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in: Podcast

April 22, 2019 Last updated: May 2, 2019

Podcast #501: Zero to Hero: From Bullied Kid to Medal of Honor Recipient

As a boy, Allen J. Lynch was a severely bullied and aimless kid growing up in the industrial neighborhoods of Chicago’s South Side. He went on to serve in the Army, receive the Medal of Honor for the valor he displayed when he rushed to save three fallen comrades during a deadly firefight in Vietnam, and dedicate his life to helping his fellow veterans.

Today I talk to Allen about his story, which he shares in his recently published memoir: Zero to Hero: From Bullied Kid to Warrior. We begin our conversation discussing his childhood, when the bullying started, and how it affected his youth. Allen then shares the aimlessness he had as a high school graduate and how he carried it with him after he signed up for the Army, and at first struggled to adapt to military life. We then discuss how Allen ended up in Vietnam, the best friend he lost there, and the harrowing scenario that earned him a Medal of Honor citation. Allen then shares how receiving the Medal of Honor put him on a path of service in helping fellow veterans heal from the wounds of war. We end our conversation with a poignant discussion of Allen’s own battle with PTSD and how his motto of “others not self” has helped him deal with it.

Show Highlights

  • Allen’s post-WWII childhood, and why it was a magical time to be a young boy 
  • The influence of Allen’s father 
  • When Allen started getting bullied 
  • How his parents reacted to the bullying 
  • Why Allen enlisted in the Army, and how he ended up a “zero” there 
  • Why he then volunteered for Vietnam 
  • The story of Allen’s best friend Jerry 
  • The moment where Allen decided to go from zero to hero
  • On his receiving the Medal of Honor for what he did 
  • How Allen then went to work “earning” that Medal of Honor 
  • Allen’s personal experience with PTSD 
  • The story of Allen’s mantra “Others Not Self” 

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