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Coalition Rescues U.S. Prisoner of War

Private Lynch, 19, of Palestine, W. Va., was found in the Saddam Hospital in Nasiriya, which was also being used as an Iraqi military facility, according to Central Command.

At the Wednesday CentCom briefing, Brig. Gen. Vince Brooks showed a videotape of her rescue by Special Operations and marine units. The general said Private Lynch is receiving medical care at an American military facility in the region, but he would not give any details on her condition or the location of where she is being treated.

General Brooks also said an Iraqi official captured at the Saddam Hospital led American forces to the remains of two people had been found in the morgue and those of nine others in a grave site outside Nasiriya. No identification has been made, General Brooks said, but additional forensic tests are being carried out.

Lynch was one of 12 U.S. soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Company attacked near Nasiriya, a Euphrates river crossing, after making a wrong turn during the war’s early days. The Defense Department had not previously listed Lynch as a POW, instead saying she was missing in action after the ambush.

Five of Lynch’s fellow soldiers from the 507th are thought to remain Iraqi hands — part of the seven U.S. troops the Defense Department has listed as prisoners of war.

Images of the five captured soldiers appeared on Iraqi television and other international media outlets shortly after their capture. During the broadcasts, the soldiers were asked questions and some were shown to have bandaged wounds. What appeared to be at least four dead bodies in U.S. uniforms were also visible during the broadcasts.

Shortly after the tapes aired, Brooks told reporters that coalition officials believed the missing soldiers were “in the custody of the irregular forces that conducted the ambush.”

Lynch’s family members said they were overjoyed at the news and were anxious to see the aspiring teacher return home to Palestine, some 70 miles north of Charleston.

“Everybody was really worried, normal concerns and everything like that,” cousin Sherri McFee told the Associated Press. “But we all remained hopeful and knew she would be home.”

West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, called the rescue “a miracle.”

“God watched over Jessica and her family,” he told the AP. “All West Virginians are rejoicing. … This is a testament to the amazing skill and courage of our military.”

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