Jessica Lynch

Jessica Dawn Lynch was born in Palestine, West Virginia. Since her family could not afford to send her to college, in September 2001 they encouraged her to enlist in the army, where she became a supply clerk and later deployed to Iraq.

On 23 March 2003 the Army’s 507th Maintenance Company and elements of the 3rd Combat Support Battalion made a wrong turn and were ambushed near Nasiriyah, a major crossing point over the Euphrates northwest of Basra. Lynch’s Humvee was struck by an RPG and crashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer. She was severely injured. During the fighting eleven Americans were killed. Lynch and five other soldiers were captured.

Medic requested the Official Military Personnel File of Jessica  Lynch from the National Archive. The files released were minimal. File 1, File 2, File 3, File 4.

Iraqi forces took Lynch to a hospital in Nasiriyah, where she was well treated. US forces were tipped off to her location by an Iraqi, who told them she had been tortured and injured but was still alive. This was disputed by the hospital staff and by Lynch herself.  On March 30th, an Iraqi hospital doctor reportedly attempted to have Lynch delivered to U.S. forces, but the Americans fired on the ambulance carrying her and the attempt was abandoned. On 1 April 2003 special forces teams rescued Lynch and retrieved the bodies of eight American soldiers.

Soon after she was rescued the Pentagon released a five-minute video and claimed that Lynch had stab and bullet wounds, and that she had been slapped and interrogated while recuperating. Iraqi doctors and nurses described Lynch’s injuries as “a broken arm, a broken thigh, and a dislocated ankle.” There were no gunshot or stab wounds. Lynch’s injuries were consistent with a car accident. Lynch stated her leg was broken when her Humvee flipped over.

Also in contradiction to earlier Pentagon press releases, Pentagon officials disputed a report in the Washington Post that Lynch had “fought to the death” during the ambush. Weeks later, the first official Pentagon report of Lynch’s ordeal stated that she did not appear to have fought back. According to a former Pentagon official, the stories of her supposed heroics were spread by the news media, and by West Virginia congressmen who lobbied the Pentagon to award her honors based on false reports of her ordeal.

US army medical records indicated that Lynch had been raped during the first three hours of her captivity, when she was unconscious. The authorized biography, I Am A Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, by former New York Times journalist Rick Bragg asserts that Lynch was raped and sodomized. The Iraqi doctors who treated her denied they had found evidence of sexual assault.

From Kuwait, Lynch was transported to Landstuhl, Germany, where she underwent back surgery. She had several more surgeries to stabilize her fractures. Upon returning to the United States she was greeted by thousands of West Virginia residents and by her then-fiancé Army Sergeant Ruben Contreras. Soon afterward, Lynch and Contreras separated.

At Walter Reed hospital Lynch underwent further surgeries and specialized treatment and rehabilitation. She was released from the hospital on 22 July, more than three months after her injury. She was honorably discharged on 27 August 2003.

Months after returning, Lynch began speaking in public. She was sharply critical of the original Washington Post report. When asked about heroics attributed to her, she replied “That wasn’t me.  I’m not about to take credit for something I didn’t do … I’m just a survivor.”

Lynch did not claim that she fought until being wounded, but she did say her weapon jammed and that she could not have fought anyway. Concerning the media and the Pentagon, Lynch stated, “They used me to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong. I don’t know why they filmed [the rescue mission] or why they say these things.” Lynch also stated “I did not shoot, not a round, nothing. I went down praying to my knees. And that’s the last I remember.”

On 24 April 2007 Lynch testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the Pentagon had erroneously portrayed her as a “Rambo from the hills of West Virginia” when, in fact, she never fired a shot after her Humvee was ambushed.

…It is time for the truth, the whole truth, versus hype and misinformation. I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that…The truth of war is not always easy to hear but it is always more heroic than the hype.”

Despite the letters of support she received after her testimony Lynch still received hate mail from Americans who accused her of making up heroic acts. “I was captured, but then I was okay and I didn’t go down fighting. Okay, so what?” she said. “It was really hard to convince people that I didn’t have to do any of that. That I was injured, that I still needed comfort.”

The Pentagon took pains to refute the BBC documentary War Spin, which picked apart the Pentagon’s narrative of Lynch’s rescue.

In 2011 Lynch obtained a BA in Elementary Education. She has worked as a substitute teacher and motivational speaker. In 2018 it was reported that she is a 5th grade teacher in West Virginia. She suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

article source: wikipedia

Clip from BBC documentary War Spin.

The Guardian: The Truth About Jessica Lynch

The Washington Post: She Was Fighting to the Death

Reuters video: The Treatment of Jessica Lynch by Iraqi Doctors