Former Prisoner of War Jessica Lynch will attend WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr.s annual State of the University address on Capitol Hill at noon Thursday, June 17, at the Hyatt Regency. This years event will have a military theme, according to Mike Fulton of the National Capitol Area Chapter of the WVU Alumni Association, and Lynch will introduce Hardesty.

Lynchs capture by the Iraqis last March and subsequent rescue by U.S. special forces is one of the”memorable patriotic moments”of the conflict, President Hardesty noted.

“I am privileged that Jessica Lynch, who represents thousands of courageous American men and women serving in our armed forces, will be among our honored guests,”Hardesty said.”We will never forget the words she uttered from her hospital bed when she was approached by an American soldier who told her he was sent there to protect her and bring her home. `I’m an American soldier, too,she told him. Those words speak volumes for this proud West Virginian from Wirt County.”

Lynch, now 20, was a 19-year-old supply clerk when she sustained broken bones and other injuries when her 507th Maintenance Company was ambushed in Nasiriyah, Iraq, on March 23, 2003. Her dramatic April 1 rescue from a hospital made her an instant celebrity, but she maintains her privacy by continuing to recuperate and making speaking engagements.

Lynch recently gave the commencement address at the WVU Institute of Technology in Montgomery and spoke to journalism students on WVU s main campus in Morgantown. She will also serve as the official spokesperson for Operation Purple, a youth camp for children of deployed military personnel to help them cope with the separation that comes with a parents deployment and to build friendships with other children.

WVU offered Lynch a full scholarship, financed by private donors through the WVU Foundation, when it was learned last spring that one of the reasons she joined the military was to better her life through a college education and a career as a kindergarten teacher. That offer still stands, officials say.

As part of his address, Hardesty will welcome World War II veteran Ellwood”Bud”Frum, of Morgantown, who served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Frum is one of the participants in the National Veterans History project being coordinated by the Library of Congress. School of Journalism students are recording oral histories of West Virginia veterans from World War I and II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars as part of the project.

This is the 26th year for the annual luncheon that is sponsored by the National Capital Area Chapter of the WVU Alumni Association. Reservations are at capacity.

Hardestys address to West Virginias congressional delegationSen. Robert C. Byrd, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Cong. Alan Mollohan, Cong. Nick Joe Rahall and Cong. Shelley Moore Capitofriends and alumni will focus on”A University On the Move.”