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New Details Of POW's Daring Rescue

U.S. Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch is carried on a stretcher off a C-17 military plane at the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany, April 3, 2003. Lynch was treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for a head wound, a spinal injury, fractures to her right arm, both legs, and her right foot and ankle.
AP
"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 released the dramatic details of Lynch's rescue ahead of the 19-year-old supply clerk's reunion with her family at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.

Gregory and Dee Lynch spoke with reporters Saturday afternoon before leaving West Virginia to visit their daughter, who being treated for a variety of injuries suffered when she was taken prisoner in Iraq.

Lynch's parents, two siblings and a cousin left their West Virginia home Saturday. "I can't wait to see her," said her mother.

Lynch was rescued in a daring raid by U.S. troops this week, but eight of her comrades were killed when their unit was ambushed.

Seven of the dead soldiers found during the rescue were members of her ambushed unit, Renuart said. The eighth was a soldier from a forward support group of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, he said. All have been transported back to the United States. A ninth body remained unidentified.

The Lynch family got word of the deaths Saturday just before boarding a plane in Charleston, W.Va. The family broke off a news conference after being told that seven members of their daughter's unit were among the bodies retrieved during the raid.

"I wasn't aware of this. ... Our hearts are really saddened for her other troop members and the other families," Lynch's father said before choking up.

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 doctor to lead them to Lynch, Renuart said.

"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."

Meanwhile, the 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."

The Americans were also looking for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, commander of southern forces. He is known as Chemical Ali for leading the 1988 campaign against rebellious Kurds in northern Iraq in which thousands died, many in chemical attacks.

"On the evening of the attack, he was not located in that hospital," Renuart said. "That's not to say that we haven't been tracking him down at some other locations and will continue to do so until we're pretty confident that he's been eliminated."

Meanwhile, Jessica has a new pair of eyeglasses and a close friend by her bedside. She has even ordered her favorite food, reports CBS News Correspondent Stephan Kaufman in Landstuhl: turkey, steamed carrots and apple sauce, although she's still being fed intravenously.

America's best-known POW was getting VIP treatment at the military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, but officials still aren't releasing many details of her ordeal or the circumstances of her injuries: a head wound and fractures in her right arm, both legs, her right foot and ankle, and an injury to her spine.

She had a back operation Thursday and surgery for other broken bones Friday, said the commander of the hospital, Col. David Rubenstein. She will need "extensive rehabilitative services" but was expected to recuperate completely, he said.

After numerous conflicting reports, doctors in Germany are now saying that Lynch did indeed suffer from gunshot wounds. She has a bullet entry and exit wound in her left leg and a bullet entry and exit wound in her right arm. The wounds are consistent with low velocity gun wounds, doctors say.

An Iraqi lawyer reportedly tipped U.S. forces to Lynch's location in a Nasariyah hospital.

The 32-year-old lawyer, identified only as Mohammed, told several newspaper reporters at the Marine headquarters in Iraq that he peered through a window at the hospital where his wife worked as a nurse and saw a sight that "cut" his heart: Lynch being slapped in the face by a black-clad Iraqi security agent.

"We owe him our life and Jessie's life for what he has done," her father said.