Jessica was one of the 11 members of the 507th Maintenance Company that was ambushed when they made a wrong turn in Iraq near the city of Nasiriyah.

Five members of the crew were shown on Iraqi TV answering questions from their Iraqi captors.

Jessica who was rescued was found with several gunshot wounds and broken legs and an arm in a hospital, location not disclosed -only details are that it was near where they were ambushed, that had been 'transformed' into a prison. No other POWs were found.

The rescue mission as recovered 11 other bodies, it has not yet been released if there was any Americans among them.

Jessica is from a farming community in Palestine, W.Va and she had joined the army to raise enough money to go off to school, she is planning on being a teacher after her years in the service.

Jessica's brother Gregory is in the National Guards in Fort Bragg, NC. Jessica joined the army as a delayed entrant, meaning she joined before her high school graduation from Wirt County High School in Elizabeth.


resource: ap newswire
update

Jessica has been taken to a German hospital for treatment and has been 'in good spirits'. There had been several reports on her condition ranging from no gunshots or stab wounds - to the latest report was that she does have a gunshot wound. She does have two broken legs, a broken arm which she has had surgery for those fractures and the placed pins in. Jessica also had a spinal injury which she's under went surgery for repair to a fractured disk. Her wounds show that she was shot by a small-caliber gun

Jessica's parents are currently in route to Germany to be by their daughters side.

As updates come available the node will be updated


Update!! July 22, 2003

Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch is "glad to be home" after her long ordeal of being a POW and then her long road of recovery not only in a Iraqi hospital, German hospital and then finally a US hospital. Jessica is still recovering and needs assistance with a walker for injuries she sustained to her spine and legs. She is expected to have a full recovery, and then continue her dream to study on to be a school teacher.

Elizabeth, WV welcomed the ex-pow home with a parade, and large crowd - Jessica rode thru the parade in a Ford Mustang with her brother, Army Pfc. Greg Lynch Jr. Townspeople volunteers renovated the Lynch family home to be wheelchair accessible for when Jessica arrived home, it was successful and she commented on how thankful she was for the volunteers.

Jessica did speak to the press briefly stating that she is happy to be home, but it was pre-announced that she would not be answering any question from the press.


Welcome home Jessica.

I was very pleased when I read that 19-year-old Private First Class Jessica Lynch had been rescued after 8 days of captivity in an Iraqi hospital. The young Army supply clerk suffered fractures to both legs, her right, her right foot, right ankle, skull, and spine (which will all require multiple surgeries to repair). Reports conflict as to whether or not she was shot. But given her condition, she was probably tortured and starved as well. After her unit, the 507th Maintenance Company, was ambushed by Iraqi soldiers posing as civilians, the Washington Post reported that she shot several Iraqis with her sidearm before she ran out of ammunition and was overcome.

Lynch continued fighting even after she was pretty badly hurt, even though fighting wasn't supposed to be her job. That's a pretty good showing for a teenager of a gender considered too fragile for combat positions.

But when I looked at her picture in the paper, I saw the faces of all my friends in high school and in college who signed up for the National Guard or ROTC to try to get a better life for themselves.

According to an article I read in the Columbus Dispatch, Jessica and many of her friends signed up for military service because their home town, Palestine, West Virginia, has a 15% unemployment rate.

15% unemployment.

My city of Columbus, Ohio has less than half that unemployment rate; people from West Virginia typically come here to seek work. I've know local people with college degrees and solid work experience who've remained unemployed for over a year.

Right now, Jessica and teenagers like her fresh from high school in depressed towns have very, very few job options available to them other than joining the military.

If I were an extremely cynical person, I'd think the Bush Administration planned to not do anything of substance about our bad economy.

I can hear the post-inauguration meeting with Rumsfeld now: "Well, Dubya, you know we're gonna need to take care of business in Iraq and the other countries on our agenda. We're gonna need a lot of strong young soldiers manning the guns, tanks and supply lines, and you don't want to be the man to reinstate the draft. The draft will guarantee you don't get reelected. So let's just make sure all those kids who'd be flipping burgers or shelving books are learning to lock-and-load instead. Throw the public a tax cut -- that'll be popular, and it'll keep things on track."

Yes, who needs a draft when much of your target demographic -- poor and working-class kids in their late teens and early 20s -- will inevitably go to Uncle Sam on their own, especially after they see all those sexy "Army of One" ads promising them a life of independence, adventure, respect, and money for college?

I hope Lynch is strong enough to recover and is able to get on with her life and desired career as a kindergarten teacher.

Jessica Lynch's rescue was facilitated by information disclosed to the U.S. Marines by an Iraqi named "Mohammed" (his last name is being withheld to protect him from Iraqi reprisals). Mohammed's wife worked as a nurse at the hospital in Nasiriyah where the captured 19-year-old supply clerk was being held. He resolved to help Lynch when he saw her slapped around by a black-clad Fedayeen Saddam officer.

A 32-year old Iraqi lawyer who learned English at Basra University, Mohammed spoke to Lynch and then walked several miles to find a U.S. Marine position outside Nasiriyah. He approached with his hands up. The Marines were on a hair-trigger because of recent incidents in the area in which the Fedayeen had feigned surrender and then fired on the Americans.

"What do you want?" a Marine asked.
"I have important information about woman soldier in hospital," he replied.

That got their attention. While he was trying to contact the Marines, Mohammed's wife took their child and went to stay with their family. That night, the Fedayeen Saddam showed up at his house and ransacked the place, searching for something.

The Marines convinced Mohammed to provide some reconnaissance. Mohammad returned to the hospital, observed it for several days, and spoke to Lynch, then went back to the Marines. Mohammed and his wife sketched the facility, and provided the numbers and habits of the Iraqi soldiers guarding the facility, and verified that a helicopter could land on the roof.

On April 1, 2003, U.S. commandos rescued Lynch and recovered several bodies from the hospital, which may be the remains of U.S. soldiers missing in action.

Mohammed, his wife, and their child are now (April 4) in a refugee camp in Umm Qasr. Mohammed is a Shiite, born in the holy city of Najaf. "In the future when Saddam Hussein is down," he told reporters, "I will go back to Nasiriyah."


Sources:

  • CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/04/04/sprj.irq.pow.informer/index.html
  • Peter Baker, The Washington Post (as reported at http://www.msnbc.com/news/895233.asp?0cv=NB10).
This story isn't complete yet, but what we've learned already is quite remarkable. Permit me to speculate on a few points that haven't been mentioned so far.
  • The dialog between Jessica Lynch and a member of the rescue team (I'd guess an operator from the Army's "Delta Force"** since he is referred to as a "soldier" rather than a "marine" or a "sailor") is probably unprecedented in U.S. military history:
    A soldier called her name. Lynch didn't respond but lowered the sheet.

    The soldier said, "Jessica Lynch, we're United States soldiers here, and we're here to protect you and take you home."

    ...the soldier took off his helmet and approached Lynch, who looked up and said, "I'm an American soldier, too."
    http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/04/05/sprj.irq.lynch.rescue/index.html
    For years, fiction writers have tried to come up with the perfect line for the hero to say (or hear) when rescued (or when rescuing). Usually, it's something macho, like "Gee what took ya" or "It's about time". Now we have probably the first ever basis in reality for what a U.S., female POW says in these circumstances. The writer in me wants her to have said it with a bit of spunk, perhaps in response to the condescension implied by "we're here to protect you", her rejoinder implying in turn, "Stupid man, don't worry about protecting me. I'm no civilian, I'm one of you! Now lets get out of here!" But regardless of what was implied, it's a great affirmation -- woman have truly arrived. Lets hope we're finally seeing the end of the notion that women can't handle combat. Now if only I could learn to write decent dialog...

  • "Mohammad", the Iraqi hero who made her rescue possible, nearly had his family slaughtered by the regime. The April 3, 2003 press release by Marine Sgt. Joseph R. Chenelly, quotes Mohammad extensively:
    While he observed Saddam's henchmen {at the hospital}, Mohammad said the notorious regime death squad paid his home an unexpected visit. His wife and 6-year-old daughter fled to nearby family. Many of his personal belongings, including his car, were seized.

    "I am not worried for myself," he said. But "security in Iraq (that is still) loyal to Saddam will kill my wife. They will kill my (child)."
    http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/apr2003/a040303d.html
    Reportedly, Mohammad is now the Guest of Honor at the Marine base in Kuwait.

      Update April 30, 2003: The man, now identified by the Associated Press as Mohammed al-Rehaief, arrive in the States April 10 and was promptly granted asylum. The news broke today. Apparently this means the al-Rehaief family can either return to Iraq at a later date, or if they like, apply for US citizenship, which is much easier if you've been given asylum than if you are an immigrant. The AP also adds, "After Lynch was rescued, al-Rehaief and his family stayed at a refugee camp in Iraq" prior to moving to the states, so apparently he didn't spend all his time with the Marines. The al-Rehaief family hope to have a reunion with Pfc. Lynch when the time is right.
      http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/04/29/sprj.irq.lynch.asylum.ap/index.html


      Update May 23, 2003: It's interesting that speculation elsewhere in this node that the rescue was "staged" to appear more dramatic than it really was, as well as the news articles (appearing in strident anti-war, anti-US armed forces publications such as the Guardian), on which his speculation was based, did not appear until after the news broke that Pfc. Lynch has amnesia. Hmmm...as former New York Times report Jayson Blair knew all along, the war is too important to bother with niceties as eye-witness testimony.


      Update June 28, 2003: "Journalists quoting each other". QXZ helpfully cites several news stories in support of his writeup, in a frankly Information-Minister-worthy attempt to give the appearance that the allegation is confirmed by independant reports. A check of his citations reveals, each separate story that discusses the main allegation is simply a rehash of the same BBC Correspondant programme entitled "War Spin" that aired May 18, 2003, and not independant reporting at all! For example, the foxnews.com report doesn't mention the allegation at all; its only value to QXZ's writeup is apparently to support the un-controversial assertion that Pfc. Lynch suffers from amnesia.

      If only QXZ had bothered to closely read the BBC transcript, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/spl/hi/programmes/correspondent/transcripts/18.5.031.txt. The sole basis for the claim that there were no Fedayeen guarding Pfc. Lynch is an Iraqi who is speaking to a US solider as the operation is unfolding! I suppose the BBC would have preferred the rescuers to fall back, postpone and re-plan their entire operation to contain the precise amount of drama that could in hindsight be justified. On the other hand, perhaps from the begining there were no Fedayeen present. How do we know Pfc. Lynch didn't wander into that hospital on her own, upset with the criminal failure of the Bush administration to implement Univeral Health Care?

      Those biased Guardian and BBC journalists apply hyper-vigilance to all statements by the military, which would be fair, except that the statements by Iraqis that contradict the military are simply repeated verbatim, with little discussion of who these Iraqis are, or what their motives might be! Could they be Saddaam loyalists*, or simply a little ashamed of their treatment and what the Fedayeen forced them to do to the prisoners? What was the circumstances of their witnessing the rescue? Where were they standing? Were they qualified to judge the difference between a loaded weapon, an unloaded weapon, and a flash-bang non-lethal grenade? What about questioning the Washington Post -- might they have got the story wrong? I'm not saying they were loyalists, but these question should have at least been asked by the BBC. The implication is, since we can never really know the truth, we should believe Iraqis who, if they lie or are simply mistaken, will suffer little or no consequences once this story fades from the front page, over the U.S. military who, if they are wrong or lying, will suffer long-term consequences, including Congressional investigation. A correction: I do not think Dr. a-Houssona actually claims to have driven the ambulance, from what I've read he detailed that task to an ambulance driver, so he has no first-hand knowledge that the ambulance was fired upon by U.S. forces. To me, a give-away is the doctor's claim that the US fired on an ambulance "for no reason". While its theoretically possible this may have accidentally happened in the fog of war, the fact is, the US firing on ambulances was also a constant theme of Iraqi (Dis-)Information Ministry propeganda, a relevant fact that somehow wasn't included in the BBC report.

      The best that can be said about the BBC report, it is the quality one would expect of breaking news coverage of an ongoing event, and shows little of the quality, balance, and care one would expect of a world-class news organization reporting analytically, after the fact. Either that, or it was intentionally biased. In marked contrast, ABC News and the Washington Post revisited this story, their accounts seem to me much more balanced: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/primetime/World/iraq_507convoy030617_pt1.html and http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/135029092_lynch19.html. For example, the original detail that Pfc. Lynch "emptied her M-16" is correctly attributed to "unnamed U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports" (not necessarily soldiers, even!), so this detail could have been a military leak with the goal of spinning the story, or sloppy journalism trying to sell papers. That does happen, you know. There are even reports of radio intercepts of conversations by Iraqi intelligence officials saying to themselves that she'd gone down fighting! Reading between the lines, it's almost as if these Iraqis, not knowing what to make of a female soldier, instictively lionized her as brave...Might Iraqi culture, like so many other cultures, appreciate a good yarn, even if embellishment is required? The U.S. military is held to task over why the convoy was mis-routed in the first place, and why there is ongoing secrecy; but soldiers who were actually part of the convoy were interviewed, their written reports, personal letters, and diaries examined, and a detailed chronology is attempted. Many Iraqis are interviewed who support and contradict each other and the military accounts. We are told details about who these Iraqis are and the circumstances of how they came to be present when they saw what they saw. Over all, a much more useful and balanced account that the Beeb, and frankly, these ABC and Post reports make a much better story, detailing the incredible chaos and confusion, tenderness and terror, that is war. Finally, the best part of all: as of June 19, according to the Post, Pfc. Lynch "recently walked more than 100 steps using a walker." End of June 28, 2003 update.

  • While he arranged for her rescue, making two separate round trips through embattled city streets to the hospital, he probably saved her from mutilation or even death at the hands of the hospital "staff":
    She was covered up to her chin by a white blanket. Her head was bandaged. A wound on the right leg was in bad condition.

    "The doctors wanted to cut her leg off," he said. "My friend and I decided we would stop it."

    Creating numerous diversions, they managed to delay the surgery long enough. "She would have died if they tried it," he said.
    Ibid.
    I use the term "mutilate" advisedly, because amputation is a form of mutilation even when it is medically justified. But, reading between the lines, it seems possible they held the prospect of amputation over her head as an implied threat. There might also have been an added dimension of misogyny at play. Films such as Full Circle about women's life in nearby Iran suggest a cultural bias among otherwise reasonable medical professionals whereby women are routinely subjected to a lower standard of care, or even non-consensual or unnecessary medical procedures. On the other hand, she reportedly developed a fever soon after her rescue, so the leg might have been legitimately "going bad". The Ramstein AFB doctors proved definitively that amputation was uncalled-for, but one could give the Iraqi doctors the benefit of the doubt and hope they considered amputation only because they didn't have the training, modern equipment, funding, or authorization for reconstructive surgery even in peacetime, not to mention during wartime. Yet some of the U.S. POWs from the 1991 Gulf War reported that, once it was clear Saddam was loosing the war, the torture stopped and they were given excellent medical care by western-trained physicians, including orthopedic care (See video interviews of Gulf War POWs at http://www.c-span.org/search/basic.asp?ResultStart=1&ResultCount=10&BasicQueryText=POW, at this point I'm unable to find a transcipts).
    Update November 9, 2003: The NBC Miniseries "Saving Jessica Lynch" has now aired. I consider it to be fiction at least partly based in fact, but certainly not journalism. On the question of amputation, it implies that the Iraqi officer in charge of her interrogation wanted urgently to move Pfc. Lynch to Baghdad to continue the interrogation, but the doctors feared she would loose her leg or her life if she was moved. The officer then commanded them to preemptively amputate so she could travel. The doctors began to prepare, but to their credit, didn't rush. Before the amputation could begin, the officer was pulled away by the Marines' diversionary raid. This plausible speculation deserves to be investigated by journalists.
    In the end, we can only speculate as to the totality of Pfc. Lynch's circumstances. Hopefully these issues will be cleared up in the aftermath of the war.

  • The Arab News, which is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's official English-language paper, spins like mad to avoid the implication that a Muslim may have co-operated with U.S. forces:
    The {rescue team} commander, whose identity cannot be revealed, told Arab News that he is unsure how they "got the word about the POW," adding the media suggested it was an informant, "but I don’t have any personal knowledge of that."
    http://www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=24735
    In the entire article, that is the only mention of how Lynch was discovered. Just a further reminder, the Arab News are the fun people who brought you such helpful news articles as wife beating 101. Keep up the good work, Arab News! We can't let the word get out that Muslims can rise above politics and have sympathy for a fellow, female human being.

  • As dawn neared, the rescue team turned their attention to the bodies of Pfc. Lynch's colleagues:
    The rescue team was quickly losing its cover of darkness. The soldiers wanted to retrieve the bodies found in graves, believing they were U.S. soldiers, but they did not have shovels.

    They dug with their bare hands...
    http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/04/05/sprj.irq.lynch.rescue/index.html
    All told, quite an amazing story.
Update October 17, 2003:

Dateline NBC has aired an interview with Mohammed al-Rehaief (full disclosure - al Rehaief now has a book out). The companion piece on MSNBC.com has the transcript, a book excerpt, and video from the interview at http://www.msnbc.com/news/981671.asp. Highlights include:

  • After he decides to try and let coalition forces know about the prisoner, he has to cross the line to get to them. He remarks nonchalantly: "I have to walk toward the Americans. But I cannot raise my hand, or have a white flag. If I do, the Iraqi snipers will shoot me, because they consider me as a deserter." There were many, many other reports of Iraqi forces murdering civilians who attempted to surrender, or holding family members hostage in order to induce the father or sons to go on suicide missions in order to make it appear that coalition forces were killing civilians indiscriminately. Now you understand why I object when statements by Dr. a-Houssona that coalition forces fired on Pfc. Lynch's ambulance are reported without caveats.
  • After he'd gone to PFC Lynch's hospital the final time and was returning to coalition territory, Jamie Gangel, the Dateline correspondent, reports, "the Marines had warned him he had to cross Victory Bridge, his escape route, before U.S. Forces began bombing it that afternoon. And then on the way out of the hospital, Mohammed was spotted and chased by Iraqi guards. He raced for the bridge, the fedayeen gaining on him...By the time he reached the bridge, the bombing had begun. One bomb fell so close that shrapnel from it blinded his left eye. But it also saved his life; it killed the Iraqis chasing him."
  • Dateline reports: "Mohammed insists his part of the story is true.
    Gangel: “Did you, in any way exaggerate or over-dramatize your role, what you saw, what you know happened?”
    Mohammed: “No.”
    In other reports, doctors and nurses who still work at the hospital have disputed Mohammed’s story, saying Lynch was never abused.
    Gangel: “They are lying?”
    Mohammed: “Yes. Do you know why?”
    Gangel: “Why?”
    Mohammed: “Because they scared if Saddam Hussein come back to the power.”

Some Footnotes for Clarification

* The sentence marked with * above originally contained a parenthetical remark, "is Dr. Uday named after Saddaam's son, the mass murderer and serial rapist?" After consideration and good advice from several noders, I've removed that remark, because based on how common the name Uday is in that part of the globe, it was an unreasonable speculation on my part.

** This sentence used to speculate that the rescuers were Army Rangers. However, 54b points out, "Rangers are usually used as shock troops. Now, special forces, namely the Delta Force, were operating in the area at that time, under the cover name of Task Force 41, or something like that. Hostage rescue, namely Smash and Grab, is one of their specialties." So I changed the writeup. Thanks, B.

"Things are seldom what they seem.
Skim milk masquerades as cream."

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert
H.M.S. Pinafore

The recovery of PFC Jessica Lynch from a hospital in Nasiriya, Iraq, turns out to have been mostly an elaborate bit of stagecraft enacted for the sake of American morale, both soldier and civilian.

Note well: the claim is not that the situation was faked, per se, just... embellished a bit. Jessica Lynch's status as a very brave and lucky individual is not in dispute. She was indeed captured by Iraqi soldiers, her comrades in arms were indeed killed by the same. She did arrive at the Nasiriyan hospital with fractures and other injuries. From this point on, however, the waters muddy.

In a recent interview with John Kampfner of The Guardian, Dr. Harith a-Houssona (a physician at the hospital in question) stated:

“I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken thigh and a dislocated ankle. Then I did another examination. There was no (sign of) shooting, no bullet inside her body, no stab wound — only RTA, road traffic accident,” he recalled. “They want to distort the picture. I don’t know why they think there is some benefit in saying she has a bullet injury.”

Dr. a-Houssona played a further part in Lynch's saga when he, personally, attempted to deliver PFC Lynch to the Americans at a checkpoint, as per a plan established two days before the Live At Five rescue attempt. The ambulance carrying Dr. a-Houssona and PFC Lynch was fired on by the Americans as it approached the checkpoint, and immediately turned back.

A local waiter named Hassam Hamoud was questioned by a military interpreter about the condition of the hospital one day before the scheduled rescue attempt. “He (the interpreter) asked: ‘Are there any Fedayeen over there?’ and I said, ‘No’.”

It seems reasonable to doubt the word of one Iraqi on the ground, or at least to err on the side of caution. As such, the fact that the hospital was stormed by commandos doesn't feel particularly damning. However, the actual nature of the slam-bang event rings a bit hollow. In the words of another physician at the aforementioned hospital, Dr. Anmar Uday:

“We heard the noise of helicopters. We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military, there were no soldiers in the hospital. It was like a Hollywood film. They cried, ‘Go, go, go’, with guns and blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show — an action movie like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and shouting, breaking down doors.”

Whether or not the soldiers' weapons were actually loaded with blanks is under contention. One assumes Dr. Uday says this because he heard gunfire but saw no bullet damage. Ditto for "the sound of explosions". Brigadier General Vincent Brooks responded to these points of interest by stating "There was not a firefight inside of the building, I will tell you, but there were firefights outside of the building, getting in and getting out." Other Pentagon officials evaded questioning by saying that stories conflicted and they were sure the "truth would eventually come out".

And, of course, all of this is useless (like so many things in these modern times) if it isn't captured on videotape! So the military did set up their dramatic night vision camera at what appeared to be the entrance to the hospital and taped the goings-on. The crack post-production crews in the military had an edited five minute piece ready for network airing mere hours after the rescue was accomplished. As of the date of this posting, the Pentagon has refused to release the unedited footage of the rescue to anyone.

Simon Wren, media advisor to the British government, described the Lynch-rescue "performance" as "embarrassing", from a journalistic standpoint.

Unfortunately for the Quest for Truth, Jessica Lynch happens to be suffering from total global amnesia according to Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Shame, isn't it?

Regardless, NBC has a made-for-tv-movie in the works about the rescue of Jessica Lynch. One assumes they're unfazed that the US military has already released one.


Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/correspondent/3028585.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2938589.stm
http://www.statesman.com/news/content/coxnet/iraq/story/0517_LYNCH.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,956255,00.html
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,85936,00.html
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/05/19/cnna.kampener.lynch/
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/122532_lynched19.html
http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/05/19/sprj.irq.bbc.lynch.dod/

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