Jessica Lynch gets hero’s welcome 2003
On this day in 2003, U.S. Army Private Jessica Lynch, a prisoner-of-war who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital, receives a hero’s welcome when she returns to her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia. The story of the 19-year-old supply clerk, who was captured by Iraqi forces in March 2003, gripped America; however, it was later revealed that some details of Lynch’s dramatic capture and rescue might have been exaggerated.
Lynch, who was born April 26, 1983, was part of the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss, Texas. On March 23, 2003, just days after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Lynch was riding in a supply convoy when her unit took a wrong turn and was ambushed by Iraqi forces near Nasiriya. Eleven American soldiers died and four others besides Lynch were captured.
Lynch, who sustained multiple broken bones and other injuries when her vehicle crashed during the ambush, was taken to an Iraqi hospital. On April 1, she was rescued by U.S. Special Forces who raided the hospital where she was being held. They also recovered the bodies of eight of Lynch’s fellow soldiers. Lynch was taken to a military hospital in Germany for treatment and then returned to the United States.
Lynch’sstory garnered massive media attention and she became an overnight celebrity. Various reports emerged about Lynch’s experience, with some news accounts indicating that even after Lynch was wounded during the ambush she fought back against her captors. However, Lynch later stated that she had been knocked unconscious after her vehicle crashed and couldn’t remember the details of what had happened to her. She also said she had not been mistreated by the staff at the Iraqi hospital and they put up no resistance to her rescue. Critics–and Lynch herself–charged the U.S. government with embellishing her story to boost patriotism and help promote the Iraq war.
In August 2003, Lynch received a medical honorable discharge. She collaborated on a book about her experience, I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, which was released later that year. In April 2007, Lynch testified before Congress that she had falsely been portrayed as a “little girl Rambo” and the U.S. military had hyped her story for propaganda reasons. According to Lynch: “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 added: “The truth of war is not always easy to hear but is always more heroic than the hype.”
(More Events on This Day in History)
- 1779 Battle of Minisink Ford, New York
- 2002 California governor signs new auto emissions legislation
- 1864 Battle of Atlanta continues
- 1987 Gorbachev accepts ban on intermediate-range nuclear missiles
- 1923 Dillinger joins the Navy in an attempt to avoid prosecution
- 1991 Cannibal and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is caught
- 1993 Kaskaskia is inundated by flood of ’93
- 1916 The Preparedness Day bombing
- 1933 Wiley Post flies solo around the world
- 1934 Dillinger gunned down
- 2003 Qusay and Uday Hussein killed
- 2005 March of the Penguins debuts
- 1598 The Merchant of Venice is entered on the Stationers’ Register
- 1977 Elvis Costello’s debut album, My Aim Is True, is released
- 1793 Alexander Mackenzie reaches the Pacific Ocean
- 1862 Lincoln tells his cabinet about Emancipation Proclamation
- 1990 Greg LeMond wins second Tour De France
- 1967 Taylor and Clifford begin tour of the Pacific region
- 1968 North Vietnamese condemn Honolulu Conference
World War I
- 1916 Preparedness Day bombing in San Francisco
World War II
- 1942 Deportations from Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka begin