Archive for Friday, May 28, 2004

Soldier in Lynch party was killed in Iraqi custody, not in ambush

May 28, 2004


— A soldier initially listed as killed in action while riding in the same doomed convoy as former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch actually had been captured by Iraqi fighters before he was killed, the Oregon National Guard said Thursday.

More than a year after the March 23, 2003, ambush, the military released new details to the family of Sgt. Donald Walters of Salem, Ore.

Walters lived in Kansas City, Mo., from May 1996 to July 2002 and his wife, Stacie, now lives in Kansas City.

The Pentagon investigated his death after his mother filed Freedom of Information Act requests, believing the Army had not given her son credit for actions first attributed to Lynch, such as fighting until his ammunition had run out.

Walters "was held separately from his fellow soldiers and killed while in custody," according to a news release from the National Guard.

"He was executed -- shot twice in the back," Guard spokesman Maj. Arnold Strong said in a telephone interview Thursday. "An Iraqi ambulance driver witnessed six fedayeen rebels standing outside a building guarding him while he was still alive. That same witness evacuated his dead body to a hospital."

Defense investigators confirmed the account by matching Walters' DNA to blood splatter on the wall where he was executed, Strong said. He died from two gunshot wounds to the back, fired from more than 20 feet away, according to Strong's account of the investigation findings.

Walters' fate drew attention because the details of his actions remarkably resemble a story circulated in the media, based on anonymous sources, describing how Lynch had fought until her ammunition ran out.

After her rescue, Lynch, of Palestine, W.Va., said she did not fire a shot. Her injuries resulted from a Humvee crash during the firefight in the Iraqi town of Nasiriyah, just days into the war.

"What upset me was they admitted it wasn't Jessica Lynch, but they never bothered to find out who that soldier was," Walters' mother, Arlene, said at a news conference Thursday.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.