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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 11/11/2003

Not mythic but still heroic

America s would-be Iraq heroine, Jessica Lynch, the former Army supply clerk in the 507th Maintenance Company, will tell what she remembers of her story as an enemy captive tonight on ABC s Primetime and in her book to be released by Knopf.

The 20-year-old woman from Palestine, W. Va., who signed up for the military so she could afford college, was captured in March and freed weeks later by U.S. troops from an abandoned hospital.

Unlike early accounts that highlighted her derring-do and courage, neither is likely to be mentioned, let alone overstated in her stories. She wants to be real, not mythic.

Don t confuse what she will tell Diane Sawyer on Primetime with the NBC telepic that aired Sunday. It was based on the account of the Iraqi lawyer who claimed to be instrumental in her liberation, with some technical help from the Pentagon. Ms. Lynch, still recovering from injuries sustained in her ordeal, ended talks with NBC in favor of the ghost-written book. The enhanced stories embarrass her still. Their lack of basis gnaws at her soul.

Missing in her account will be the report of an exchange of gunfire during her rescue. Nor will you hear that she resisted capture and emptied her weapon firing on her attackers. She didn t, she says. It is doubtful, too, that she was slapped and otherwise mistreated by her captors as the Iraqi lawyer said.

And while the book reports that Ms. Lynch s military doctors said she had injuries consistent with rape, she recalls no such assault, nor were subsequent medical exams indicative. She doesn t remember much about the Humvee she rode in, its crash, or her capture. Concussions often erase memory, sometimes permanently.

Misinformation about her was spread in a media feeding frenzy that turned the young woman into a symbol of grit and endurance. She is uncomfortable in that role, even though in an odd way it suits her well. As an ambitious American teen, she made the army her path to professional advancement. Within a short time the flukes of fate led first to her capture, then her release.

Through it all she has been true to herself and the facts as she knows them. In this day and age that s pretty heroic.



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