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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK
US town celebrates POW rescue

By Nick Bryant
BBC correspondent in Palestine, West Virginia

Lynch's family was overcome with relief
Lynch's father feared word of the rescue was an April Fool's joke
From the fir-lined Appalachian mountains to the hard gravel streets of Nasiriya, 19-year-old Jessica Lynch, a clerk with the 507th Maintenance Company, has made a remarkable journey.

Had her community of Palestine, West Virginia been able to offer teenagers leaving high school more work, she probably would never have even made it.

According to her 21-year-old brother Greg, she was tough, resourceful and equipped with the mental toughness to withstand 10 days of captive uncertainty.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Jessica and her rescuers are all heroes and will inspire prisoners to keep heart
David, UK

But nobody here expected young Jessica - Miss Congeniality to her friends - to end up an Iraqi prisoner.

When we arrived early this morning, outside her parents' white wood-slat house amidst the trees, it was festooned with yellow ribbons and besieged by reporters.

In a field opposite there was a shaggy horse, a ramshackle barn, a corrugated iron mobile home and millions of dollars of the latest satellite technology to beam this happy scene around the world.

For once, journalists weren't racing around barking into their mobile phones. There was little point because the closest signal was about 30 kilometres (20 miles) away.

Out of ribbon

This is a remote community where the local shops had run out of yellow ribbon, but where the local people had never run out of hope.

Like many Americans at this time of war, they are drawing strength from their faith and their flag.

"Prayers answered" read the headline in a special edition of the local paper.

Jessica's father Greg told reporters he did not initially believe his daughter had been rescued.

"I asked three or four times, just to make sure they said the same name. I even went to the table and got a pencil and paper and wrote some numbers down because I just figured this was an April Fool's deal."

To the delight of her friends and family Jessica is heading home.


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