By Chris Togneri
Jessica Lynch still has nightmares, and her body still aches from wounds she suffered seven years ago as a prisoner of war in Iraq.
Yet despite the constant reminders, even she sometimes forgets about the thousands of American soldiers risking everything overseas.
"They're fighting for us — right this minute," Lynch said Sunday during an Armed Forces Day event in North Allegheny Senior High School in McCandless.
"Never forget our brave men and women fighting for us," she said.
Lynch spoke during "An Armed Forces Salute and Concert" to raise money for the Fisher House Foundation, which provides housing to families of hospitalized service members.
The Army private fell into enemy hands March 23, 2003, when her unit, the 507th Maintenance Company, was ambushed. Eleven soldiers died in the attack, and six were taken prisoner.
U.S. special operations forces rescued Lynch, then 19, on April 1, 2003, from a hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq. She was flown to a hospital in Germany, where doctors treated her for spinal injuries, fractured bones and other internal injuries.
1st Lt. Brian Radford, a North Allegheny graduate, met Lynch yesterday for the first time since he participated in the rescue mission.
Several hundred people, including dozens of veterans, attended the event, which featured patriotic music performed by the Allegheny Brass Band and North Hills Harmony Line Chorus & 3 Rivers 4 Quartet.
Lynch of Palestine, W.Va., has a 3-year-old daughter and is studying at West Virginia University to become a kindergarten teacher.
She said she tries but fails to block the terrible memories of her capture in Iraq.
"It's constant," she said. "Even though I like to push it back and forget, it's always there. ... You just roll with it. After seven years, you learn to cope."
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski