Local Rangers Recall Lynch Rescue

From video of the rescue operation.
From video of the rescue operation.

The rescue of Private First Class Jessica Lynch was one of the most well-known stories told during the major fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 20-year-old arrived in Elizabeth, West Virginia to a hero's welcome this afternoon. Her small hometown of Palestine just couldn't handle the crowd. Lynch was wounded and captured in Iraq after her convoy was attacked. She has spent the past several months recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Yesterday, Lynch was presented with the bronze star, the purple heart and the POW medal for her service in Iraq.

What's not so well known are the men behind her rescue, along with Marines and Navy SEALs, were soldiers with the First Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, stationed at Hunter Army Airfield. While PFC Lynch was making national headlines, the men responsible for her rescue went quietly unnoticed until we first brought you their story.

While missions like this one are top secret, we were able to see first hand into the private world of Army Rangers, a world constantly surrounded by danger, and more recently controversy.

"We conducted the operation from when we first heard about it to when we executed it, it was probably about three days," said Lt. Col. Mike Kershaw.

While we may never know the whole story behind this very public rescue, what we do what we see in the amazing footage: soldiers risking their own lives for the one life of a 19-year-old soldier.

"I'm just thankful to God that we were able to bring everybody home," said Maj. Christopher Vanek. "That just shows you the level of proficiency of these guys out here that we brought everybody home."

And while it did take a while for PFC Lynch to make it home to West Virginia, it was a homecoming made possible by some heroic soldiers stationed in Savannah. From what we were told, that rescue was just one of several missions the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment from Hunter Army Airfield had to complete. Another was bringing back the bodies of 11 American servicemen that were killed in action.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com