A Tale of Extraordinary
The honour and courage of an Iraqi
citizen, Army Rangers, Navy SEALS, U.S. Marines, USAF
and a junior-rank supply soldier:
Rescuing Private Jessica
April 3 - Updated as indicated On 1 April a daring U.S. Forces
raid rescued a 5' 5" 19-year-old Private from the Iraqi hands
that according to early speculation had tortured her.
An earlier discovery of PFC Lynch's bloodied
uniform beside a blunt implement at another Ba'athist HQ location
plus statements of a local who assisted with intelligence for the
raid raised this suspicion.
Officials seem to be downplaying this soldier's story.
Private Lynch's story is dwarfed by
concern for five members of her unit held captive by unknown
Iraqi factions of Saddam Hussein's Feda`iyien. Private Jessica Lynch's full
account awaits its telling by the soldier herself.
Since March 23, Private First Class Jessica Lynch (19) of Palestine, West Virginia
had been reported Missing In Action (MIA) when a convoy of the
507th Maintenance Company was ambushed after a wrong
turn near the Iraqi city of Nassiriya.
A team of Marines that tried to rescue the missing convoy on
the day of the ambush discovered burning vehicles and several
The maintenance support unit was ambushed near Nassiriya --a
Euphrates River-crossing city-- where sporadic battles raged
since troops first reached it during early fighting in "Operation
In a tormenting revelation, five members of Private Lynch's
unit, including one other female soldier, were later shown on Iraqi
television and on Qatar-based Al Jazeera Arab TV network. In the
video they were answering questions under obvious duress from
their Iraqi captors
In the same atrocious video clip were four executed soldiers,
two of whom clearly had visible bullet holes in the centre of
Private Lynch, who drove a water tanker in the convoy, was not
seen among the five Prisoners of War shown on Iraqi TV. She had
been listed MIA, not POW and her family had no idea whether she
was alive or dead. Her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia was
quickly tied in yellow ribbons from one end to the other.
Early (April 3, 2003) efforts at piecing together the details
of Private Lynch's story yields a fascinating tale of courage
about a POW, an Iraqi man and his family; and a commando rescue
Several pieces of ominous evidence were collected in the time
since Pvt. Lynch's whereabouts became unknown. Marines raided
a hidden military-style HQ in a hospital building near Nassiriya where other members of Lynch's unit had
been videotaped and later shown on Iraqi TV. Marines found at
least one shredded woman's uniform spattered with blood and the
name patch torn off.
Marines were led to the missing soldier by a tip from an Iraqi man
whose wife was a nurse at the the "Saddam Hospital" facility, a so-called hospital. Working undercover, this
brave Iraqi coded as "Mohammed" returned to the hospital to
gather intelligence, including the number of Iraqi troops (41)
guarding the building, the layout of the building and the room in
which Lynch was guarded by four black-uniformed agents of the
Saddam Fedaheen death squad. He then made his report to the
Marines. This courageous man and his family have been granted
U.S. refugee status and have been taken to a secure location.
Meantime his home had been raided and looted by Saddam Hussein's
In the late evening of 1 April, Brigadier-General Vincent
Brooks at Camp As Saliyah , Qatar announced in the press briefing
room that, "Coalition forces have conducted a successful rescue
mission of a U.S. Army prisoner of war held captive in Iraq. The
soldier has been returned to a coalition controlled area. More
details will be released as soon as possible."
Under cover of a diversionary Marine attack on the opposite
side of the town, Special Forces raided the so-called hospital,
believed to be a headquarters for Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majid, a
cousin of dictator Saddam Hussein known as 'Chemical Ali' for
his preference for chemical
weapons and his gassing of Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s.
Members of a multi-service operation including the renowned
Army Rangers and Navy SEALs with a unit of the 1st Marines
Expeditionary Force pulled off the helicopter rescue apparently
without a hitch. Like Private Lynch they are likely to be
The bodies of 11 other US troops were recovered in the
operation, eight of which are believed to be members of the 507.
In the so-called hospital they also found a weapons cache and a
large-scale sandbox model in the basement accurately depicting US
and Iraqi troop positions in Nassiriya.
(para. updated April 5) This first successful U.S. rescue of a U.S.
Prisoner of War
since World War II gave an enormous boost to morale throughout
the coalition nations, particularly the US. The last-known
successful POW rescue was when Army Rangers freed more than 500
POWs from a Japanese prison camp near Cabanatuan in the
Philippines in 1945.
Lynch's family was told at about 6 p.m. on April 1 that the
missing soldier had been rescued by American troops.
Members of the medical crew accompanying her on the 8.5-hour
flight to Germany from Kuwait on 2 April said she appeared
clear-headed, was smiling and alert, but didn't discuss her
plight with them.
On April 3, Jessica Lynch began extensive surgery at a US
military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. Attempts were being made
to prepare her for a trip to the United States.
Micheal J. O'Brien, Editor 3 April 2003 12:23 EST.