Private Jessica Lynch became an icon of the war, and the story
of her capture by the Iraqis and her rescue by US special forces became
one of the great patriotic moments of the conflict. But her story is one
of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived.
Private Lynch, a 19-year-old army clerk from Palestine, West
Virginia, was captured when her company took a wrong turning just outside
Nasiriya and was ambushed. Nine of her comrades were killed and Private
Lynch was taken to the local hospital, which at the time was swarming with
Fedayeen. Eight days later US special forces stormed the hospital, capturing
the "dramatic" events on a night vision camera. They were said
to have come under fire from inside and outside the building, but they made
it to Lynch and whisked her away by helicopter.
Dr a-Houssona found no bullet wounds
Reports claimed that she had stab and bullet wounds and that she had been
slapped about on her hospital bed and interrogated. But Iraqi doctors in
Nasiriya say they provided the best treatment they could for the soldier
in the midst of war. She was assigned the only specialist bed in the hospital
and one of only two nurses on the floor.
Dr a-Houssona found no bullet wounds
"There was no [sign of] shooting, no bullet inside her body, no
"I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken
thigh and a dislocated ankle," said Dr Harith a-Houssona, who looked
after her. "There was no [sign of] shooting, no bullet inside her body,
no stab wound - only road traffic accident. They want to distort the picture.
I don't know why they think there is some benefit in saying she has a bullet
Dr Harith a-Houssona
Witnesses told us that the special forces knew that the Iraqi
military had fled a day before they swooped on the hospital.
Dr Anmar Uday
Dr Uday was surprised by the manner of the rescue
"We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military, there were
no soldiers in the hospital," said Dr Anmar Uday, who worked at the
"It was like a Hollywood film. They cried 'go, go, go',
with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions.
They made a show for the American attack on the hospital - action movies
like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan."
Ambulance Attempts Return of Pvt. Lynch; Americans
There was one more twist. Two days before the snatch squad arrived, Harith
had already arranged to deliver Jessica to the Americans in an ambulance.
But as the ambulance, with Private Lynch inside, approached a checkpoint
American troops opened fire, forcing it to flee back to the hospital. The
Americans had almost killed their prize catch.
"Some brave souls put their lives
on the line to make this happen"...
General Vincent Brooks
When footage of the rescue was released, General Vincent Brooks,
US spokesman in Doha, said: "Some brave souls put their lives on the
line to make this happen, loyal to a creed that they know that they'll never
leave a fallen comrade."
The American strategy was to ensure the right television footage
by using embedded reporters and images from their own cameras, editing the
film themselves. The Pentagon had been influenced by Hollywood producers
of reality TV and action movies, notably the man behind Black Hawk Down,
Jerry Bruckheimer. Bruckheimer advised the Pentagon on the primetime television
series "Profiles from the Front Line", that followed US forces
in Afghanistan in 2001. That approached was taken on and developed on the
field of battle in Iraq.
As for Private Lynch, her status as cult hero is stronger
than ever. Internet auction sites list Jessica Lynch items, from an oil
painting with an opening bid of $200 to a $5 "America Loves Jessica
Lynch" fridge magnet.
But doctors now say she has no recollection of the whole episode
and probably never will.
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