WWII Veteran Recalls Easter Invasion of Okinawa in Boozman’s ‘Salute to Veterans’ Series

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman released the latest interview in his series recognizing the service and sacrifice of Arkansas veterans. This spotlight highlights the military service of Audie Lynch, a WWII veteran who served in the Navy and participated in the Easter invasion of Okinawa in 1945.

Lynch was born in a farmhouse near Scotland, Arkansas in Van Buren County on May 15, 1925. He was raised on his family’s farm along with five brothers.

After finishing his freshman year at the Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas, Lynch volunteered for the Navy in order to participate in the specialized program he refers to as “little naval academy.”

“It was pretty tough academically. The load was heavier than a normal college student would take. When I was at the teacher’s college, I’d enroll in 17 hours, but in the Navy I was enrolled in always 21,” Lynch recalled.

He spent 16 months in the classroom at Southeast Missouri State Teachers College in Cape Girardeau, Missouri before finishing up four months of coursework on the campus of Notre Dame.

Lynch was assigned to the U.S.S. Charles Carroll, an assault transport used mainly for invasions, in the Pacific fleet. His duties as a commissioned officer included decoding messages and censoring the mail sent by the men aboard the ship.

He said Easter aboard the ship in 1945 was different from other Easters because it was the day of the Okinawa invasion, the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific during WWII.

“We had marines for the Okinawa invasion and we took the marines to the beach. We had to watch out for suicide planes because they were after the transports. Some of them were trying to get through. Luckily none of them did get through to our ship, but they did get through to some other ships,” Lynch said.

Four days after the assault began, Lynch took the famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle ashore. His autographed picture of the journalist is a treasure in his WWII memorabilia.

“I was very proud to get that picture,” Lynch said.

“I’m grateful for the service and sacrifice of Audie Lynch. We are a better country and world thanks to his efforts to defeat tyranny. The memories of his military service are an important part of our history and I am honored to share his stories,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Lynch’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.

Do you know a veteran who you would like Senator Boozman to feature in his ‘Salute to Veterans’ series? Nominate an Arkansas veteran to share their story at[email protected].