June 23, 2004 – U.S. Army Pfc and St. Croix son Jason N. Lynch made the front page of The Washington Post on Wednesday in an article describing the last hour in his life, the conditions under which he and his colleagues had been fighting in Iraq, and the response of a number of those colleagues to his death last Friday.
Lynch, the 21-year-old son of Paula Pemberton Lynch and Hubert Lynch, also of St. Croix, was hit by enemy fire at 6:50 p.m. Friday and died less than an hour later in a forward base hospital just north of Baghdad.
Post reporter Edward Cody writes that the 6-foot-2 Lynch "reveled in reggae music and yearned to return to his Caribbean home."
In Iraq, he and his roommate and friend Cpl. Evrod Folkes, 22, a native of Jamaica, would "turn up the volume on their reggae CDs and dream of returning to their islands," the article states. Lynch "would just sit there and listen to it for hours," another friend and colleague, Sgt. Steven Sherrod, 34, of Philadelphia, said.
On Tuesday, the report states, Lynch's fellow soldiers and commanding officers held a memorial service for their fallen comrade. On display were his beige combat boots, the flak helmet he was wearing when he was hit, his M-16 rifle, his Purple Heart and his Bronze Star.
Lt. Col. Steve Bullimore, 43, of St. Joseph, Mo., said "We owe it to Jason, to his family, that his death not be in vain, that his sacrifice not in any way be diminished."
Pfc. Kyle Lautenhiser, 20, from Indiana, took Lynch's place behind a Humvee machine gun after helping get him out of the vehicle and to the medics. At the memorial service, Cody writes, he said: "I am here to tell you about a great person, and a real person. His name was Jason Lynch."
"When the speechmaking was over," Cody writes, "when taps was played, after the rifles were fired in a final tribute, officers and men filed past one by one to salute his photograph."
The Post article states that most of the 513 U.S. military personnel who have died in Iraq since President Bush declared on May 1, 2003, that major combat was over "have died one or two at a time in roadside bombings or skirmishes too small to make headlines back in the States." But for those involved on the scene and back home "each casualty has been a large-scale tragedy."
The day that Lynch died, Cody writes, the U.S. forces had been trading fire with insurgents for 14 hours straight in 120-degree heat. "Such missions are expected to continue for months," well after the partial transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government next week, the article states.
Cody reports that it was toward the end of his one-hour shift manning a Humvee-mounted .50-caliber machine gun that Lynch came under fire in the village of Buhriz. "AK-47's started crackling again, just before dusk," the article states, and Lynch responded with machine-gun fire, sticking his head and torso out of the roof of the Humvee to take aim. It was then that a single 7.62mm round "ripped into his right side."
Others in the vehicle pulled Lynch to safety and called for medics. Within moments Lynch was being examined by Spec. Michael Miranda, 21, of Roma, Texas, and Pfc. Stu Eubanks, 22, of Lakeland, Fla., who found the single bullet hole and signs of heavy bleeding. Enemy fire exploding around them, they moved Lynch onto a litter and carried him to the nearby command center, where they started him on intravenous fluids to compensate for blood loss.
"About a minute into it, he started going into shock," Eubanks said later, according to the Post. They put him on a respirator and placed him in an armored vehicle for transport to a pickup point and transfer to a Humvee ambulance for a 20-minute drive to the forward base hospital.
In the ambulance, "in a triumph of military bureaucracy," Cody writes, Lynch was able to give Sgt. Maria Kammerer, 21, of Houston, the last four digits of his Social Security number — a requirement to get the paperwork started for his care at the base hospital.
Kammerer told the Post that Lynch died with a half-hour of his arrival there.
To read the full article, go to the online edition of The Washington Post.
On the right-hand side of that same page of the WashingtonPost.Com site is a link to "A Soldier's Story," Post photographer Andrea Bruce Woodall's "Photo Gallery" slide show of images taken in the days after Lynch's death. They include graphic scenes of fellow soldiers wounded in subsequent firefights and comments about the relationships some of them had with Lynch. Also shown is a framed portrait of Lynch bearing his name, date of birth, date of death and the words "Our brother in arms, you will not be forgotten."
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