VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta Northside Station Post Office has been renamed and bears the name of a Valdosta hero. The building is now known as the Maj. Lyn McIntosh Post Office Building.
Wednesday morning, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop; Lizbeth Dobbins, South Georgia district manager, U.S, Postal Service; Valdosta Postmaster Donald Snipes; Mayor James Rainwater; Col. Roland Guidry, Operation Eagle Claw MC-130 Squadron commander; the McIntosh family and members of the community gathered at the Post Office at 3698 Inner Perimeter Road as a plaque was unveiled to pay tribute to McIntosh.
The Valdostan was one of eight Americans killed on April 25, 1980, during the aborted rescue attempt of 66 Americans held hostage in Iran. The hostages had been held since Nov. 4, 1979, when more than 3,000 Iranian militant students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
During the ceremony, Rainwater proclaimed the day as Maj. Lyn Davis McIntosh Memorial Day. "This is a day we'll always remember," he said. "I ask all citizens to honor and pay honor and tribute to this great American and native son for his outstanding to his country and fellow man."
Bishop said the event was not only a special day for Valdosta, but for the country. "We honor one of our own who honored us with his service and sacrifice," he said. "It's special because we have the opportunity to say to his family and to this community that we owe you so very much, because you shared your son with us and your father with us."
Guidry, who was McIntosh's squadron commander during the mission, had known him for less than a year. He described McIntosh as a quiet professional and a friend.
Of the eight men killed, McIntosh was one of five who could be
identified. The other three were buried in a common grave. "We're lucky that Lyn's body could be identified and buried here in Valdosta," Guidry said.
Scott McIntosh is the oldest of McIntosh's sons; he was 10 when his 33-year-old father died in the Iranian desert. He remembers that his father had accomplished his dream. "Daddy always wanted to fly, and not everybody is fortunate enough to live out their dream, but he did," Scott said.
Scott said all the servicemen who went on the rescue mission were heroes. "Eight of them made the ultimate sacrifice," he said. "His death was devastating to our family, but we knew he died doing what he loved. He was fully aware of the danger."
The Moody Air Force Base Honor Guard presented the American flag that flew during Wednesday's ceremony to Scott on behalf of his family. Scott, cradling the flag, said it was a token and symbol of his father's heroism. It was also proof that Valdosta cares about its citizens. "They go out of their way to do things special for families," he said.
Lyn McIntosh's father, Herbert McGregor "Mac" McIntosh, described how much he and his wife, Christine, appreciated what Valdosta had done for their family. "We love Valdosta. This is something we didn't expect and we became so excited." With his voice breaking, Herbert McIntosh said, "Lyn loved Valdosta."
On July 3, 1981, the City of Valdosta and local citizens dedicated a memorial on the corner of North Ashley Street and Woodrow Wilson Drive that included an F-86 airplane and plaque to pay tribute to McIntosh.
"I thought we needed something more permanent to memorialize his participation in the Iran hostage rescue attempt," said Ed Willis, then-president of the Lowndes County Historical Society. "He was the only Georgian killed in the incident, when the only president from the state of Georgia was in office."
In 2000, Willis and Phil Youngblood, commander, American Legion Post 13, spearheaded the drive to rename the Northside Station Post Office. Willis prepared a request in a joint effort through the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, Valdosta City Council, American Legion Post 13 and Lowndes County Historical Society to petition Congress. The resolution was approved by the City Council to name the new postal facility for McIntosh on July 6, 2000. Willis asked Youngblood to coordinate it with Bishop, who introduced the bill on Dec. 20, 2001. President Bush signed the resolution into law on April 18, 2002.
"I'm very touched and moved," Youngblood said. "This is a way to remember him as a Valdostan. He (McIntosh) did what he was asked to do, and he did it honorably."
To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.
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