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Report: Ex-POW battled for her life



Published: Thu, April 3, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



U.S. officials said she has two broken legs, a broken arm and a gunshot wound.

LANDSTUHL, Germany (AP) -- Spirited but hungry, rescued prisoner of war Pfc. Jessica Lynch arrived in Germany for treatment of two broken legs and bullet wounds reportedly suffered in a fierce gunbattle she waged against her Iraqi captors.

The Washington Post reported today that the 19-year-old Army supply clerk shot several Iraqi soldiers during the March 23 ambush that resulted in her capture. She kept firing even after she had several gunshot wounds, finally running out of ammunition, the newspaper said, citing unidentified U.S. officials.

"She was fighting to the death," the Post quoted an official as saying. "She did not want to be taken alive."

Pentagon officials and family members contacted late Wednesday declined to comment on the report.

Rescued

Lynch was rescued from an Iraqi hospital in a nighttime raid Tuesday by U.S. commandos acting on a CIA tip.

The former POW left Iraq on a stretcher with an American flag folded across her chest, and arrived at a U.S. air base in Germany late Wednesday for treatment at the U.S. military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

From Germany, she spoke with her family at their home in Palestine, W.Va., in a 15-minute telephone call.

"She's real spirited. She hasn't eaten in eight days and she's hungry," said her father, Greg Lynch Sr. "She wants some food."

Randy Coleman, military spokes- man in West Virginia, said Lynch had fractures in both legs, and her family said she also injured her arm. U.S. officials in Kuwait said earlier she had two broken legs, a broken arm and at least one gunshot wound.

According to the Post account, she was also stabbed when Iraqi forces closed in on her.

Landstuhl spokesman Capt. Norris Jones would not comment on Lynch's injuries other than to say she was in stable condition.

"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. Her father said she will be transferred to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington as soon as possible.

Other soldiers

The U.S. forces who rescued her also found 11 corpses -- some believed to be Americans -- in and around Saddam Hospital, and the military was trying to determine whether any of them were captured members of her unit.

Lynch and as many as 12 other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were captured after making a wrong turn in Nasiriyah. She watched several soldiers in her unit die in the ambush, the Post reported.

Not long after the fighting, five of Lynch's fellow soldiers showed up in Iraqi television footage 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 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," Brandi Lynch said.

To help Lynch reach her goal of becoming a kindergarten teacher, West Virginia and Marshall universities and Liberty College in Lynchburg, Va., offered her competing packages Wednesday.

And West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise said the state would finance Lynch's education at a state public college or university of her choosing.

"She wants to become a teacher, and we are going to see that she becomes one," he said after visiting the Lynch family at home.




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