Jessica Lynch was just 19 when the world first saw her — a broken, blond soldier caught on combat video in Iraq, her face wearing something between a grimace and a grin.
The Army supply clerk was being carried on a stretcher after nine days as a prisoner of war. She had been captured along with five others after the 507th Maintenance Company took a wrong turn and came under attack in Nasiriyah on March 23, 2003. Eleven of her fellow soldiers died.
Lynch had joined the Army at 18 to earn money for college and become a school teacher. This Friday, at 28, she completes that mission.
She'll spend Thursday finishing her training as a student teacher at the same elementary school she attended in sparsely populated Wirt County. Then, on badly damaged legs and a right foot that still pains her, she'll walk across a stage Friday evening and get her education degree from West Virginia University at Parkersburg.