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Wednesday, April 9

Yellow ribbons, flag pins inundate rescued POW's home

By Jean Tarbett, Bob Withers | The Herald-Dispatch

ELIZABETH, W. Va. - Last week, workers at Elizabeth Town Hall in Wirt County, W.Va., didn't even have a minute to open the mail until after closing time. The phones never stopped ringing, said town clerk Penny McVay.

From across the country, people were calling to offer support for Pfc. Jessica Lynch, a prisoner of war who was rescued by U.S. commandos last week from a hospital in Iraq.

Lynch continues to recover with her family by her side at a U.S. Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, but the gifts and offers keep rolling into town.

At the town hall, McVay has logged all the contributions and shipments on the way. The town received 1,600 yards of yellow webbing from a southern plastic company to make ribbons in support of the troops. The town also has received hundreds of tiny flag pins from a company in Tucson, Ariz.

``It's been a wonderful experience,'' McVay said. ``We have banners coming and signs welcoming her home and asking people to pray for the troops.''There's also an offer for a trip to Hawaii, and the state is working on plan to repave the road to her rural home.

Many calls have been redirected to Wesbanco Bank, where a fund has been established.

Mike Christman, publisher of the Parkersburg News-Sentinel, said Wednesday the newspaper is offering the Lynches - Jessica, her parents and her brother and sister - a vacation in Hawaii in conjunction with its sister paper, the Maui News. Both papers are owned by the Ogden newspaper group in Wheeling.

``The date is up to them,'' Christman said. ``The main thing is getting her back first and recuperated so she can enjoy it.''

Rick Atkinson, director of Charleston's Yeager Airport, said that the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority has donated the airline tickets.

``We will take care of them on the islands,'' Christman said.

Rusty Roten, District 3 engineer for the West Virginia Division of Highways, has sent a proposal to Charleston to give the first 1.3 miles of single-lane County Road 28, Mayberry Run, near Palestine, W.Va., a tar-and-chip treatment. The Lynch home is about a mile from W.Va. 14 on Mayberry Run.

``We wanted to do something out here,'' Roten said Wednesday. ``You hate to have a hero come home on a road that doesn't present a welcoming appearance.''

The mixture of limestone chips and liquid asphalt binder is the normal material the state uses to resurface back roads.

``And it's something we can do ourselves,'' Roten said.

Timing is the only question.

``The paperwork is going out of here today (Wednesday) to the Charleston office,'' he said. ``It depends on when we get the go-ahead on it. And the weather has to cooperate, too.''

Marie Shaw, spokeswoman for the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, said Monday that Lynch may be returned to the United States by the end of this week - presumably to a military hospital to continue her recovery. But no one is sure when she might return to Mayberry Run.

Contributions to the Jessica Lynch fund can be sent to Wesbanco Bank, P.O. Box 579, Elizabeth, WV 26143.