Lynch Family Overjoyed by Rescue
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2003 Joy and relief filled the Gregory and Deadra Lynch household in Palestine, W.V., today after learning overnight that their daughter, 19- year-old Jessica Lynch, an Army private first class, had been rescued from captivity in Iraq.
"I made me feel wonderful to see that she is safe in a hospital," Gregory Lynch Sr. told members of the press. He said the family had kept their faith and hope "soaring high" during the nine days Jessica was a prisoner of war.
The family had held evening prayer meetings that boost their morale. "We feel it really brought the Lord in closer," he said, "and Jessie could definitely feel she was being prayed for."
Jessica's mother, Deadra, said news of the rescue was "so exciting," it gave her a "whole different adrenaline feeling. It was wonderful."
Jessica's brother, Gregory Jr., another Army private first class who had enlisted the same day as his sister, also expressed his relief and gratitude. "It brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart to know that she's safe," he said.
"She's doing well right now, and that's all that matters," he added. "I'd like to thank (the rescue team) a great deal. They're looking at it as doing their job, but from a family point of view not an Army point view we're grateful that they performed their duty well, and they went in and rescued my sister and brought her home safely."
U.S. Central Command officials said civilian-clothed Iraqi forces ambushed the convoy Jessica was riding in when it took a wrong turn around Nasiriyah. She is assigned to the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, based at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Based on intelligence reports, military officials launched a rescue effort April 1. Army Rangers, Air Force combat controllers, Navy SEALs and Marines participated in the mission.
They discovered that Lynch was being held at the Saddam Hospital a facility used by the regime as a military post, Brooks said. The rescue team also found 11 bodies at the hospital. Two were found in the morgue, and nine others were buried in a nearby graveyard.
The world watched as news networks broadcast night-vision video of Jessica's rescue. One combat team member appeared to hold her hand as rescuers carried her by stretcher to a waiting helicopter. She was later transferred to a U.S. military medical facility in Germany.
At first, Gregory Sr. noted, the family only knew Jessica was missing in action. When they learned she was captured, he said, "It was a big shock. That really hit hard."
When the call came that Jessica had been rescued, her father said he first thought it was an April Fool's Day prank. When the family realized it was true, he said everybody in town could probably hear the screaming and shouting that was going on.
Of the rescue squad, he said, "It takes a brave bunch of people to risk their own lives to go in and free a hostage."
The Lynch family, who hadn't yet spoken to Jessica, passed a message to her and the world.
"We love her," Gregory Sr. said. "The little brat's caused a big stir in this town."
"I love her, and she's been so badly missed," Deadra said, adding that she expects her daughter will want to complete her enlistment.
"Jessie is strong, and I support her 100 percent," she said. "She's not a quitter."