Jessica Lynch: A West Virginia War Hero

Jessica Dawn Lynch was born on April 26, 1983, in Palestine, West Virginia. Jessica saw joining the Army as an opportunity to see the world. So, after graduating from Wirt County High School in 2001, she enlisted in the U.S. Army. On September 19, 2001, she headed to South Carolina for basic training.

Lynch’s training began in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Despite the attack, Lynch never imagined she’d see combat. She was stationed in Fort Bliss as a supply clerk and planned on being in the Army for a few years then following her dream to be a kindergarten teacher. The start of the Iraq War, however, changed everything for Lynch and thousands of other soldiers.

Lynch Is Sent To Iraq

In March of 2003 Lynch, a Private First Class, was serving as a Unit Supply Specialist in Iraq. On March 23, her company was led directly into enemy territory by faulty navigation equipment. They became embroiled in a 90-minute battle that resulted in the death of 11 American soldiers and an injured Lynch becoming a prisoner of war. Lynch was held captive over the next week at a hospital in Nasiriyah. US forces were tipped off as to Lynch’s whereabouts by an Iraqi, who informed them she had been tortured and had a severe head injury but was still alive. U.S. troops stormed the facility and were able to rescue her.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lynch Is Rescued By US Troops

The world was captivated by her dramatic rescue. To see the video of her rescue click here. Lynch flashing a smile for the camera during her rescue quickly made her a media darling. Lynch flashing a smile for cameras as she was rescued, spread quickly through news outlets and thrust the young soldier into the limelight.

Her Rescue Was A First

He rescued garnered so much attention because it was the first successful rescue of an American prisoner since World War II and it was the very first rescue of a woman. Somewhere along the line a lot of the stories about how Lynch became a prisoner of war became distorted. In April of 2007, she testified in front of Congress that she had not fired her weapon because she was knocked unconscious and severely injured when her vehicle crashed. Lynch told the media that she wasn’t a hero, but instead a survivor.

After being rescued, Lynch was taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. On April 5, Lynch’s family flew to Germany and were reunited with her. Two days before her families arrival Lynch had undergone back surgery to fix vertebrae that were putting pressure on her spine. She underwent several surgeries to stabilize her fractures.

Her Time In Iraq Is Detailed In a Biography Written By Rick Bragg

A biography was written about Lynch’s ordeal by Pulitzer Prize Winning journalist Rick Bragg. The book titled “I Am A Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story” shared graphic details of Lynch’s time in captivity.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lynch Is Awarded Three Medals

After arriving home, Lynch was awarded the Bronze Star, Prisoner of War, and Purple Heart medals on July 22, 2003. When she arrived in West Virginia she was greeted by her fiancee Army Sergeant Ruben Contreras and thousands of West Virginia residents. Lynch was honorably discharged on August 27, 2003.

Today Lynch works as a Fifth-grade teacher. Jessica’s story may have originally been mistold, but her story is one of courage and integrity, and West Virginia is honored to call her a Mountaineer.

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