In his attempt to side-step the political minefield of questions surrounding the POW experience and subsequent Special Ops rescue of his daughter, Jessica, Greg Lynch may have fueled the debate with his allusions to a gag order placed on the family.
“We’re really not supposed to talk about that subject. It’s still under investigation,” Greg Lynch Sr. told reporters this afternoon at a news conference outside the family home in Palestine, W.Va., when asked what Jessica has relayed to them about her experience.
Later, Lynch contradicted himself and said, “nobody has told us not to talk about this,” but then consistently refused to provide details.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the Army is investigating the Iraqi ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company that resulted in nine dead soldiers and six prisoners of war, including then-19-year-old Pfc. Lynch.
“The Pentagon never released an account of what happened to Lynch because it didn’t have an account. She never told us,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told CNN.
In the absence of an official account, conflicting reports have surfaced as to the nature of the Army supply clerk’s injuries, her treatment as a POW and the handling of the rescue operation on the part of the military. As WorldNetDaily reported, many suspect spin behind her story.
The dramatic footage of the Army Rangers and Navy SEALs swarming the Nasiriyah hospital and carrying Lynch out on a stretcher provided a proud moment for the military and America. The
subsequent surge of patriotism muted the catcalls of the anti-war naysayers.
Lynch during her rescue from Iraqi captivity
The Washington Post reported Lynch “sustained multiple gunshot wounds” and also was stabbed while she “fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers … firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition.” The paper cited an unnamed U.S. military official as saying “she was fighting to the death.”
The front-page March 23 story was picked up by news outlets all over the world, but subsequent reports indicated she was neither shot nor stabbed. Treating physicians at the Nasiriyah hospital described her injuries as consistent with a traffic accident.
Two Pentagon officials in interviews with the Washington Times also cast doubt on the Post report of Lynch “fighting to the death.” The officials said all evidence suggests that Lynch’s truck crashed in the chaos of the ambush. She suffered several bone fractures and was in no position to put up a fight, the officials said.
The Post report was later all but retracted by the paper’s ombudsman, and military advocates asserted the story was planted to skew the simmering debate over women serving in combat roles in the military.
Lynch is undergoing occupational and physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for a spinal injury and a variety of fractures. Various reports, citing military investigators and treating physicians, claimed she had no memory of what happened between the ambush on March 23, when her convoy took a wrong turn in the desert, and waking up in the Iraqi hospital in Nasiriya where she was rescued eight days later.
The Lynches dispelled the reports Jessica suffered amnesia.
“There really wasn’t no amnesia problem,” Greg Lynch said. “Her memory is as good as it was when she was at home.”
One reporter asked the family whether Jessica’s injuries “being used to promote the war” made them angry.
“We’re not concerned about any of that. We’re just focusing on her recovery,” responded Dee Lynch, Jessica’s mother.
When asked for comment, the couple appeared unaware of a BBC report that implied the daring rescue operation was staged and overblown to serve a political agenda. The BBC’s Correspondent program described the story of the rescue as “one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived.” It claimed the U.S. military knew there were no Iraqi forces guarding the Nasiriya hospital, and quoted a local doctor saying that the troops used blank rounds to “make a show” of the operation.
“It was like a Hollywood film. They cried ‘go, go, go’, with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions,” said Dr Anmar Uday. “They made a show for the American attack on the hospital – action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan.”
The Pentagon derided the allegations as “void of all facts and absolutely ridiculous.” Officials said no blanks were used and that troops followed standard procedures employed when there is a threat of encountering hostile forces.
“We don’t want to take unnecessary risk. We do make sure that when we exercise military force we use the right resources, sufficient to get the job done. It is a decision made by the commander on the ground,” Pentagon spokesman Whitman told CNN.
The Lynch family, including Jessica’s younger sister Brandy, held the press conference to thank well wishers and the hundreds of volunteers and businesses that donated time and resources to build an addition onto the Lynch home to better accomodate Jessica when she gets released from the hospital.
Her parents said they do not know when that will be, but that she is “improving daily.” Although the addition and the rest of the house were made fully wheelchair accessible, the Lynches said they expect Jessica to make a full recovery in time.
The couple returned home from D.C. to attend Brandy’s high school graduation and plan to return shortly to Jessica’s bedside. They described the now-20-year-old as “fully aware of what’s going on” as far as the American public considering her a hero.
Lynch in Sept. 2000 family photo
“She doesn’t consider herself a hero,” Greg Lynch said. “She feels she’s no different than any other soldier. She was just doing her job.”
The Lynches said Jessica still intends to become a kindergarten teacher.