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Famous Iraq POW war veteran to begin teaching career

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 16th, 2011
Catholic Online (

Jessica Lynch is now a proud mother, set on receiving her teaching credential shortly. The majority of the world recognizes her as the 19-year-old girl on the stretcher who was rescued after being a prisoner of war in Iraq. The image galvanized the American public that women, many in their teens, were taking part in the war effort there.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lynch was an Army supply clerk that had been captured along with five others after the 507th Maintenance Company came under attack in Nasiriyah on March 23, 2003. Eleven of Lynch's fellow soldiers died.

Today, Lynch is as a student teacher at the same elementary school she attended in Wirt County. While her legs were badly damaged in her ordeal, she'll proudly walk across the stage this week and get her education degree from West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

"It's tough to walk, but I look at it as, 'At least I'm walking,'" she says. "At least I have my legs. They may not work. I have no feeling in the left one. But it's attached, at least. ... At least I'm alive."

The first woman to die in the Iraq conflict was Lynch's friend and fellow soldier, 23-year-old Army Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa of Arizona, who was killed in the convoy attack.

"Knowing she died right beside me and that could fairly well have been me brings a whole new perspective," Lynch said. "You're just thankful for what you've been given, even if it's not what you wanted."

Lynch and longtime boyfriend Wes Robinson are parents to 5-year-old Dakota, whose name honors her fallen American Indian friend.

The photo only told part of Lynch's story. "By looking at me through a picture, you'd never know anything is wrong," she said. "I fake it. But my family, my friends ... they know when I'm really in pain."

There is another side to Lynch's tale of heroism. The U.S. government used footage of Lynch to spin a tale that exaggerated the truth. To make her seem more heroic and rally public support for the war, the military claimed she'd gone down firing. In her book, "I Am a Soldier, Too," with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg, Lynch confesses that her rifle jammed.

"The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideals of heroes," she told Congress in 2007, "and they don't need to be told elaborate lies."

The revelation earned her hate mail. She once told Glamour magazine she felt like "the most hated person in America."

"They say things like, 'Who do you think you are? That was so eight years ago,'" Lynch said. "I just don't respond. It just doesn't bother me anymore. It used to, because I couldn't understand why people were hating me. I was just a soldier like the 100,000 others over there."

With her new life, career and young child, Lynch maintains a positive attitude. "I just let things roll off."

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