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Rescued POW Lynch probably will be hospitalized a week

Monday, April 14, 2003

WASHINGTON -- As rescued prisoner of war Jessica Lynch spent her first full day back in the United States recovering from her injuries, she rejoiced over news that seven other U.S. POWs -- including five captured with her -- were found alive Sunday in Iraq.

"This is certainly an answer to our prayers and -- we're certain -- the prayers of literally millions of other concerned citizens of the world," Lynch and her family said in a written statement.

The 19-year-old private first class remained in satisfactory condition Sunday at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center, said Major Gen. Kevin Kiley, a physician and commander of the hospital.

"She seems to be in good spirits," Kiley said. Like others wounded in Iraq, she will undergo mental and emotional evaluations.

Lynch and some four dozen other wounded soldiers arrived Saturday in the United States after leaving a hospital in Germany. Kiley said when he greeted Lynch and told her he was glad to have her at Walter Reed, she said: "I'm glad to be here, too, sir."

Lynch, from Palestine, W.Va., was rescued April 1 from an Iraqi hospital by U.S. forces in a daring commando raid. She was treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for a head wound, a spinal injury and fractures to her right arm, both legs and her right foot and ankle. Gunshots may have caused open fractures on her upper right arm and lower left leg, according to the hospital.

Kiley would not elaborate on her injuries or how they occurred but said it would be "at least a few weeks" before her release.

"I will tell you the vast majority of the troops that come in with similar types of injuries have full or near full recovery," he said.

Lynch is staying in the same ward as almost all the other soldiers injured in Iraq who are recuperating at Walter Reed. Kiley said 46 service members wounded in Iraq are being treated at the medical center. About 115 soldiers have been treated there since the start of the war.

Kiley would not say whether Lynch is aware of the intense media attention surrounding her capture and rescue. Her family, staying with her inside the medical center compound, did not comment on Lynch's condition, but instead focused on the news that other POWs would also be returning home.

"To the families of these great troops, we'd like to offer you our assurances that they will receive the best care imaginable. To the media, we hope you'll be as supportive and respectful to these GIs' privacy as you have to ours."

There are specific procedures for treating prisoners of war, and Lynch, along with other POWs, will go through the standard process to speed their recovery.

"Part of the decompression process is to allow those soldiers time to recover, to reorient to their surroundings, to their friends, to their units," Kiley said.

All soldiers admitted into the medical center for battle wounds have an initial evaluation for their emotional and mental states. "Private Lynch is undergoing the same evaluation," Kiley said.

Lynch, an Army supply clerk, was captured March 23 after her 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company convoy was ambushed in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. She was rescued from a hospital in that city by U.S. commandos, reportedly after a tip from an Iraqi lawyer whose wife was a nurse in the hospital.

When U.S. commandos staged their daring rescue in Nasiriyah, they found a frightened woman who hid under a sheet when they stormed into her hospital room.

Nine other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were killed in the ambush and were awarded posthumous Purple Heart medals.


On the Net: Walter Reed Army Medical Center: http://www.wramc.amedd.army.mil/

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