The Navy awarded Silver Star medals in secret to two SEALs for their roles in the controversial rescue of Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch in Iraq in 2003, according to newly released documents.

The tone of the citations differs from the majority of the more than 100 awards for secret valor that the Navy awarded to SEALs and Marines who fought fierce battles from Benghazi to Ramadi to the mountains of Afghanistan since 9/11 terror attacks. The names of the SEALs were redacted, and Lynch is not named. However, the citations refer to the date and place she was rescued.

Circumstances surrounding Lynch’s rescue, and whether the military trumped them up to bolster support for the war, prompted a Pentagon probe and congressional hearings.

Dwight Mears, a former West Point history professor who researched the military awards process, reviewed the citations and noted the contrast between those issued for Lynch’s rescue from an Iraqi hospital and those for later missions. The language in the operation to rescue Lynch was “a little over the top,” he said.

“These read very much like embellished evaluation reports, not citations for gallantry in action,” Mears said.

The citation for both men refer to their leadership of “a brilliant surgical air and ground assault to seize key areas of the hospital.” One citation goes on to state: “The strategic significance of the first successful rescue of a U.S. POW is epic as it devastated Iraqi resolve and bolstered U.S. and international support for the campaign.”

Read More: Military Times

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