This Day In History: Jessica Lynch Receives Hero Welcome
On July 22nd 2003, prisoner of war U.S. Army Private Jessica Lynch returned to her hometown of Palestine, W.V., after being rescued from an Iraqi hospital.
Five months prior, Lynch was a part of the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss, Texas. On March 23, 2003 the United States Army unit was ambushed by Iraqi forces, just days after the U.S. invaded Iraq. Lynch had been traveling in the attacked unit and was held captive with four other American soldiers.
While receiving treatment at an Iraqi hospital for multiple broken bones and injuries, Lynch was rescued by U.S. special forces who invaded the hospital. Lynch was then sent to Germany to complete her treatment.
Upon her return to the states, Lynch faced intense scrutiny in the face of her overnight celebrity, heroic story. Though several reports emerged questioning the facts about the aftermath of her capture, Lynch spoke up to state her inability to remember the details following the crash of the vehicle. Additionally, Lynch refuted claims stating that the staff at the Iraqi hospital mistreated her and resisted her rescue. Given the tense climate of these claims, the then U.S. Army Private charged the U.S. government with wrongfully exaggerating her story to boost recruitment for the Iraq war.
Shortly after her return home in August 2003, Lynch received a medical honorable discharge. Lynch went on to pen a memoir about her experience titled, "I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story." In April of 2007, Lynch testified before Congress that she had been falsely portrayed and that her story was intentionally misguiding to suit the propaganda needs of the U.S. Military, stating: "I am still confused 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 day were, in fact, legendary." She then added, "The truth of war is not always easy to hear but is always more heroic than the hype."
Photo Credit: RICK BOWMER/AP, SUSAN WALSH/AP