Iraqi Family Risks Their Lives To Save American Army POW
> By Sgt. Joseph R. Chenelly
> 1st Marine Expeditionary Force
> MARINE COMBAT HEADQUARTERS, Iraq, April 3, 2003 - New heroes have surfaced
> in the rescue of U.S. Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch.
> Under the watchful eyes of more than 40 murderous gunmen, the 19-year-old
> supply clerk laid in Saddam Hussein Hospital suffering from at least one
> gunshot wound and several broken bones.
> As her captors discussed amputating her leg, an Iraqi man leaned to her
> and whispered, "Don't worry." Lynch replied with a warm smile.
> The man was already working with U.S. Marines to gain the critical
> information needed to rescue one of the first American prisoners of war in
> Operation Iraqi Freedom.
> Just a day earlier, the lawyer from An Nasiryah had walked 10 kilometers
> inform American forces he knew where Lynch was being held.
> The shocked Marines asked Mohammad to return to the hospital and note
> certain things. He was tasked with counting the guards and documenting the
> hospital's layout. Knowing the risk, he agreed to help the young woman he
> had seen only once.
> "I came to the hospital to visit my wife," said the Iraqi man, whose wife
> a nurse. "I could see much more security than normal."
> The man, who, for his protection, will only be identified as Mohammad,
> one of the doctors about the increased security. "He told me there was a
> woman American soldier there."
> Together, the two went to see her. Peering through the room's window,
> Mohammad saw a sight he claims will stay with him for a life. An Iraqi
> colonel slapped the soldier who had been captured after a fierce
> March 23. First with his palm, then with his backhand.
> "My heart stopped," he said in a soft tone. "I knew then I must help her
> saved. I decided I must go to tell the Americans."
> Just days earlier, Mohammad saw a woman's body dragged through his
> neighborhood. He said "the animals" were punishing the woman for waving at
> coalition helicopter. The brutal demonstration failed to deter him from
> going to the Marines.
> The same day he first saw Lynch, he located a Marine checkpoint. Worried
> he'd be mistaken for an attacker in civilian clothes, he approached the
> Marines with his hands high above his head.
> "[A Marine sentry] asked, 'What you want?'" Mohammad said. "I want to help
> you. I want to tell you important information - about Jessica!"
> After talking with the Marines, he returned to the hospital to gather
> information.
> "I went to see the security," he said. "I watched where they stood, where
> they sat, where they ate and when they slept."
> While he observed Saddam's henchmen, the notorious regime death squad paid
> Mohammad's home an unexpected visit. His wife and 6-year-old daughter fled
> to nearby family. Many of his personal belongings, including his car, were
> seized.
> "I am not worried for myself," he said. "Security in Iraq [that is still]
> loyal to Saddam will kill my wife. They will kill my [child]."
> Meanwhile, Mohammad accompanied his friend into Lynch's tightly guarded
> room. She was covered up to her chin by a white blanket. Her head was
> bandaged. A wound on the right leg was in bad condition.
> "The doctors wanted to cut her leg off," he said "My friend and I decided
> would stop it."
> Creating numerous diversions, they managed to delay the surgery long
> "She would have died if they tried it."
> Mohammad walked through battles in the city streets for two straight days
> get to back to the hospital. His main mission was to watch the guards, but
> each morning he attempted to keep Lynch's spirits strong with a "good
> morning" in English.
> He said she was brave throughout the ordeal.
> When reporting back to the Marines on March 30, he brought five different
> maps he and his wife had made. He was able to point to the exact room the
> captured soldier was being held in. He also handed over the security
> reaction plan and times that shift changes occurred.
> He had counted 41 bad guys, and determined a helicopter could land on the
> hospital's roof. It was just the information the Marines needed.
> American forces conducted a nighttime raid April 1. Lynch was safely
> rescued. She has since been transported to a medical facility in Germany.
> Mohammad and his family are now in a secure location and have been granted
> refugee status. He doesn't feel safe in An Nasryah, but he hopes things
> improve as the war against the regime advances.
> "Iraq is not a safe place while Saddam Hussein is in power," Mohammad
> "He kills the Iraqi people whenever he wants. I believe the Americans will
> bring peace and security to the people of Iraq."
> Mohammad's wife said she wants to volunteer to help injured or sick
> forces in the future.
> "America came here to help us," he said. "The Marines are brave men. They
> have been gentle with the Iraqi people. They are taking out Saddam
> For that, we're grateful."
> Mohammad's family hopes to meet Lynch in the future.
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