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Jessica Lynch

Soldier

Born: 26 April 1983
Birthplace: Wirt County, West Virginia (?)
Best known as: POW rescued in Operation Iraqi Freedom

On 3 April 2003, The Washington Post reported the dramatic rescue of a prisoner of war: U.S. Army Private Jessica Lynch, a 19 year-old supply clerk assigned to the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company. Lynch and members of her unit had been captured by Iraqi forces after their vehicles got lost on 23 March 2003. A special U.S. team rescued Lynch from an Iraqi hospital on 1 April 2003, but found no other American soldiers alive. (The bodies of 11 other soldiers were recovered). The Post reported that an Iraqi lawyer, Mohammed Odeh Al-Rehaief, gave vital information to the rescue team, putting his own life in danger to help rescue Lynch. Lynch eventually returned to her home in Palestine, West Virginia to recuperate. She became an instant celebrity and a popular symbol of American heroism, thanks to widespread media coverage of her rescue.

The actual details of Lynch's rescue have been widely disputed. Original reports said that Lynch had suffered bullet and stab wounds, but that information was later called incorrect by military officials and by Lynch's family. A month later, the BBC reported that many parts of the story were untrue. Doctors from the Iraqi hospital claimed that there were no Iraqi soldiers around at the time of the rescue, that Lynch had been treated well and that they had tried to return her to U.S. forces two days before the rescue. The doctors said she had been treated for wounds consistent with a road accident: she had head and spine injuries as well as fractures in her right arm, right foot and both legs. Some have suggested the rescue raid itself was a propaganda stunt staged to boost the morale of U.S. forces, perhaps at the behest of officials in the George W. Bush administration. Others have said the news media simply got the story wrong from the get-go. Lynch's book on the incident, I Am A Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, was released on 11 November 2003.

Extra credit:

Lynch received an honorable discharge from the Army due to medical disability in August 2003... She is engaged to marry a fellow soldier, Army Sgt. Ruben Contreras, in June of 2004... After Lynch's rescue, Mohammed Odeh Al-Rehaief moved with his family to the United States, where he was granted political asylum... Lynch's book was co-authored by journalist Rick Bragg.

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