Jessica Lynch: The War's First Hero

Starting Point
March 2003: Three days after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, enemy forces capture 19-year-old Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch in an attack on her convoy.

Fever Pitch
Eight days later, the Pentagon releases a five-minute video of Lynch's dramatic "rescue" from an Iraqi hospital and discloses that she had been abused by her captors. Lynch later accuses the military of exaggerating her story and turning it into propaganda.

Present Day
Now a sophomore studying education at West Virginia University, Lynch has a 16-month-old daughter with her fiancé. She also runs a charitable organization that collects stuffed animals for hospitalized children. In 2007, she testified to Congress about the military's misleading portrayal of her story. She still gets hate mail accusing her of lying about the rescue effort. "If they want to take out their hatred on me, that's OK," she tells NEWSWEEK. "At this point, I don't really stress about it."