Jessica Lynch has angrily accused the Pentagon of using her for propaganda.

The 20-year-old private, portrayed as a female Rambo after she was captured by Iraqis during a blazing gun battle and then freed by American troops, told ABC there was no reason for her rescue from an Iraqi hospital to be filmed.

“They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff,” Lynch said in an interview with Diane Sawyer that airs Tuesday, Veterans Day.

“Yeah, it’s wrong,” Lynch said. “I don’t know why they filmed it, or why they say the things” they said.

That footage of U.S. commandos wheeling a grimacing Lynch to a waiting chopper was among the most dramatic of the war – and helped cement her image as a female warrior.

But Lynch said the true heroes were the soldiers who saved her.

“They’re the ones that came in to rescue me,” she said. “I’m so thankful that they did what they did; they risked their lives. They are my heroes.”

She also disputed the Pentagon’s early version of her capture by Iraqis, which suggested she had heroically defended herself – going down only after firing all her ammo.

Lynch says her M-16 jammed and she never got off a shot.

“My weapon did jam and I did not shoot, not a round, nothing,” she said simply.

There was no immediate response from the Pentagon, which awarded Lynch a Purple Heart for her injuries.

ABC released excerpts of Lynch’s first television interview yesterday after the Daily News obtained a copy of Lynch’s authorized biography and revealed its most shocking secret – that she was raped by her Iraqi captors.

She has no memory of the rape. The book says there was a three-hour gap after her capture, a blank in her mind, during which she was assaulted.

“Even just the thinking about that, that’s too painful,” she told Sawyer.

Lynch said she was awakened from her stupor by searing pain.

“I seriously thought I was going to be paralyzed for the rest of my life,” she told ABC.

The young soldier said at first she did not trust her Iraqi doctors – and tried to stifle her screams.

Trapped in her bed, Lynch said, she tried to tame her terror by thinking about her family, her fiance, Sgt. Ruben Contreras, and her G.I. buddy Lori Piestewa.

After she was rescued, she learned Piestewa was dead.

In her book, “I Am a Soldier, Too,” author Rick Bragg says the scars on Lynch’s body and medical records indicate she was anally raped, and he tells the reader to “fill in the blanks of what Jessi lived through on the morning of March 23, 2003.”

Lynch says her unit was sent into battle armed only with M-16s – no grenades or anti-tank weapons – and in lumbering trucks that could not keep up with the convoy barreling toward Baghdad. When the trucks in her unit tried to catch up, radio contact with the main convoy was lost – and so were they.

She was filled with foreboding. “Jessi’s fear of being left behind was beginning to come true,” Bragg wrote.



(c) 2003, New York Daily News.

Visit the Daily News online at http://www.nydailynews.com/

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-11-07-03 1904EST



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