Skip to comments.The Story of Jessica Lynch What really happened in Nasiriyah.
Posted on 04/25/2007 5:48:58 AM PDT by Kaslin
TODAY, THE HOUSE Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chaired by Henry Waxman (D-CA) conducted a hearing into "misleading military statements" that followed the death of Pat Tillman and the ordeal of Jessica Lynch. I cannot speak of the Pat Tillman incident, but I can speak to the story of Jessica Lynch.
I spent more than two years of my life studying the battle of An Nasiriyah. I read thousands of pages of government reports and personally interviewed nearly one-hundred of the participants of the battle, including four survivors of the 507th Maintenance Company's ambush, several Marines who came upon the scene of the ambush, a young Marine who worked in the regimental intelligence shop and was responsible for the safekeeping of Jessica's personal effects, and several of the soldiers, sailors, and Marines who were actually involved in her rescue. The results of my research were published last year in Marines in the Garden of Eden.
Following her rescue, unsubstantiated reports abounded, the media made a variety of assertions: Jessica Lynch was a pretty teenage girl who had been subjected to the ravages of an unjust war. She had been sent into battle with inadequate equipment and protection. After taking a wrong turn, Iraqis feigning surrender had ambushed her unit. Yet, she bravely fought off the enemy until she could resist no longer. Because of the incompetence of the leadership in Washington, D.C., she had been taken prisoner by evil Iraqis who did unspeakable things to her.
This was the type of story that had "legs." Every news producer in America salivated when they read the first copy. They knew that their ratings would skyrocket when the story of this fragile American girl was told. This was the type of story that would go down in history. There was only one problem--most of the story wasn't true.
The 507th Maintenance Company didn't simply make a wrong turn. Iraqis did not feign surrender. Lynch's unit had machine guns, rocket and grenade launchers and, while their M-16s were old, the reason most failed was that they were improperly maintained.
America's news media did not seem to care. They repeatedly ran every story they could about America's new princess-prisoner. At the same time, the U.S. military was trying to play down the story. They knew Jessica was being held captive and they immediately started plans for her rescue. Many Iraqis had come to Marines and embedded reporters to tell of a female soldier being held captive in a Nasiriyah hospital. Kerry Sanders of NBC was asked to not speak of Jessica's captivity. The commanders in the field feared that if word leaked of her captivity, she would be moved, or worse, before they could get to her.
Here is what really happened in Nasiriyah:
At midnight on March 22/23, the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Marine Regiment was preparing to move into Nasiriyah to secure the bridges over the Euphrates River and the Saddam Canal. They had stopped for a short rest only hours earlier at the intersection of Highway 1 (a major Iraqi highway) and a small two-lane road. This Cloverleaf was a modern freeway intersection with on and off ramps to/from the six-lane highway.
South of Nasiriyah, the U.S. Army was using Highway 1 as its ONLY supply route through Southern Iraq. Several Marines described the Highway as looking like I-95 on a Friday evening. The thoroughfare was jammed with thousands of supply vehicles. To the Marines' amazement, the Army vehicles all had their headlights on. In the Iraqi night, a stream of American vehicles could be seen off to the horizon.
The 507th Maintenance Company commander had accurate maps, a computer disk with his orders and more maps, and a handheld GPS device. He could plainly see the convoy on Highway 1. The 507th Maintenance Company was behind schedule and, by the time they reached the Cloverleaf, the Marines were moving up the two-lane road to assume their attack positions. The Marines were hoping for capitulation but expecting a fight.
Lynch's company commander led his vehicles through the intersection and raced past the heavily-armed Marine mechanized infantry battalion. He led his company up the deserted road, over a railroad bridge, which was defended by a company of dug-in Iraqi tanks, through an Iraqi military checkpoint, over the Euphrates River Bridge, through a four-kilometer stretch of the inner city of An Nasiriyah, over the Saddam Canal Bridge, through the northern outskirts of the city, past an abandoned military headquarters, and then past the operational military headquarters. Finally, he decided to turn around.
On his trip north, he had awakened every Iraqi with a gun. At that point, the sun was just starting to rise. The 507th's flight to safety was fraught with gunfire. The company commander got lost again and as his beleaguered convoy was forced to turn around a second time. The vehicle that Brandon Sloan and Sergeant Donald Walters were riding in got stuck in the sand. Sloan jumped from the vehicle into another truck; Walters began to lay down covering fire as his comrades turned their vehicles and fled to safety. In the confusion, Walters was left fifteen miles behind enemy lines.
Sergeant Donald Walters was the Real Hero
Walters resisted for as long as he could. He probably "fought to his last bullet." He was captured alive and taken to an Iraqi stronghold and later murdered. When I last spoke to my source, a criminal investigation was still under way. Our government was helping the Iraqis collect evidence against Walters' murderers in an ongoing effort to bring them to justice.
Meanwhile, the rapidly shrinking convoy raced south. Several kilometers south of the Euphrates River, Shoshana Johnson's flatbed semi-tractor trailer jackknifed and Lori Piestewa could not react fast enough. Her Humvee slammed into the rear of the jackknifed truck, instantly killing the company First Sergeant, Robert Dowdy. Lynch and the other two occupants in the trucks' bed (George Buggs and Edward Anguiano) were tossed about like rag dolls, and Piestewa was critically injured. She and Lynch were pulled from the vehicle and taken to the Tykar Military Hospital, which was only a kilometer or two from the scene of the crash. Piestewa succumbed to her wounds soon thereafter, leaving Lynch alone and near death.
As Jessica lay bleeding in the Iraqi hospital, the Marines were moving up the road to secure the same two bridges the 507th had first blundered over then fled back across. When the first Marine vehicles crested the Euphrates River Bridge, all hell broke lose. The Marines of 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment became heavily engaged with an ever-increasing enemy. They battled the Iraqis for the rest of the day, losing eighteen Marines during the fight. The battle was chaotic and communications were terrible. The Regimental and Brigade headquarters had extreme difficulty keeping up with the number of Marine casualties. At one point during the fighting, the Commanding General and the Regimental Commander thought that over one hundred Marines had been lost. By sunset, the Marines had achieved their objectives. The two bridges were in their control and still standing. There was little time to check on the 507th casualties and vehicles. The Marines had their hands full with sorting out their own casualty count.
During the battle, the 2nd Battalion of the 8th Marine Regiment had moved up behind 1/2 to secure the southern bridge over the Euphrates River. They were involved in skirmishes with the enemy all night and by morning Iraqi civilians were venturing up on the bridge to tell the Marines of a young female soldier being held captive in Nasiriyah's hospital. The Tykar military hospital was within eyesight of the bridge, just south of the river. So, the Marines turned their attention toward the hospital.
Shortly after sunrise, an Iraqi in a white lab coat came out of the hospital and asked to speak with the American commander. He gave 2/8's Fox Company commander a letter, which he said was from the head of the hospital. He told the Marine captain that they were treating patients and wanted nothing to do with the fight. As the morning progressed, more and more civilians came up to the Marines to tell them about Jessica's captivity.
Finally, a Marine infantry company was sent to search the hospital. As they approached, gunfire erupted. The hospital was an armed camp. The main buildings had sandbagged fighting positions on their roofs and fighters in nearly every window. A fighting trench completely surrounded the hospital. It took an entire Marine Infantry Battalion more than an hour to silence the Iraqi gunners and three more days to completely clear the hospital of the Iraqi fighters. As it turns out, it was Chemical Ali's headquarters, complete with hundreds of gas masks, protective chemical suits and even a torture chamber.
Some of Jessica's uniform was found in that hospital, along with pieces of other soldier's uniforms. More of Jessica's uniform and some of her personal effects were found hidden in a nearby farmhouse. Jessica had been at the Tykar Hospital, but she had been moved to the main hospital in downtown Nasiriyah sometime during the first day of fighting.
The story of the Marines' battle to secure Nasiriyah is an amazing saga that everyone should read. The battle was filled with individual acts of heroism. A Distinguished Flying Cross, two Navy Crosses, a handful of Silver Stars, and a larger handful of Bronze Stars were awarded for valor in the battle. Sergeant Donald Walters was awarded a Silver Star, as well. Donald was a sandy-haired young man. Some believe that it was an intercepted Iraqi radio report of his ordeal that was somehow attributed to Jessica Lynch, the only blonde female in the unit.
I do not recollect hearing an official military press release stating that Jessica "fought to the last bullet," but I do remember every news channel broadcasting the story day and night for at least a week. No one, absolutely no one, knew what happened to Jessica, for she was the only survivor of her vehicle and she lay close to death for a week in the Saddam Hospital in downtown Nasiriyah.
The military soon knew she was in the Saddam Hospital and quickly began planning her rescue from the center of a war-torn city. While the Special Forces planned the rescue, the 2nd Marine Regiment fought for days to secure the city. Fanatics continued to resist. At the same time, civilians continued to approach Marines and newsmen to tell of Jessica's captivity behind enemy lines.
The commanders of the rescue mission wanted no repeat of the failed attempt to rescue hostages in Iran. They would have been remiss had they not planned for every contingency. Remember, the Marines had fought a bloody battle to secure the Tykar Hospital and armed fanatics continued to roam the streets of southern Nasiriyah, attacking Marines at every opportunity.
Nasiriyah was a very dangerous place. So, a massive rescue operation was planned. If the Iraqis were setting a trap, the rescuers would be prepared. Their goal was to rescue a frightened nineteen-year-old soldier and bring her home safely. The rescue plan, diversion and all, was expertly executed. Lynch's shattered body was on a helicopter headed for much-need medical attention within seven minutes of the first American boots hitting the ground in the downtown hospital complex.
This was the first successful rescue of an American POW since WWII. It was precisely executed with not a single casualty inside the hospital, American or Iraqi. As it turns out, the last of the resistance had fled only hours before the rescue, but that doesn't change a thing. Weeks after the rescue, there were still armed Iraqis shooting at Marines. The rescue force needed to be prepared for a fight and they were. Apparently, some Iraqis complained that the rescue force yelled at them. I guess our troops should have been more polite.
It seems to me that Congressman Waxman and his committee should be investigating how the media perverted the story to build its ratings. It is appalling how little regard some of today's journalists have for the truth. CENTCOM immediately announced Jessica's rescue. It was good news. But, it was the American media that ran the 15-second video of her rescue over and over and over and over again. It was the American media that turned her rescue into a propaganda event. And they did it for the worst of reasons.
Richard S. Lowry is the author of Marines in the Garden of Eden. He is currently working on his next book, The Surge, which will tell of General Petraeus' attempt to win the peace in Iraq.
“Maybe she did herself. “
Doubt it, but its possible.
Keep women the hell out of combat units or anywhere near where combat may be a danger. That includes flying ,driving truck or on a navy ship.
Women dont belong serving beside men in the military.
Nostralitis Waxwoman is a class act.
By “did it”, I am referring to a visit to a hair dresser, and perhaps to an upscale store for a few new outfits.
“By did it, I am referring to a visit to a hair dresser, and perhaps to an upscale store for a few new outfits.”
You have a greater interest in this than I do.
IS that the brother who is/was in the military?
Jessica Lynchs testimony was short and consisted of a statement she had prepared ahead of time.
The PDF of her statement is available at:
http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20070424110022.pdf. Excerpts from her statement follow:
I believe this is not a time for finger pointing. It is time for the truth, the whole truth, versus misinformation and hype.
I have repeatedly said, when asked, that if the stories about me helped inspire our troops and rally a nation, then perhaps there was some good. However, I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary. People like Lori Piestewa and First Sergeant Dowdy, who picked up fellow soldiers in harms way. Or people like Patrick Miller and Sergeant Donald Walters, who actually fought until the very end.
The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideals for heroes and they dont need to be told elaborate tales.
What do you think? Henry Nostril Waxman hinoring the troops is an oxymoron
It seems to me that Congressman Waxman and his committee should be investigating how the media perverted the story to build its ratings. It is appalling how little regard some of today’s journalists have for the truth.
I’m waiting for this to happen. I figure it will be about 15 minutes after frost warnings in hell.
honoring, not hinering
Thank you for posting! I have been in dire spirits since “Senator” Reid decided to wave his white flag the other day. This story shows how awesome our troops are, no matter how bad the anti-war jerks want to show them as incompetent, scared, ill-prepared, unprofessional, torturers and cowards. The MSM’s trumped up stories and LACK of coverage since the fall of Baghdad has been awful. This story gave me new energy.
Slow day in the office so far.
Pat Tillman got the Silverstar posthumously. Should his family return it?
What happened to the officer leading her unit? It seems that he/she was behaving irresponsibly.
If I recall correctly, yes she was
It was a he, and he lead them into the attack with his stupidity.
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