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UPDATE: Man Who Helped Rescue Jessica Lynch Dies

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UPDATE 5/19/2014 11:00 AM

An army ranger who helped rescue POW and Wirt County native Jessica Lynch died.

The defense department says Command Sargeant Major Martin Barreras was shot in Afghanistan last week.

The ranger was then brought home to the states, where he died in Texas on Tuesday.

Jessica Lynch was being held prisoner at an Iraqi hospital back in 2003 when Barreras and other soldiers rescued her.

At the time of his death, Barreras was the top enlisted soldier for his unit in texas.

Barreras was 49-years-old.


UPDATE: 4/1/2013 11:00 PM

April 1st 2003. A day that cemented Jessica Lynch in the history books.

At just 19-years-old, Lynch was among 12 members of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company when it was ambushed.

She survived but was captured and held by Iraqi soldiers at a hospital.
She was later rescued by U.S. Special Forces troops who stormed the facility.

"I don't know. I'm blessed to be here but at the same time it's sad. It's a sad occasion because today marks the day, you know when they came in to rescue me, they also found the bodies of my comrades behind the hospital so it is a little bit of a joyous occasion, but it is sad," says former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch.

But she didn't come out unscathed. Jessica has endured years of surgery to repair her extensive injuries.

"I think that's one of the things that people kind of tend to forget is that my injuries were so severe and you know I've had 21 surgeries to correct everything and that they go in and have to refix or have another surgery on the same procedure that they just did. So definitely a lot of healing and rehabilitation that I went through," says Lynch.

But it's not just the physical scars that torture her. Jessica is still coping with the emotional loss after such a traumatic experience.

"But I deal with it the best that I can and I think that's what helps just getting that, you know I've said it all day and I kind of feel like a broken record at this point, but keeping that perseverance, that never give up attitude is what has helped me honestly throughout the past 10 years of just waking up every day and being like ok you know what it's ok I have to put on this brace. Just drive on let's get over it just wake up let's move on," says Lynch.

For her, this anniversary creates an opportunity to raise awareness and show support for troops serving right now.

"And I think that's one of the main things we need to remember. That even here in West Virginia we have so many soldiers that are deployed and not necessarily that they have to be in war, but they're stationed throughout this world and we do need to remember that they're still there and pray and support them until they come home safely too," says Lynch.

Around 100 people came out to the Culture Center in Charleston to honor Jessica.

She donated photos and memorabilia to the center and it will be on display for the next 6 months.

Jessica is a mother and teacher in Wirt County.
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Updated: 3/28/2013 8:05 P.M.

Signs throughout Wirt County still proclaim it's the home of Jessica Lynch, the Army private who, ten years ago, was as big a story in the Iraq war as the march on Baghdad itself.

Three days into the war, Lynch disappeared along with members of her convoy during the battle to take control of the city of Nasiriyah. She later was rescued from an Iraqi hospital, unaware of all the attention she was getting not only in Wirt County, but across the nation and the world.

"I had to ask, does anyone at home know that I'm missing, does anyone know that I'm here?," she recalls. "Little did I know that it was worldwide. I can look back and laugh at those things now."

Early reports which said Private Lynch, then nearly 20 years old, fought off her attackers with gunfire later proved to be false. Although many we spoke to in her home town, and even members of her family, hailed her as a hero, Lynch disagrees.

"I've tried to set the record straight as much as I can, and let people know there are heroes out there, and they deserve the attention and the credit. I've never said I was a hero, I've never taken credit for anything like that."

People like Josh Taylor of Marietta, whose funeral is this Saturday, after his death in mid-March in a training accident in Nevada.

Lynch has made several high-profile appearances in the last decade, including testimony at a congressional hearing regarding the death of former pro football star Pat Tillman in in the early months of the Afghanistan war. We've also seen her speaking to high school and elementary students, and promoting causes like Jessica's Pals at West Virginia University Hospital, which provided stuffed animals to sick children. Now a substitute teacher in Wirt County, she still has a goal of possibly someday being a full-time teacher.

"I'm taking classes to get my masters now, and hopefully after that, I'll be able to get into the schools more and do more substitute teaching, and things that make me happy and that I enjoy."

One of those lost in that battle was a close friend of Jessica's, Lori Piestowa, a Native American and the first woman to die in combat.

This past weekend, Lynch attended a ceremony in Piestowa's honor in her home state of Arizona.

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This story originally posted April 2, 2003:

Defense officials say American troops have rescued Army Private First Class Jessica Lynch. She'd been held as a prisoner in Iraq since she and other members of her maintenance unit were ambushed on March 23.

The 19-year-old Lynch, of Palestine, West Virginia, was part of the 507th Maintenance Company, which was ambushed near Nasiriyah after making a wrong turn.

Five other members of her unit were later shown on Iraqi television answering questions.

Lynch had been listed as missing in action, but was identified by the Pentagon Tuesday as a POW. She was not among the seven U.S. soldiers -- including the five shown on television – formally listed as prisoners of war.

Brigadier General Vincent Brooks at Central Command headquarters in Qatar announced that a U.S. POW had been rescued, but refused to provide any further details.

Central Command officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say Lynch was rescued from a hospital in Iraq.


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