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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 3, 2003

'She was fighting to the death'

By Susan Schmidt and Vernon Loeb
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Pfc. Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday.

U.S. Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch arrived yesterday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where she is being treated at the U.S. military hospital.

Associated Press

Lynch, a 19-year-old supply clerk, continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds and watched several other soldiers in her unit die around her in fighting March 23, one official said.

The ambush took place after a 507th convoy, supporting the advancing 3rd Infantry Division, took a wrong turn near the southern city of Nasiriyah.

"She was fighting to the death," the official said. "She did not want to be taken alive."

Lynch also was stabbed when Iraqi forces closed in on her position, the official said, noting that initial intelligence reports indicated that she had been stabbed to death. No official gave any indication yesterday, however, that Lynch's wounds had been life-threatening.

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Several officials cautioned that the precise sequence of events is still being determined, and further information would emerge as Lynch is debriefed.

Reports thus far are based on battlefield intelligence, they say, which comes from monitored communications and from Iraqi sources in Nasiriyah whose reliability has yet to be assessed. Pentagon officials said they had heard "rumors" of Lynch's heroics but had no confirmation.

There was no immediate indication whether Lynch's fellow soldiers killed in the ambush were among 11 bodies found by Special Operations forces who rescued Lynch at Saddam Hussein Hospital in Nasiriyah. U.S. officials said that at least some of the bodies are believed to be those of U.S. servicemen. Two of the bodies were found in the hospital's morgue, and nine were found in shallow graves on the grounds outside.

Seven soldiers from the 507th are still listed as missing in action following the ambush. Five others, four men and a woman, were taken captive following the attack. Video footage of the five has been shown on Iraqi television, along with grisly pictures of at least four soldiers killed in the battle.

Lynch, of Palestine, W.Va., arrived yesterday at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.

Pfc. Jessica Lynch was rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital.
She was in "stable" condition, suffering from broken arms and a broken leg, in addition to the gunshot and stab wounds, sources said. Victoria Clarke, a Pentagon spokesperson, gave no specifics of her condition, telling reporters only that Lynch is "in good spirits and being treated for injuries."

But one military officer briefed on her condition said that while Lynch was conscious and able to communicate with the U.S. commandos who rescued her, "she was pretty messed up."

Lynch spoke by telephone with her parents last night, who said she was in good spirits, but hungry and in pain.

"Talk about spunk!" said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, who had been briefed on the rescue by military officials. "She just persevered. It takes that and a tremendous faith that your country is going to come and get you."

One Army official said that it could be some time before she is reunited with her family, since experience with those taken prisoner since the Vietnam War indicates that soldiers held in captivity need time to "decompress" and reflect on their ordeal with the help of medical professionals.