Woman wants service error on father's gravestone fixed

The gravestone of Michael W. Lynch Jr. in Connecticut.

By JESSE LEAVENWORTH | The Hartford Courant | Published: December 29, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — Karen Petrella says she has had little rest since burying her father almost 20 months ago.

Michael W. Lynch Jr. lies under a headstone that mistakenly labels him a veteran of the Vietnam War who served in the U.S. Air Force. In fact, the East Hartford native was a proud veteran of the Connecticut Air National Guard and never served in Vietnam, Petrella, one of his three surviving children, said.

Her father would not want “Vietnam” on his tombstone because he was always honest about his service and would not want his grandchildren, great grandchildren or anyone else in the future to think he made false claims, Petrella said.

“I have not slept through the night since I lost my father, and a lot of it is stress because of this,” Petrella said Thursday.

Petrella said the D’Esopo East Hartford Memorial Chapel is to blame for a delay of more than a year in getting a correct headstone placed and for mistakes in the engraving. The funeral home, D’Esopo general manager Lionel Lessard said Thursday, acknowledges the engraving errors and said a corrected stone will be installed as soon as the weather allows.

“We know it’s important,” Lessard said.

Lynch, an East Hartford High School graduate who worked for Travelers Insurance Co. in Hartford for 36 years, died at age 78 on May 6, 2016. He was buried five days later in the Veterans Memorial Field section of Silver Lane Cemetery. The family supplied the funeral home with all the needed information, including Lynch’s military records, Petrella said.

In May 2017, Petrella said, she went to the funeral home to question why a stone still had not been placed. Lessard told her that a form to obtain the headstone through the U.S. Veterans Administration had not been signed by her mother, Petrella said.

Petrella said her mother had never seen the form, but after ensuring that the paperwork was signed, Petrella said she continued to wait and finally heard in August that the stone was installed.

“I was very excited — until I read it,” she said.

Michael Lynch’s second child said she visits his grave regularly, waiting for the right marker to be laid.

“This is the last thing I will ever be able to do for my father. He and I were very close,” Petrella said. “I’m always down there, saying, ‘Dad, I’m trying.’ ”

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