Jessica Lynch

By

Bonnie M. Wells

There have been many "hillbilly" and "red neck" jokes about West Virginia. Most are laughable. Some are hilarious. Some are even based on fact, as they could be from any state. But setting all jokes aside {for a moment} the one thing the state can be the proudest of is the ingrained character and integrity of its people.

Bruce Springsteen's song....No Retreat, No Surrender....could easily be applied to the attitude of most West Virginians, as even their state motto can attest to ....Montani Semper Liberi .... Latin, translated means .... "Mountaineers Are Always Free."

And none says it better than the story behind nineteen year old Jessica Lynch.

Even before Jessica Lynch was taken prisoner in Iraq, a "West Virginia soldier" joke was rapidly making its way around the internet. Someone sent it to me, and for some reason I saved it. Today, I know the reason.

It "might" have been ... just a joke ..... and yet ... Jessica goes further in "fulfilling" it than anyone I've heard of in a long, long time.

It goes something like this.....

A large group of Iraqi soldiers, surrounded only by sand dunes and scrub brush, were marching through the desert.

Suddenly, from a small clump of bushes a few hundred yards away rang out one lone voice....

"One West Virginia soldier is better than ten Iraqi soldiers."

The Iraqi commander immediately dispatched ten soldiers into the area and watched as a gun battle ensued. None of his troops returned, but at least the voice was silenced.

Just as the group began to move forward, out rang the same voice again.....

"One West Virginia soldier is better than a hundred Iraqi soldiers."

The Iraqi commander stopped his troops and immediately dispatched one hundred of them into the brush in search of this arrogant U.S. soldier.

Again, a terrible gun battle raged for several minutes before all fell silent. Again, none of his soldiers returned, but he was confident that they had killed the American because "the voice" remained silent.

The commander had no more than given his men the order to advance when that familiar voice challenged him once more...

"One West Virginia soldier is better than a thousand Iraqi soldiers."

This was just too much! The commander selected one thousand of his finest shooting men and sent them into the bushes to destroy the taunting voice.

The worst gun battle yet began as soon as his men disappeared into the bushes. He was confident though and held his ground as the battle slowly subsided. And when there was no more shooting, he looked out across the sand to see one of his men, slumbling.... crawling.... staggering to his feet, obviously wounded, but slowly making his way back to him.

With his dying breath the Iraqi soldier warned his commander....

"Don't send any more .... it's a trap ....

there are two of them!!!!"

Following are a few news "clips and quotes" from a variety of sources. I ran across most of them on the internet while researching Jessica's story, and thought some were worth sharing with my readers:

April 3, 2003

FREE PRESS NEWS SERVICES

PFC. JESSICA LYNCH:

W. Va. Town Ready With Hugs, Tears For Safe POW

The skies were clear and warm enough Wednesday in Palestine, W. Va. But for the happiest guy in town, even rain wouldn't have dampened his spirits.

Greg Lynch was already making plans for what happens when his daughter gets home. He promised "one of the biggest bashes Wirt County, W. Va., has ever seen." his daughter, Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, was found alive Tuesday by U.S. special forces who stormed Saddam Hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. She had been one of the 15 soldiers listed as missing, captured or killed when a 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company convoy came under attack March 23. The 19-year-old supply clerk arrived Wednesday at a U.S. air base in Germany for treatment at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a U.S. military facility. Capt. Jay La Rossa, spokesman for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said Lynch had two broken legs and one broken arm, but was stable and in good condition:{It would later be learned that Jessica had actually been shot, and her injuries also included a head wound and a spine injury.}

For Jessica Lynch, home is Palestine, West Virginia, a farming town 70 miles north of Charleston, W. Va., with an unemployment rate of 15 percent -- one of the highest in the state. She enlisted during high school in the Army's delayed entry program, seeing the Army as a way to get an education, her family said. Last week, her father said he expected she would be found and would return home to pursue her dream of becoming a kindergarten teacher. "She's doing well right now, and that's all that matters," said her older brother, Greg Jr., who is also in the Army, based at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

A younger sister, Brandi, is a high school senior also in the Army's delayed entry program.

Already in Wirt County, there had been celebrations on word that Lynch was safe. Several miles from Palestine, in the county seat of Elizabeth, an impromptu parade of cars and fire trucks wound through town as people gathered along the sidewalks and set off firecrackers. "You would not believe the joys, cries, bawling, hugging, screaming, carrying on," said Pam Nicolais, a cousin of Lynch. "You just have to be here." And when she gets back, Gov. Bob Wise promised "one of the greatest homecomings this state has ever seen."

Meanwhile, Greg Lynch lavished praise and thanks on the U.S. troops who recovered his injured daughter. "We are just real proud that they risked their lives to go in and save our daughter, and we hope all the rest of the troops come home safely, too," he said in one of many interviews Wednesday.

Asked what he would say to her, he grinned and said:

"That we love her, and the little brat caused a big stir."

Private First Class Jessica Lynch is rescued

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM --

An image from video shown during a U.S. Central Command news conference April 2 shows the rescue of Private First Class Jessica Lynch on April 1. (Department of Defense image)

By ALLISON BARKER

Associated Press Writer

Published April 2, 2003

PALESTINE, W.Va. --

More than a week of worry over Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch quickly turned into a gleeful celebration with blaring sirens and fireworks as her family and friends rejoiced over her rescue in Iraq.

Lynch's family was told at about 6 p.m. Tuesday that the 19-year-old supply clerk with the 507th Maintenance Company had been rescued from an Iraqi hospital.

"I thought at first it was an April Fools' joke," said her father, Greg Lynch Sr. "I thought this was a cruel joke. I can put up with most things, but not that. They assured me, no, it's not a joke."

About 20 friends gathered for breakfast at Greg and Deadra Lynch's two-story, wood-framed house Wednesday to wait for word on Lynch's condition.

"They told us we would be receiving a call and we haven't got that yet," Lynch said. "We want to hear from her and know what condition she's in. Not knowing is the hardest part."

A photograph of the soldier was released showing her being carried on a stretcher.

Acting on a tip, U.S. special operations forces slipped behind enemy lines and seized Lynch from the Saddam Hospital, military officials said. They had to fight their way into and out of the building, but there were no coalition casualties, said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, a U.S. Central Command spokesman.

"We're just real proud they risked their lives to go in and save our daughter," Lynch's father said. "We hope all the rest of the troops come home safely."

President Bush was "full of joy for Jessica Lynch and her family," but also "mindful of the fact that we have others who are unaccounted for, who are missing in action, who are POWs and of course who have lost their lives," said spokesman Ari Fleischer.

"We're just a small community and we really rally around each other," said cousin Terri Edwards.

Eleven bodies--at least some of them believed to be Americans _ were found at the hospital where Lynch was rescued, a military spokesman said Wednesday. The bodies had not been identified.

"It's terrible, tragic," Greg Lynch said of the bodies. "We don't want to ever see a tragic deal like this. It's something we're going to have to face. It's going to happen."

Gov. Bob Wise promised "one of the greatest homecomings this state has ever seen."

"God watched over Jessica and her family. All West Virginians are rejoicing," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

"The Greatest Jeneration" / April 03, 2003

Pfc. Jessica Lynch Waged "Gun Battle"

To Keep From Being Captured

Spirited but hungry, rescued prisoner of war Pfc. Jessica Lynch arrived in Germany for treatment of two broken legs and bullet wounds reportedly suffered in a fierce gun battle she waged against her Iraqi captors.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the 19-year-old Army supply clerk shot several Iraqi soldiers during the March 23 ambush that resulted in her capture. She kept firing even after she had several gunshot wounds, finally running out of ammunition, the newspaper said, citing unidentified U.S. officials.

'She was fighting to the death,'' the Post quoted an official as saying. ''She did not want to be taken alive.''

Randy Coleman, a military spokesman in West Virginia, said Lynch had fractures in both legs, and her family said she also injured her arm. U.S. officials in Kuwait said earlier she had two broken legs, a broken arm and at least one gunshot wound.

According to the Post account, she was also stabbed when Iraqi forces closed in on her.

To help Lynch reach her goal of becoming a kindergarten teacher, West Virginia and Marshall universities and Liberty College in Lynchburg, Va., offered her competing packages Wednesday.

And West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise said the state would finance Lynch's education at a state public college or university of her choosing.

''She wants to become a teacher, and we are going to see that she becomes one,'' he said after visiting the Lynch family at home.

Betcha First Lady Laura Bush gets involved, too.

A school teacher herself and the national spokesperson for teaching, this will be music to her ears!

God bless Private Jessica and help her recover.

She has really been through a long, awful ordeal and will be recuperating for a long, long time.

But she is something else and I'm sure she will be able to Marshall that fighting spirit to get back on her feet someday soon.

I wish her only happiness in her life from now on, because she's darn well earned it.

And speaking of earning things, I think she should get at least one Medal for Bravery, if not several.

Private First Class Lynch, you give new meaning to the term "Bellicose Woman!"

From a message board comes the following comments:

April 03, 2003

Pfc Jessica Lynch was "fighting to the death"

It is still early yet, but early reports indicate that Pfc Lynch can hold her head high:

Pfc. Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Lynch, a 19-year-old supply clerk, continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds and watched several other soldiers in her unit die around her in fighting March 23, one official said. The ambush took place after a 507th convoy, supporting the advancing 3rd Infantry Division, took a wrong turn near the southern city of Nasiriyah.

"She was fighting to the death," the official said. "She did not want to be taken alive."

Posted by Martin Devon at April 03, 2003 02:01 AM

Jessica Lynch is the epitome of an American Hero and an American Soldier. The punishment she took and the torture she had to endure would have broken most people, even the "strongest" man, but it didn't break her. She took down as many of the enemy as she could and probably saved the lives of some of her comrades in the process. Anyone who doubts the truth of her courage and patriotism is tantamount to being a traitor. Thank you to Jessica and all the other brave soldiers, US and otherwise, fighting for freedom in Iraq!!! Jessica is the definition of an American we should all aspire to be. We, in Georgia, hope she will be awarded her due honors. She deserves a Purple Heart and the Congressional Medal of Honor. With soldiers like Jessica, there is no doubt we will win this war!!! Shayne Day - Alpharetta, Georgia

Posted by Shayne Day at April 5, 2003 10:55 AM

Maybe all these "brave" out-spoken, cowards,who think we do not have heroes are over there, even women, should volunteer to go to Iraq and spend a few days with our troops. Then let's see what they have to say after that. Or better yet, maybe they should team up with the Minister of (mis)Information in Iraq. They can all live in denial together! Jessica is just an outstanding example of the brave men and women in our military, putting their lives on the line for freedom. Yes, she will get her Purple Heart, because of the price she has paid for us all.

Posted by JL Lewis at April 5, 2003 11:33 AM

I think Jessica is an amazing example of what it means to be an American. I think it is heart-breaking that she is only 19 and she has been through more in the past week than most of us go through in a lifetime. I am unbelievably proud to say that she is a part of our country, our military, and now our lives. Jessica has been forever robbed of her childhood and her innocence. She has been to hell and back - but the important thing is that she came back! She never gave up on us just like we never gave up on her. I am truly honored to think there are people of her caliber in our world. Thank you, Jessica, for bringing our country closer together, and for re-instilling our faith. You are so strong, so dedicated, and so hopeful. Our whole nation is so proud of you! Thank you for showing the Iraqi's how tough you really are. You are one hell of a woman!

Posted by Alycia at April 5, 2003 06:16 PM

Hi Jessica: You go girl! I am an old retired Army veteran of 37 years and have 2 daughters, one of which spent a hitch in the U. S. Army. If she had to go thru what you did, I'd be both enraged and heartbroken! I'd like to get ahold of the SOB's that did this to you, for sure! My wife and I think you are a TRUE HERO and wish you a speedy and full recovery! From the interviews we have seen on TV so far, it looks as if you have a great family who will give you all of their love and support. I know you have ours! You're a scrapper, so keep a good attitude and HANG IN THERE! God Bless You! Our thoughts and prayers are with you. With Warmest Regards, Philo & Judy

Posted by Philo & Judy at April 6, 2003 02:00 AM

The Iraqi who saved Pfc. Jessica Lynch

The story behind the rescue mission

BY MARK MAZZETTI

Mark Mazzetti, U.S. News defense reporter, is reporting from the headquarters of the 1st Marine Expeditionary force, commanded by Lt. Gen. James Conway.

Conflict with Iraq:

Background information and reports from the front line.

MARINE COMBAT HEADQUARTERS, SOUTHERN IRAQ–

It was a single act of violence that forced Mohammed into action. Looking through clear glass into an operating room, he watched a solitary man dressed entirely in black slap Pfc. Jessica Lynch twice–first with his palm, then with the backside of his hand. Lying incapacitated in a bed at Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah, Lynch's head was bandaged and her arm was in a splint. She was going to die.

How brave she was, Mohammed thought. At that moment, he says, "my heart cut." He had come to Saddam Hospital because he had heard an American prisoner was there. His friend, a doctor at the hospital, told him that the Saddam Fedayeen had a young woman in captivity, and Mohammed wanted to see for himself. It is the hospital where his wife Iman works, so he had no problem moving through the corridors amid the more than 40 Fedayeen who had set up a headquarters inside.

After the Fedayeen had left Lynch's room, he walked in with his doctor friend to see her. She thought he was also a doctor, and he told her she was going to be fine. She smiled.

And then he did something remarkable. Leaving the hospital, he went to a Marine checkpoint on the outskirts of Nasiriyah with his arms in the air–knowing that marines shoot at those who don't raise their hands. He told them about the young American soldier in captivity, and about how the Fedayeen were standing guard by her door. Mohammed knew the risks to himself and his wife. He had witnessed the Fedayeen's brutality. Days before, he had seen a woman shot and dragged through Nasiriyah's streets. Her misdeed: waving to the crew inside a U.S. helicopter.

Mohammed never went back home, because his neighbors told him that Fedayeen had already been there–rummaging through his things and stealing his old Russian car. He sent his wife and daughter to stay with his father, but not before she drew for the Americans maps of the hospitals' floor plan–where the security cameras and exits were. Iman told the Americans about a basement under the hospital and about the roof of the building where a helicopter could land.

The helicopters landed early Wednesday morning, Black Hawk helicopters carrying commandos who stormed Saddam Hospital and rescued Lynch from captivity. Circling the skies above, an AC-130 gunship armed with a cannon that fires 1,800 rounds a minute trained its guns on the hospital's entrance. Quick to declare the raid a success, U.S. Central Command woke reporters up at 4 a.m. local time to announce that she had been rescued.

Sitting next to his wife and 6-year-old daughter at Marine headquarters, camouflage netting blocking out a starry night, Mohammed beamed with pride as he pawed a patch given to him by the CH-46 helicopter crew that transferred his family to the safety of this Marine base.

One day, he says, he would again like to meet the young woman whom he watched get slapped through the clear glass window.

West Virginia Hills

Oh, the West Virginia hills!

How majestic and how grand,

With their summits bathed in glory,

Like our Prince Immanuel's Land!

Is it any wonder then,

That my heart with rapture thrills,

As I stand once more with loved ones

On those West Virginia hills?

If o'er sea o'er land I roam,

Still I'll think of happy home,

And my friends among the West Virginia hills.

This page was done in honor of Pfc Jessica Lynch and all the soldiers and service people.

They remain in my prayers, as I'm sure they do most of the prayers of everyone else in our nation.

As I said when I began this page, I do not know Jessica Lynch, but that is not important. What is important is that I believe our nation has beheld a miracle .... in fact several miracles since this war began.

Tonight as I listened to a U.S. Chaplin ask God for his guidance and protection as his men prepared for yet another battle, and heard him refer to those men as the "Buffalo soldiers," I was reminded again of the vast amount of spiritual information that I have been provided prior to all this.

And I am again reminded that God works in very mysterious ways, and sometimes things happen that we could never imagine what it would take to accomplish such feats.

I've wondered for some time now what it would take to bring "big name" reporters to this area .... to West Virginia, to Wirt County in particular....

There is much talk about making a movie about Jessica Lynch and what she went through in Iraq. I sincerely hope they do. There are many stories that could be told of the people of West Virginia....and Ohio ... perhaps some day, some way.....they will be told.

My deepest admiration to Jessica, and all our troops.....

Bonnie

Top left, Sgt. Donald Walters, Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, Spc. James Kiehl, Pvt. Brandon Sloan. Bottom left, Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto, Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Mata, Pfc. Lori Piestewa, and Sgt. George Buggs, were members of the 507th Maintenance Company who were ambushed March 23 near Nasiriyah, Iraq. All eight were killed in action after nine bodies were found during the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch. A ninth body remains unidentified. Associated Press Photo

Montani Semper Liberi

Midi = Caissons

Posted/Updated: 4-07-03 / 1-17-05 / Sept. 2007 / March 2009 // BMW