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Iraq

Reply to rescuers ends Lynch's ordeal

©Associated Press

April 6, 2003


CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar -- "Jessica Lynch," a U.S. soldier called out. "We are United States soldiers, and we're here to protect you and take you home."

On her hospital bed, Pfc. Jessica Lynch peered out from the sheet with which she'd been covering her head in fear.

"I'm an American soldier, too," she replied.

U.S. Central Command on Saturday released the details of Lynch's rescue, as the 19-year-old supply clerk, now safely at a U.S. military hospital in Germany, awaited a meeting with her family.

Lynch's parents, two siblings and a cousin left West Virginia on Saturday to fly to Germany for the reunion with their daughter.

"I can't wait to see her," said her mother, Deadra Lynch.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Gene Renuart, speaking at a briefing in Qatar, said a team of Navy SEALs, Marine commandos, Air Force pilots and Army Rangers carried out the rescue Tuesday in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

While troops engaged the Iraqis in another part of the city, the rescue team persuaded an Iraqi lawyer to lead them to Lynch, Renuart said.

Lynch, who'd been held since March 23 when her 507th Maintenance Company convoy was ambushed, had a head wound, an injury to her spine, and fractures to her right arm, both legs, her right foot and ankle. The rescuers evaluated her condition, secured her to a stretcher and took her to a helicopter.

"Jessica held up her hand and grabbed the Ranger doctor's hand, and held onto it for the entire time, and said, 'Please don't let anybody leave me,"' Renuart said. "It was clear she knew where she was and didn't want to be left anywhere near the enemy."

An Iraqi doctor told the team there were remains of other U.S. soldiers nearby, and they were led to a burial site. Because they had not brought shovels, Renuart said, the team dug up the bodies with their hands.

"They wanted to do that very rapidly, so they could race the sun and be off the site before the sun came up," he said. "It's a great testament to the will and desire of coalition forces to bring their own home."

Renuart did not shed any light on how Lynch was wounded -- whether she was injured in captivity or in the ambush.

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