Jessica Lynch wants to put Iraq behind her.
Ten years after then 19-year-old Army Private Lynch was rescued from her Iraqi captors in the early days of the war, Lynch is speaking about what’s happened in the years since. Lynch said the spotlight was a difficult place, especially after the initially inaccurate accounts of her rescue.
The story that first came out said Jessica Lynch suffered broken bones from enemy fire, when in fact her injuries came from a Humvee crash.
“I set the record straight as much as I can,” Lynch said in an interview on the Today show. ” I did Congress and testified to let everyone know … the real story.”
The 29-year-old Lynch became famous in 2003 when she was the first American POW to be rescued since the Vietnam War. It was only days into the war in Iraq when her 507th Maintenance Company was ambushed in Nasiriya and Lynch was captured by Iraqi soldiers.
She was held at a hospital until US Special Forces stormed the facility and rescued her.
Jessica Lynch is now a teacher and motivational speaker. While she said she’s happy to “put Iraq in the past,” Lynch also recognized that it would always be part of her life.
She isn’t just speaking metaphorically. Lynch had 21 surgeries for the injuries she suffered, which included a broken back and two broken legs. She has ongoing pain in her right leg and wears a brace on her left leg.
Lynch also lives with the guilt of being the only one in her unit to survive.
“My best friend [Lori Paestewa] didn’t get to come back and I did. She had two beautiful kids,” Jessica Lynch said. “It’s hard to know they’re going to have to grow up without their mom.”
Though it has been 10 years since her rescue, Lynch said the memories are still fresh.
“About every night I have some kind of dream where there’s someone chasing me,” she told Today’s Janet Shamlian on Monday. “It’s hard. It really is mentally and physically draining. I’m very blessed and happy to be here, and I think that’s what counts the most, and if I tell myself that I’m OK, I eventually I start (thinking), ‘You know what? I can do this.’ ”
Jessica Lynch said she’s trying the best she can to move on with her life. She moved back to her hometown of Charleston, West Virginia, and is working on a master’s degree.