View Full Version : Lynch a No-Show for Iraqi Savior's Visit

10-28-03, 05:44 AM
Lynch a No-Show as Iraqi Visits Ex-POW's Town

By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 28, 2003; Page A07

PALESTINE, W.Va., Oct. 27 -- The Iraqi lawyer who helped U.S. forces locate Jessica Lynch paid a visit Monday to her home town, where he was showered with affection, gifts and awards. But he was unable to meet the former prisoner of war, who was too busy with other commitments, according to her spokesman.

Mohammed Odeh Rehaief arrived in this tiny mountain town at the end of a four-day tour of West Virginia organized by a citizens' group called Friends of Muhammed, which wanted to honor the man credited with leading U.S. Marines to Lynch. Rehaief, who received political asylum and now lives in the Washington area, was received as a hero, with dozens of local citizens mobbing him at a reception and the West Virginia secretary of state proclaiming him an honorary citizen.

But there was no sign of the young ex-soldier who became an icon of the war.

"She has a lot of commitments of time, in terms of rehabilitation. . . . She works very hard at getting better," said attorney Stephen Goodwin, Lynch's spokesman. "She hopes to see him in the future. She's very appreciative for the role he played in her rescue."

Friends said Rehaief was deeply disappointed. But he assured local residents that it was more important that Lynch recover.

"I know she had a very difficult time in Iraq, and she takes rest," he said.

Rehaief's book about his experiences, "Because Each Life is Precious," (HarperCollins) was recently published. In it, he recounts braving bullets and bombs to crisscross enemy territory and deliver information about Lynch's location in a hospital in the southern city of Nasiriyah. Rehaief also has worked with NBC on a television movie about the saga.

Lynch recently signed a $1 million book deal of her own. The book is due out next month, when she is to break her silence on her experiences in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer. Her spokesman denied speculation among some residents that Lynch did not meet Rehaief because of competing media projects. "Absolutely not," Goodwin said.

Lynch's absence did not appear to disappoint her fellow townsfolk, who lined up to greet Rehaief at a midday reception at the library in Elizabeth, the town next to Palestine.

"I am one of the family," Dolores Martin, 39, told Rehaief, describing herself as Lynch's second cousin. She gave him a powerful hug, then pulled a blue ceramic angel from a paper bag. "Since you are an angel to us," the homemaker explained.

Rehaief smiled: "This is very special gift to me."

Ron Hill, 57, a native of Palestine, also warmly embraced the lawyer. "Thank you for all you've done for Jessica and America," said Hill, whose wife is a distant cousin of Lynch.

News of the capture and rescue of Lynch, an Army private, captivated West Virginians and many other Americans worried about the war. In recent months, however, critics have assailed the early portrayal of Lynch's heroism and her rescue as exaggerated. Lynch was wounded when her Army maintenance unit was ambushed near Nasiriyah.

Hospital employees in Nasiriyah also have challenged details of Rehaief's story. But the U.S. military has confirmed his assistance.
A few Palestine residents said they wondered if Rehaief's story was completely true. "There's a certain skepticism about self-serving declarations. A wait-and-see attitude," said Thorn Roberts, 58, who said he wanted to compare Rehaief's version of events with Lynch's book.

But most people appeared impressed by Rehaief.

"This is like meeting Mother Teresa. He's a very good person," said Berylann Lewis, 50, the town's postmaster.

The day's celebration started with a ceremony at a small garden named for Rehaief in front of Palestine's post office. Lewis presented the Iraqi with a ceramic crock labeled "Palestine," apple butter and a bushy yellow mum to plant in the garden.

Rehaief warmly thanked his hosts. But, he told a crowd of reporters, he didn't regard himself as a hero. "I am lucky to be here and alive. The real heroes are Jessica and the soldiers American who come to give my family the freedom," he said.

He was then taken on a tour of the Palestine area, driving over hills ablaze with golden, crimson and orange leaves. Yellow ribbons still fluttered from telephone poles, mementos of the celebration of Lynch's return in July. A sign at Tiger Paw Florist in central Elizabeth read "Thank You Mohammed."

Rehaief went on to a reception at the Elizabeth library. Volunteers had laid out a feast: ham- and chicken-salad sandwiches, Fritos, Waldorf salad, even an orange-and-white sheet cake reading "Welcome Mohammed Odeh Rehaief."

The bad news: It was the first day of Ramadan, and Muslims traditionally fast during the day.

Rehaief and his family "will be glad to visit with everyone, but they will not be joining us" in eating, Lewis explained to the crowd.

Although Rehaief did not meet Lynch, he asked one of her cousins at the reception to deliver a get-well card to her. Carefully, he wrote the message: "With my best wishes. You are a hero."

Sgt Sostand
10-28-03, 07:57 PM
She have no respect

10-28-03, 08:38 PM
Army of ONE! (Self)

Take care-Steve

10-28-03, 10:03 PM
I can understand her need to recover but,there's always time to greet someone you saved your butt! At least I know I would take time too.It' just common courtesy.

10-28-03, 11:23 PM
One million thats it, she should of held out. Army of One

10-29-03, 03:26 AM
That about sums it up for me! She doesn't mind coming out in the open when money is involved!