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Tuesday, May 27

Army opens probe into 507th ambush

By Huntington (W.Va.) Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Army has launched an investigation of the March 23 ambush in Nasiriyah, Iraq, that made Pfc. Jessica Lynch of Palestine, W.Va., and five other soldiers from her unit prisoners of war.

Brig. Gen. Howard Bromberg, commander of the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command at Fort Bliss, Texas, ordered the ``commander's inquiry,'' known in military jargon as a ``15-6.'' The ``extremely complex'' investigation should be completed soon, Col. Joe Curtain, who oversees the Army's media relations staff at the Pentagon, told The Herald-Dispatch on Tuesday.

``Part of it will attempt to learn what happened to each of the soldiers,'' Curtain said. ``It will try to determine whether Pfc. Lynch was in an accident, when the ambush hit, did the vehicle wreck or did she fight.'' Curtain said completion of the study does not guarantee that it will be released to the media.

``The status of its release is unknown at this time,'' he said. ``The commander will have to look at it first, and maybe his lawyer. It's too early to tell.''

Lynch's unit, the 507th Maintenance Company, was moving from Kuwait that day in support of Patriot antimissile batteries heading north in Iraq.

Randy Kiehl of Comfort, Texas, who lost his son James in the ambush, said a Rally for America in Huntington on Saturday, sponsored by conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck, that the 507th had stopped to help another unit get its stalled vehicles restarted. It was trying to catch up with its convoy, but the Fedayeen altered road signs and they ended up in Nasiriyah. They tried to leave, but were ambushed by Iraqis waiting for a U.S. Marine detachment, he said.

The Washington Post initially reported that Lynch put up a fierce fight to avoid capture, but Pentagon officers later cast doubt on the story, saying the evidence indicated that Lynch's truck crashed, injuring her severely and leaving her in no position to fight.

Bromberg's inquiry will probe every aspect of the ambush, including leadership, training, mechanical failures and tactics.

``The goal is lessons learned, corrective action,'' Curtain said. ``These are options any commander has.''

The ambush resulted in the deaths of nine soldiers and the capture of six others, including Lynch. All six prisoners of war from the 507th were ultimately rescued.

A special operations force rescued Lynch from an Iraqi hospital April 1. She was treated for her injuries at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and was transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on April 12.

Walter Reed's public affairs office sent a releases to media outlets Tuesday saying that Lynch remains in satisfactory condition, undergoing occupational and physical therapy under the supervision of her medical team.