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Family Won't Discuss POW's Rescue

May 30, 2003|From Associated Press

PALESTINE, W.Va. — PALESTINE, W. Va. -- Friends and family of former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch avoided talking Thursday about reports that U.S. troops made her rescue from an Iraqi hospital unnecessarily dramatic and that the Pentagon overstated the risks.

"The politics of war never enter our minds. Our big concern is Jessi is alive," said Lew Peck, a Wirt County deputy sheriff and family friend. "The politics, if they want to fight it out on TV, I don't care."

Lynch's father, Greg, would not talk about the details of her ordeal at a news conference Thursday intended to thank volunteers who have spent the last seven weeks remodeling his family's home.

"We're really not supposed to talk about that subject," her father said. "It's still an ongoing investigation and we can't talk about nothing like that."

He later said nobody had specifically told the family not to discuss the case.

Lynch's sister Brandi read a statement that said her sister considers her rescuers heroes.

"She sees herself as nothing more than a soldier who was doing her duty," Brandi said. "She is more concerned about the welfare of the other soldiers, especially those in the 507th."

Lynch, who most likely was injured during an ambush when her vehicle was hit by a grenade and rolled over, has been recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where she is learning to walk again.

"We're just focusing on her improvement and therapy and getting the right foods into her so her bones can grow back," Greg Lynch said.

Iraqi staff at the Nasiriyah hospital where Lynch was rescued April 1 told Associated Press that there was no Iraqi military presence and no resistance from medical personnel when U.S. troops carried away the soldier in the dead of night with helicopter and armored vehicle backup. Doctors have said Lynch's rescuers rejected offers of a master key, choosing to break down doors with their guns drawn.

U.S. military officers said rescuers didn't know Iraqi troops had left the hospital and had to storm in ready for any circumstance. They added that U.S. troops outside the hospital were fired on and fighting was still going on elsewhere in the city.

Lynch, a supply clerk and a private first class, became one of the best-known figures of the war with Iraq after she was captured when her unit was ambushed March 23 in southern Iraq after making a wrong turn. She suffered multiple broken bones, 11 of her comrades were killed and five other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were taken prisoner.

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