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Tuesday, April 15

Officer assisting Lynch family recounts stay in Germany

By Bob Withers | The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch is alert and handling her recovery well, says a West Virginia military man who spent nearly a week with the Lynch family in Germany.

Maj. Mike Cadle, public affairs officer for the West Virginia National Guard, accompanied the 19-year-old former prisoner of war's parents, siblings and cousin at their request from Charleston to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany on April 5 to help guide them through contacts with the media.

During the family's week in Germany, Cadle had a chance to visit once with the wounded soldier, who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital April 1.

"She looked like someone who had been injured, but she was very much alert, interacting with her parents, the support staff and the chaplain,'' he said. ``She was fully capable of carrying on a full conversation and initiating some good-natured teasing between her and her siblings. She seemed to be handling her pain very well.''

Lynch was flown last weekend to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, where she remains in satisfactory condition, according to a news release Tuesday. The medical center is treating 30 Iraqi war casualties.

Cadle became involved with the family shortly after Lynch was captured in Nasiriyah, Iraq, on March 23.

"Since there is no active-duty installation in the state, the National Guard notifies families about casualties and those who are declared missing in action or prisoners of war,'' he said Tuesday.

Several days after Lynch's rescue, Cadle joined the family on the 11-hour flight to Ramstein Air Base, near Landstuhl.

Cadle helped Greg Sr. and Deadra Lynch, Jessica Lynch's parents, and her brother, Greg Lynch Jr., meet the news media April 8 and helped arrange for most of them to give blood two days later to help ease the blood shortage that goes along with war.

``There was significant media interest in this full-blown press conference among our national media and the international media,'' Cadle said, adding that 93 representatives of the press and the networks asked questions of the family for about 15 minutes. ``The family did not want to do one-on-one interviews, but they handled all the media attention very well.''

Some of the credit, he said, is the media's.

``They were very good to the family,'' he said. ``They were sensitive when they needed to be. They realized they had a daughter who had been pretty well banged up, and they were sensitive to the family's needs.''

Cadle said the family isn't talking much, but it's not because of advice from the military.

``They are focusing all their efforts on her recovery,'' he said.

Cadle spent his days in Landstuhl's public affairs office, helping field media calls. But other than the two public events that involved the family and their visits with Jessica Lynch, the family stayed pretty close to the Fisher House, lodging provided by the medical center for families of patients.

``They had a movie archive, so we watched movies like `Mission Impossible' and a lot of television,'' Cadle said. ``Each apartment had a living room, bedroom and bath. The reception area had a living area with a big-screen TV, toys for the kids and shelves full of books, a dining room and a kitchen.''

Oh, yes, the food.

``Volunteers brought in food every day,'' he said, listing pot roast with potatoes and carrots, lasagna and chicken and broccoli casseroles as being among the selections. ``You could think about any dish you wanted, and somebody was bringing it to the house. The civilians were very supportive; they really took pains to take care of the family.''

Cadle and the Lynches ventured off post only once to eat out.

Cadle said the family did not stay with their injured loved one around the clock, but were generally limited to visits of 30 minutes to more than two hours every morning, afternoon and evening.

``Those times varied because of the therapy,'' he said. ``And the fact that she needed her rest.''

Cadle returned to the states April 11, a day ahead of the Lynches, because the Army sent another public affairs officer, Sgt. Maj. ``Kiki'' Bryant, who lives in the Washington area and could support the family during Jessica's stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.