Friday 9 May 2003

The real 'Saving Pte. Lynch'

Iraqi medical staff tell a different story than U.S. military - 'We all became friends with her, we liked her so much'

The fog of war comes sometimes with a certain odour, and cutting through its layers, like cutting through an onion, can bring tears to the eyes.

Such is the case with what is far and away the most oft-told story of the Persian Gulf War II — the saga of Saving Private Lynch.

Branded on to our consciousness by media frenzy, the flawless midnight rescue of 19-year-old Private First Class Jessica Lynch hardly bears repeating even a month after the fact.

Precision teams of U.S. Army Rangers and Navy Seals, acting on intelligence information and supported by four helicopter gunships, ended Lynch's nine-day Iraqi imprisonment in true Rambo style, raising America's spirits when it needed it most.

All Hollywood could ever hope to have in a movie was there in this extraordinary feat of rescue — except, perhaps, the truth.

So say three Nasiriya doctors, two nurses, one hospital administrator and local residents interviewed separately last week in a Toronto Star investigation.

The medical team that cared for Lynch at the hospital formerly known as Saddam Hospital is only now beginning to appreciate how grand a myth was built around the four hours the U.S. raiding party spent with them early on April Fool's Day.

And they are disappointed.

For Dr. Harith Houssona, 24, who came to consider Lynch a friend after nurturing her through the worst of her injuries, the ironies are almost beyond tabulation.

Full story...