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Rescued POW OK After Surgery

In this image from video released Wednesday, April 2, 2003 during a U.S. Centeral Command news conference in Doha, Qatar, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks briefs the media on the rescue of POW Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, shown on the video screen,left, as she is rescued by U.S. special forces Tuesday night, April 1, 2003.
AP/APTN
Rescued American POW Jessica Lynch had back surgery Thursday and is recuperating after successfully coming through the operation.

That's according to her parents, who talked to reporters briefly after getting the news from Landstuhl, Germany, where Lynch is being treated in a U.S. military hospital until she's well enough to be transferred to Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington.

As the latest news on Lynch's condition spread through Palestine, W. Va., the small town where she is from, and Fort Bliss, Tx., where her Army unit - the 507th Maintenance Company - is based, many military families were anxiously waiting to find out the names of the Americans found dead during the raid that freed Lynch.

The special forces that rescued Lynch Tuesday night from an Iraqi hospital in An Nasiriyah - near the place where she and others in her unit were captured - found 11 bodies in a nearby shallow grave.

Of those, U.S. officials said Thursday that nine are American, and they have been shipped back to the U.S. for further identification.

Many of the soldiers who were captured at the same time as Lynch, on March 23, are still listed as missing.

Not long after the ambush that led to the capture of Lynch and as many as 12 other soldiers, five soldiers from that unit turned up on Iraqi television, being asked questions by their captors. The video also showed bodies, apparently of U.S. soldiers, leading the Pentagon to accuse Iraq of executing some POWs.

Lynch has been at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center since Wednesday, when she arrived from Iraq on a stretcher with an American flag folded across her chest.

The 19-year-old Army private has two broken legs, a broken arm and a fractured disc.

"She didn't have any feeling in her feet," said the 19-year-old Army private's father, Greg Lynch Sr., who says further surgery was scheduled for Friday on her fractured legs and right arm.

"She's weak, she knows she's injured and they're doing the best that they can to get her so she can travel," said her brother, Greg Lynch Jr.

The Pengaton has declined to comment on reports that Lynch fought ferociously when her unit was captured, and shot several Iraqi soldiers.

A published report Friday reveals new details about how U.S. troops knew where to find Lynch, and how they staged the rescue. According to the Kansas City Star - an Iraqi lawyer whose wife worked at the hospital where Lynch was being held was outraged when he saw her captors slap her - and walked six miles to tell U.S. Marines where she was.

The paper says the Marines sent the Iraqi back to the hospital to get more information to launch the raid. He and his family fled the area before the shooting began, and after being thanked by various Marines, they are reportedly headed for a refugee center in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasar.

Lynch's daring nighttime rescue used virtually every asset the U.S. had, reports CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan, from a battalion of Marines who drew fire as a decoy to U.S. Special Forces, who ran through a hail of gunfire for a stranger — not once, but twice.

"There were firefights outside of the building, getting in and getting out," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks at Central Command in Doha.

However, it may be some time before she is reunited with her family, since soldiers taken prisoner often need time to "decompress" and meet with medical and psychological experts.

Lynch joined the Army after graduating from high school in 2001. Her brother Greg enlisted the same day. Her 18-year-old sister Brandi will report for duty in August.

"I still want to do it even more. It's the Lynch blood," says Brandi Lynch.

Jessica Lynch is ultimately headed for tamer territory, in pursuit of her dream to become a kindergarten teacher. Wednesday, she was deluged with offers of full scholarships to colleges in her home state.

"She wants to become a teacher, and we are going to see that she becomes one," said West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, offering Lynch free tuition at a state public college or university of her choosing.