These evening a plane carrying PFC Jessica Lynch landed at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. She'll receive treatment at an American military hospital before going home to West Virginia. Less than 24 hours ago, Lynch was in an Iraqi hospital, a prisoner of war. A joint force made up of Army Rangers, Air Force pilots, Marines and Navy Seals pulled her out of harm's way in an overnight commando raid.
The rescue of Jessica Lynch is a testimony to the amazing skills of America's fighting forces. WTOC spoke with a retired commander with Army Special Forces. Retired Lt. Col. Clayton Scott says the video of Lynch being rescued is impressive, but he says the real amazing part of the rescue is all the work that goes into it that we never see.
In an overnight raid, Lynch was delivered to a waiting Black Hawk helicopter. Acting on a tip from an Iraqi civilian, the joint force raided Saddam Hospital to rescue the 19-year-old soldier. In moments, it was done.
"Actions like this have to take seconds," Lt. Col. Scott told us. "They're measured in seconds rather than minutes. It's pretty impressive that we can do this, and more impressive that we have the national resolve that we will do this."
Scott led a mobile strike force in Vietnam. While he says training and techniques have changed, commitment has not.
"People are counting on you and you're counting on them," he said. "You never have to worry about someone covering your back because you know somebody is."
Special forces, like Army Rangers, train for months at a time to specialize in raids and rescues just like this one, because the margin for error doesn't exist.
"What are the odds of going behind enemy lines at night in a helicopter in what could be a dust storm instantly, going to an area you've never been before that secured by enemy troops, rescuing a prisoner who's under guard and getting everybody back out alive?" Scott asked. "It's just miraculous."
Unfortunately, eleven bodies were also found near the hospital. The Pentagon has not confirmed if they are the soldiers who were in the same unit as Jessica Lynch. Seven other members of the 507th Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss, Texas are missing; five were taken as prisoners of war.