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Jessica Lynch recently was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, a Purple Heart and the POW Medal. The BSM citation reads: “For exemplary courage under fire during combat operations to liberate Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Private First Class Lynch’s bravery and heart persevered while surviving in the ambush and captivity in An Nasiriya.”
A BSM for “bravery” and “surviving in the ambush and captivity”!
The Army’s official After-Action Report said she was in a vehicle that crashed while hauling butt trying to escape an enemy ambush. She was knocked unconscious and woke up at a nearby Iraqi hospital receiving special attention from some super-caring Iraqi doctors and nurses.
This was probably the first incident in U.S. military history in which an American soldier was awarded our country’s fourth-highest ground-fighting award for being conked out and off the air throughout a fight.
BSMs citing bravery typically read: “Moving his machine gun to a forward vantage point, he covered the advance of the infantry with a heavy volume of effective fire. Repeatedly exposing himself to a devastating small-arms automatic weapons and mortar barrage …” Or: “He voluntarily acted as point man and … when the platoon was fired upon … charged the enemy position … Through his courage, determination and devotion to duty, he saved his patrol from suffering casualties and captured a prisoner who later provided important information.”
It’s no big surprise that I’ve been bombarded by thousands of angry e-mails from vets protesting this assault on our country’s sacred award system.
“She wasn’t wounded in action, nor did she do anything to deserve a Bronze Star,” writes Arch McNeill. “We have hundreds of valiant soldiers here in the 3rd Division who far more deserve more than she received but in many cases didn’t receive anything.”
“I’m going to send all my awards back to the president and tell him where he can shove them,” says a genuine war hero, Jack Speed, a former Army Raider.
Trust me, the troops – past and present – are unhappy.
So I rang the Pentagon and asked Col. Jeff Keane, “Why the bravery bit?” Finally, when the standard Army propaganda drill wasn’t going down, Keane told me, ” It was for her bravery in the hospital.”
But all this flimflam wasn’t Jessica’s doing. She was used right from the first – a frail prop in the Pentagon’s public-relations campaign to sell the war to the American people and to encourage their daughters to join up and be heroes.
To keep the truth under wraps, the Army concocted another whopper: “She suffers from amnesia.”
A senior officer from V Corps (the unit that eventually awarded her the BSM), who has asked to remain anonymous, comments that there was “tremendous pressure right from the get-go to award Pvt. Lynch a Silver Star. But the high brass here concluded, ‘There was no evidence of heroism on her part,’ and told the pushers to back off.”
But when the propagandists conned the highly respected Washington Post into reporting on how Lynch was shot and stabbed but continued to kill Iraqis until her last round was spent, heroic stuff that would make Audie Murphy look like a slacker – which the Post then took several months to correct – other media were fast to pick up the fairy tale, and the Army was besieged by proud Americans demanding that Jessica be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Of course, many of us now know that a high-priced flack in Tommy Frank’s headquarters came up with this tall tale and then duped the Post.
According to retired Marine Lt. Col. Roger Charles: “There’s nothing they won’t stoop to spin. The Army needed a female hero to boost female recruiting and PR efforts, so they went and invented one.”
And that’s the root of the problem. The elevation of Jessica to Joan of Arc status is to recruit more women, even though thousands of female soldiers couldn’t deploy with their units to Iraq because of pregnancy, no sitters for single moms’ multiple kids and other problems.
And poor Jessica Lynch has become the unwitting poster girl for an Army of One that’s fast becoming an Army of Two – since apparently more than half of the women deployed to Iraq are now pregnant.