20. The First Woman Soldier Rescued From War


She created history as the first female soldier to be rescued successfully from an Iraqi war zone back in 2003. This blonde, blue-eyed young woman wearing the American Army cap became a household face as the whole nation stood in awe of her glory. Yet, she was far from happy. She preferred the truth over popularity.

And boy did she have a story to tell; one that will captivate you for all the wrong reasons.

19. She Couldn’t Afford Her Education


Before Jessica Dawn Lynch became an Army Private First Class, she lived the life of a typical 17-year-old in the peaceful town of Palestine, West Virginia.  She was born on April 26, 1983, to a self-employed truck driver Gregory Lynch. When she was nearing her graduation from Wirty County High School in 2001 and getting ready to go to college, she knew her family couldn’t afford her education. However, her ambition would change the entire course of her life.

18. She Wanted To Be A Teacher


Jessica wanted to be a teacher as long as she could remember. However, a more pressing ambition for her was to get out of West Virginia and make a difference somewhere, somehow. She knew serving in the military was the answer to her wish because she would get the kind of exposure and discipline needed to lead a class. But there was a side of the military she wasn’t aware of.

17. Life Before September 11


She, along with her father Gregory Lynch, met an army recruiter in 2000, a year before her graduation. The recruiter made it clear to the family that the possibility of war during Jessica’s training in the Army couldn’t be ruled out, and they needed to be aware of what they were agreeing to. “That would never happen to me,” Jessica reassured herself. This was before September 11th had happened to the world, and you could say she was blissfully unaware.

16. Enlisting For The US Army


People doubted her success in the army but as her father would tell the world later, she had a knack for proving people wrong. She enlisted in the US Army immediately after graduation, excited for what the future held. Her brother, Gregory Jr, also dropped out of college and enlisted. Nobody could know the extent of the obstacles they were about to face.

15. Post-September 11th


On the fateful day of September 11th, 2001, Jessica was still training. Less than two weeks after, she was on her way to Fort Jackson, South Carolina to start Basic Training in the Army. Here too, she never imagined herself in a combat situation.  She soon completed Advanced Individual Training in preparation for her Military Occupational Specialty, also known as AIT.

The time and length of the program depend on what the soldier specializes in and can range from four weeks to a year. Jessica became a Unit Supply Specialist and would complete her advanced training in the Quartermaster Corps in Fort Lee, Virginia. However, when the time came, she wasn’t ready for what they were asking.

13. Sent To Iraq As A Supply Clerk


By December 2002, Jessica penned a four-year extension with the Army. She was now a supply clerk at Fort Bliss in Texas. By March 2003, the war in the Middle East broke out and she was sent to Iraq with the 507th Maintenance Company as a Private First Class. And before she knew it, she found herself at the heart of the Battle of Nasiriyah. One coincidence after another, she couldn’t help but think it was a sign of something worse to come.

12. One Wrong Turn


Jessica was traveling as a supply clerk with her convoy in a Humvee on March 23th, 2003 when disaster struck. An error in the navigational equipment misled the troops to an uncharted territory – Nasiriyah. To top that, a supply officer Captain Troy King, who had no combat training, was leading the convoy. Things were not looking good, and they were about to get a lot worse.

11. The Battle of Nasiriyah


By the time the American troops realized the detour, Iraqi vehicles had begun to surround them. Within minutes the Iraqis gauged the situation and started to open fire. They shot a rocket-propelled grenade on the Humvee that forced the convoy to crash into a tractor trailer. In the 90-minute long battle, the troupes split into three smaller groups. The unluckiest of the groups just happened to be the one Jessica was in. Some 11 soldiers lost their lives while Jessica was badly injured. Back in the homeland, the news media had declared several soldiers, including Jessica, Missing-in-Action (MIA).

Unaware and dazed, her parents were about to realize the situation was worse than they originally thought.

10. From MIA To A Prisoner Of War

Image: Getty Images

Jessica awoke the next day at the Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah. She was now officially a prisoner of war in Iraq and Missing-in-Action for her countrymen. Her best friend Lori Ann Piestewa was also in the same hospital but soon succumbed to her injuries and died.

Meanwhile, Iraqi military filmed the prisoners, transmitting the videos worldwide showing tortures inflicted on the American soldiers. The pictures were disturbing and revealed just what Jessica was going through.

9. A Close Rescue Operation


On one occasion, an Iraqi soldier slapped Jessica and the situation looked like it was about to get worse. She was spotted by a lawyer named Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief, who opposed the torture, decided to save Jessica while risking his own life. Back on American soil, the authorities were worried about their soldiers, frantically putting together a plan.

Soon a special task force intercepted her location and stormed the hospital on April 1st. In no time, she was transported to Germany’s Ramstein Air Base and then later to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, close to Washington DC.

The craziest part of this whole ordeal was that the American Military decided to film the rescue mission, and release it to the media…

8. Why Film The Rescue?


Jessica, in the moment, was worried about her injuries. She had sustained severe wounds on her back and feet. Meanwhile, her photograph, along with stories of her heroism, were being flashed all over the country. In addition, there were varying reports of the rescue, misleading with false information.

Doctors present at the time of raid claimed that they were held at gunpoint to treat the patients, while others claimed that Iraqi troupes had left right before the Americans arrived. It wasn’t clear why exactly the American military had filmed the rescue and released the tapes to the media. Was it really such an efficient rescue? Or were they trying to cover something up?

7. A Vigilant American Hero, Or Not?


Jessica learned that it was the first time that an American prisoner of war was rescued in a clandestine operation since the Vietnam War. At least that’s what the American media claimed, anyhow. She was also the first Private First Class to be rescued. But what truly disturbed her, was that she was portrayed by the army and the media as a vigilant American hero, who fired guns until she was out of bullets. “This wasn’t true. I didn’t fire a single shot,” she told the press later. But why would everybody lie about such a crucial detail?

6. Something Wasn’t Right


Jessica couldn’t keep her mouth shut; she was puzzled about the various versions floating around and wondered how they all got so twisted. She soon signed a $1 million book deal – a biography detailing her experiences in Iraq, and she was ready, to tell the truth. It was titled I Am A Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story. In the book, she tried to create the actual picture of what had really happened. Now readers were outraged because details in her biography did not add up to the information furnished by the media, and they wanted answers.

5. Real Heroes Forgotten


Meanwhile, she had fully recovered from her injuries and was ready to answer questions. She said on record that her gun was jammed during the battle of Nasiriyah and she was completely knocked out. She also shared how the true heroes such as Patrick Miller and Sergeant Donald Walters and her best friend Lori Piestewa were underplayed. She maintains to this day that she never really recovered from Lori’s loss. She also didn’t  hesitate to inform the media that another soldier Shoshana Johnson, a black woman whom everyone forgot, was also rescued but nobody focused on her story. However, what truly shocked her, was how little people cared about facts.

 4. The Truth Must Go On


Jessica’s biography made her an object of criticism from ex-servicemen who bashed her for blaming it on the Pentagon and the media. She continued to share the true story to the world, speaking to news channels and the media, regardless of the backlash. She went on to complete her masters and now teaches as a substitute teacher. Some of the injuries sustained are permanent and debilitating, thus preventing her from working full time. Yet she does what she loves the most – teaching.

She hasn’t let her disabilities get in the way of creating the life she’s always wanted, though.

3. Moving On In Life


Jessica found love and married a generous and kind man, Wes Robinson. The pair has a daughter Dakota Ann named after Jessica’s best friend Lori. In the last 15 years, she has had 22 surgeries to correct the damage inflicted that frightful day. This wasn’t the end of the excitement, life had some more in store for her.

2. Acting In A Movie


All of a sudden, Jessica was approached by a film director interested in working with the veteran. She agreed to the project and got the chance to act in the movie – Virtuous – which was released in 2014. She played the role of a military specialist. Creator Jason Campbell believed that Jessica was perfect for the role and was happy to include her. And sure enough, she proved that she was. Could she ever shut her critics up?

1. A Reluctant Celebrity


More than being a celebrity for both good and bad reasons, Jessica enjoys teaching young students in schools. There are people who believe her story, and there are others who don’t. She spends a lot of time with her daughter who completely embodies her mother’s spirit of never giving up.