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American heroes

December 11, 2015
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Cape Coral will pay tribute to an Iraqi war veteran this weekend with a number of events.

Former U.S. Army PFC Jessica Lynch, who was critically injured in an ambush of a supply convoy and then taken prisoner in 2003, is scheduled to be honored at a number of events today through Sunday when a full day of "Faith & Freedom Day" events have been slated, thanks to AMVETS?Post 65.

We welcome Ms. Lynch, we thank her for her service - and we respectfully disagree with her view that she is "a survivor" and "not a hero."

It matters not that the most severe of her injuries - shattered arm, splintered leg, crushed foot and fractured spine - were incurred when the Humvee in which she was riding crashed. That crash occured under fire in a March 23 ambush that left 11 of 20 soldiers with the 507th Maintenance Company homebased at Fort Bliss, Texas, dead on a road to Baghdad.

It matters not that her gun jammed and she "killed no one."

It matters not that as a supply clerk she was "support personnel" and not combat assigned.

What makes her a hero is that she enlisted knowing deployment was a possibility, was wounded in action while serving her country, endured great pain and duress until rescued by special forces on April 1, and underwent more than 20 surgeries for those injuries after returning home.

Let us be clear here: Those who deploy to a war zone and put their lives on the line while performing their duties are, by definition, American heroes.

That includes Ms. Lynch, who was 19 at the time, and it certainly includes the 11 who died that day, as well as the five soldiers who were captured with her, and the troops who rescued her at the primitive hospital where she had been left by her captors.

Their names, like the names of most of the dead and the wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, are little known and fading - except for their friends, their families, and their comrades in arms.

In honoring Ms. Lynch let us also take a moment commemorate the memory of those killed in action the day she was wounded. According to the POW Network they include:

Spc. Jamaal R. Addison, 22, of Roswell, Georgia; Pfc. Howard Johnson II, 21, of Mobile, Ala.; Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland, Ohio; Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto, 18, of El Paso, Texas; Spc. James M. Kiehl, 22, of Des Moines, Iowa; Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Villareal Mata, 35, of El Paso, Texas; Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, 23, of Tuba City, Ariz.; Pvt. Brandon Ulysses Sloan, 19, of Bedford, Ohio; and Sgt. Donald Ralph Walters, 33, of Salem, Ore.

Let us also silently honor her fellow soldiers taken as prisoners of war, those who returned home in May, 2003. The POW Network lists them as:

Spc. Edgar Adan Hernandez, 21, of Mission, Texas; Spc. Joseph Neal Hudson, 23, of Alamogordo, N.M.; Spc. Shoshana Nyree Johnson, 30, of El Paso, Texas; Pfc. Patrick Wayne Miller, 23, of Walter, Kan.; and Sgt. James Joseph Riley, 31, of Pennsauken, N.J.

The four wounded in the action.

All of the members of multi-unit special forces team who effected her rescue, including Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Barreras, 49, who died a year later from wounds suffered in combat in Afghanistan, the last of multiple deployments.

And, yes, all of those who have been deployed into war zones to fight a threat that continues today.

Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice.

- Breeze editorial

 
 
 

 

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