Mother says son’s bravery ignored

July 1, 1993

Much has been made of the supposed heroics of Pvt. Jessica Lynch, who was rescued from the hands of the Iraqis. A British newspaper, The Telegraph, says the hero was not Jessica.

Lynch’s return to her hometown of Elizabeth, W.Va., was an emotional moment but it was not a celebretory occasion for one soldier’s mother.

Arlene Walters said the treatment given Pvt. Lynch and that not given her son, Sgt. Donald Walters, was in sharp contrast.

She told The Telegraph: “The military tell us that everyone who was in her unit was a hero. In fact, they singled out Jessica Lynch as the hero, and they are not giving the recognition to my son that he deserves.

“The fighter that they thought was Jessica Lynch was Donald. When he was found, he had two stab wounds in the abdomen, and he’d been shot once in the right leg and twice in the back. And he’d emptied his rounds of ammunition. Just like they said Jessica had done at first,” Mrs. Walters said.

Sgt. Walters, a 33-year-old Army cook, had been serving with the 507th Maintenance Unit where Pvt. Lynch was a supply clerk. The unit was attacked by Iraqi troops in a well-staged ambush.

After an elaborately staged rescue of Pvt. Lynch from an Iraqi hospital ward on April 1, numerous American media reports related how she had exhausted her ammunition before capture in a courageous “fight to the death.”

Media reports suggested there was a prolonged fight, in which Lynch was shot and stabbed, and then taken prisoner. Some 11 soldiers were killed and six captured in the ambush.

Later, however, it was learned that Pvt. Lynch’s rifle had jammed, and her injuries happened when her vehicle struck another as the convoy came under attack.

The Army recently released a detailed report of the incident which showed a single American did hold out against the Iraqis, but it wasn’t Pvt. Lynch. The report said Sgt. Walters may have been left behind as Iraqi troops closed in. He died of wounds identical to those first attributed to Pvt. Lynch.

Mrs. Walters and her husband are trying to persuade the Army to acknowledge their son’s bravery. Sgt. Walters was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously, but his relatives believe he deserves a higher honor. The Army says its investigation is closed.

“I just can’t imagine him being left out there in the desert alone,” Mrs. Walters told the newspaper. “I’m not trying to take anything away from Jessica. We just want Don to get the credit he is entitled to for his bravery.”

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