PALESTINE, W.Va. April 1 —
Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch's family rejoiced Tuesday at word of her
rescue as well-wishers packed their house and police and fire sirens
blared in celebration.
"They said it was going to be the biggest party this road had
ever seen," Lynch's cousin Sherri McFee said.
More than 70 people gathered at Lynch's parents' home in
Palestine after the Pentagon announced Tuesday night that the
19-year-old supply clerk had been rescued, more than a week after
she and other members of her maintenance unit were captured in
Central Command officials in Qatar, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said Lynch was rescued from an Iraqi hospital.
"The military notified me that my daughter was rescued," Greg
Lynch, father of Jessica Lynch, told the El Paso Times in a phone
interview. "I am very happy."
"You would not believe the joys, cries, bawling, hugging,
screaming, carrying on," Lynch's cousin Pam Nicolais said. "You just
have to be here."
The family expected to receive a telephone call from Lynch
Tuesday night, Lynch's cousin Terri Edwards said.
Lynch was among the soldiers of the 507th Maintenance Company who
were ambushed March 23 near Nasiriyah, a major crossing point over
the Euphrates northwest of Basra. Five members of the 507th were
shown on Iraqi television as prisoners being questioned, but Lynch
was not one of those pictured.
"Everybody was really worried, normal concerns and everything
like that. But we all remained hopeful and knew she would be home,"
"It just shows that miracles can happen," said Gov. Bob Wise, who
promised "one of the greatest homecomings this state has ever
Relatives of several other missing and captured members of the
507th said Tuesday night they had received no news, but some said
Lynch's rescue renewed their optimism.
"It gives me hope," said Jack Dowdy, father of missing Master
Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland. "I'm just sitting here
hoping if they find one maybe they will find some more."
"They just need to send some more Navy SEALs in," said Natalie
Hudson, wife of Army Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23.
Lynch's rescue relieved the farming community of Palestine, about
70 miles north of Charleston, and the entire state.
"God watched over Jessica and her family. All West Virginians are
rejoicing," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. "This is a testament
to the amazing skill and courage of our military."
Lynch is known for her smile and her laugh. Friends and family
call her Jesse. She's "every mother's dream of a teenager daughter,"
said Lorene Cumbridge, a cousin.
"She's just a West Virginia country girl. Warm-hearted.
Outgoing," said Cumbridge, 62.
Lynch's goal is to be a teacher. But she joined the Army to get
an education and because it was one of the few opportunities
available in a farming community with an unemployment rate of 15
percent one of the highest in West Virginia.
Her older brother, Gregory, is a member of the National Guard
based in Fort Bragg, N.C. Jessica enlisted through the Army's
delayed-entry program before graduating from Wirt County High School
Before she left for the military, family friends Glenda and Don
Nelson talked with her about the danger she would face.
"She said 'I've been trained and I'm ready to go,'" Don Nelson
"She's everyone's baby," he said. "She loved her country too and
was ready to serve it. That is what my country wants, kids like her.
She is a true hero in my eyes."
|Jessica Lynch, shown in this
Sept. 2000 photo, one of several soldiers who went missing
after their supply convoy was ambushed in southern Iraq, March
24, 2003 was rescued, the Pentagon confirmed early Wednesday,
April 1, 2003. Lynch, 19, of Palestine, W.Va., worked as a
supply clerk with the Army's 507th Maintenance Co. (AP
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