Local soldier supports rescue, enters Basra

Published 1:24 pm Wednesday, April 23, 2003

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
One of the most intriguing stories to come from the war in Iraq was the rescue of POW Jessica Lynch. While few know the details of the mission, one Brewton soldier's unit played a role in making the rescue a success.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Hutchins, attached to the Air Force's 322nd ELRS Unit, was among those that provided fuel to the troops that went into an Iraqi hospital and found Lynch and the bodies of 12 people - nine confirmed to be those of American soldiers.
In addition to the rescue mission, Hutchins also helped in another key operation - the taking of the Iraqi city of Basra, one of the key major cities in the southern part of the country.
Hutchins, a 1987 graduate of T.R. Miller High School, has been in contact with family members in Brewton: his parents, Linda and Johnny Hutchins, as well as his two sisters, Julie and Jennifer, and brother, Keith. His mother said they have heard from their son several times over the past few weeks. She said most of the discourse has been via email, but that he did make one call by satellite phone, just prior to his embarkment into Basra.
Hutchins is a 15-year veteran of the Air Force. He is stationed in Valdosta where his wife, Chalice, and their two children, Brittany, 12, and Tanner, 6, currently reside. His mother said that her son expressed some sadness regarding the living conditions for the people of Iraq, especially the children he has passed.
Linda Hutchins said it has been difficult at times, especially during the week prior to entering Basra which is the longest stretch the family went without hearing from Joseph.
But, during most conversations Linda Hutchins said her son has been in good spirits. She gives some credit for that to the people here at home.
When Hutchins returns home he is sure to get a hero's welcome from his family.

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