown engine. He managed to get it running again from spare parts that he walked miles to secure. His success was met with the chagrin of the local constabulary in Kildalkey who sometimes chase the lad about to keep him off the roads. When he and his mom arrived in America Peter landed a job at an auto repair shop in Morris Plains.
Three years later America was at war. Faced with a US Army draft notice, Peter enlisted into the Army Air Corps. He tried to sign up to be in the tank corps, but the recruiter was out to lunch. The Air Corps recruiter grabbed him and convinced him to become a pilot instead. Peter ended up at a flight school in Arizona where he completed his pilot training but then failed to pass his final physical before certification. He was told he was half an inch too short, so the Air Corps assigned him to be a tail gunner in a bomber crew flying the B-24 Liberator. He was disappointed, but this was probably a fateful piece of luck.
Sometimes, on his off days, Peter would watch the other men in his company at work, changing the tires on the B-24s. It was an arduous process involving a team of four to six men with pry bars and sledgehammers to break tire’s seal against the rim and force the tire up over the lip of the rim. It took the men over an hour per tire sometimes. Peter and a buddy of his (sorry, but I don’t remember his name) decided to come up with a better way. They tinkered around in the shop in their free-time until they came up with the world’s first electrically operated tire changer. It was an immediate success and greatly reduced the turn-around time for the U.S. bombers. He was written up in the local Morristown NJ newspaper for this contribution to the war effort, but credit for this invention was otherwise the property of the US government, and he was OK with that.
After Germany surrendered, Peter remained stationed there as part of the occupation forces while awaiting the expected redeployment to Japan. That never came as Japan surrendered soon after.
Peter Lynch survived the war and returned home to Morristown, New Jersey. He took a job at Sears and Robuck as an appliance repairman, married my mother, Nona Taylor, and raised two children on a shoestring budget in Jefferson Township, NJ. He joined the American Legion Post 245 in Jefferson where he proudly served as Commander for several years. He died at the age of 60 in 1982 and had a soldier's funeral.
Today, on this 75 Memorial Day since his discharge from the Army Air Corps and 38th Memorial Days since is passing, I wish to honor him with this brief account the years of his youth that he gave in service to our country. Thank you for your service, Dad.