Alumnus Killed in Iraq

January 31, 2005

Matthew D. Lynch '01, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, was killed October 31 by a roadside bomb in Ramadi, a Sunni Muslim area west of Baghdad, Iraq.

Lynch, who was with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, California, was serving his third tour of duty in Iraq. He was one of the first Americans deployed to Iraq after President Bush sent troops there in March 2003.

Lynch returned to Camp Pendleton in August, but was sent back to Iraq the following March with a different battalion, to fill in for officers who had been evacuated because of injuries. He returned to the U.S. in July and volunteered to go to battle for a third time when his original battalion was scheduled to redeploy in Iraq.

Lynch did not have to go back for a third time, but as his brother, Tim Lynch, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, told the New York Daily News, "It's hard to understand if you're not in the military. When it's people you look at as your brothers, it's a pretty easy decision to go back there."

At Duke, Lynch was recruited as a member of the swimming and diving team, competing his freshman, sophomore, and senior years. As a freshman, he owned the best time among Duke swimmers in the 200-meter freestyle, also posting the second-best time in the 100-meter freestyle. At the ACC championships, he had the team's best performance in the 200-meter individual medley.

As a sophomore, he held season time records in the 200-meter freestyle and 200-meter individual medley and was part of the 200- and 400-meter freestyle relay teams that held Duke season time records. After returning to the swim team his senior year, he came just twenty-two hundredths of a second from setting the school record in the 200-meter individual medley and was also the anchor for the 400- and 800-meter freestyle relay teams.

"When you're in the swimming program for years, it becomes your family. They become like your kids," Duke head swim coach Bob Thompson told The Chronicle. "It's heartbreaking--this has just rocked our world. He would have been team captain if he had been there his junior year. He was one of our key guys. He was out there every day, so committed. He was kind of the perfect kid. I'm sure he was a damn good Marine."

Lynch also played baseball his sophomore and junior years. Regarded as one of baseball head coach Bill Hillier's favorite players and one of the hardest working on the team, Lynch played in ten games and started two in 1999, finishing with three hits and two RBIs while hitting .273 as a back-up catcher. In 2000, Lynch played in thirty games for the Blue Devils, starting thirteen and amassing thirteen hits and seven RBIs and a .217 batting average.

Lynch enlisted in the Marines shortly after graduating from Duke. He completed officer training in December 2002 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.