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Lynch US rescue team dug up bodies with bare hands
Reuters | 4/05/03 | Claudia Parsons

Posted on 04/05/2003 7:54:14 AM PST by kattracks

Lynch US rescue team dug up bodies with bare hands

By Claudia Parsons

AS SAYLIYA CAMP, Qatar, April 5 (Reuters) - Special forces who rescued a captured U.S. soldier this week dug up the bodies of her fellow soldiers with their bare hands, determined to bring their remains home, U.S. officials said on Saturday.

The Pentagon said earlier that eight soldiers died in the same Iraqi ambush last month when now-rescued Private First Class Jessica Lynch was taken prisoner.

The elite team that was sent to rescue Lynch on Tuesday night was directed by a local doctor to the graves where a total of 11 bodies were found.

"They did not have shovels in order to dig those graves up so they dug them up with their hands," Major General Victor Renuart told a news conference at war headquarters in Qatar. "They wanted to do that very rapidly so they could race the sun and be off the site before the sun came up."

"It's a great testament to the will and desire of coalition forces to bring their own home," he said.

Lynch, recovering from injuries in a U.S. military hospital in Germany, was one of 15 soldiers of 507th Maintenance Company who were listed as missing, captured or killed when their convoy was attacked by Iraqi tanks on March 23.

Two of the 11 bodies found were determined not to be American. The other nine remains were flown to Delaware's Dover Air Force Base, where forensics experts used DNA testing and other advanced technologies to make identifications.

One of the bodies still has not been identified.

Renuart said the rescue operation had been a combined effort by special units of all the U.S. forces working on intelligence that a wounded soldier was being held in a Nassiriyah hospital that was being used by Iraqi irregular units.


He confirmed reports that Ali Hassan al-Majeed, the cousin of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein who is nicknamed "Chemical Ali," was linked to the hospital.

"We think that he was there, he had used that area but on the evening of the attack he was not located in that hospital," Renuart said. "That's not to say we haven't been tracking him down in some other locations and we'll continue to do so."

Majeed earned his nickname for overseeing the use of poison gas against Kurdish villagers in 1988.

He said the rescue team had found a weapons cache and a terrain model of the town in the basement of the hospital with the disposition of Iraqi and U.S.-led forces.

Renuart said he could not say whether Lynch had been injured before or after her capture, but said she had undergone back surgery and had been in some pain during the rescue.

U.S. officials at Lynch's hospital in Germany said the 19-year-old had two broken legs and one broken arm, but did not appear to have been shot or stabbed.

Renuart described how Lynch had been hiding under a sheet when the rescuers entered the room until they identified themselves as fellow Americans.

"I'm an American soldier too," she said.

As she was carried out on a stretcher she clung to the hand of a doctor from the U.S. Army Rangers.

"Jessica held up her hand and grabbed the Ranger doctor's hand and held it the entire time and said: 'Please don't let anybody leave me."'

04/05/03 10:26 ET

TOPICS: News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: bodies; iraqifreedom; jessicalynch; specialforces

1 posted on 04/05/2003 7:54:14 AM PST by kattracks
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To: kattracks
Those brave men are truly heros. This story is such an inspiration. I hope we get more like this before all is said and done.
2 posted on 04/05/2003 8:22:28 AM PST by RaiderRose
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