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Lynch's rescuers: 'We're here to take you home'

Rescue team also recovered nine bodies

Lynch and Piestewa
Pfcs. Jessica Lynch, left, and Lori Piestewa are shown at Fort Bliss, Texas, in this photo from February. Piestewa was the first American female soldier killed in the war.

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DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- One of the first soldiers to find Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch in an Iraqi hospital told her, "We're here to protect you and take you home," a U.S. Central Command spokesman told reporters Saturday, offering new details of her rescue this week.

Lynch, 19, and several members of her unit, the 507th Maintenance Company based at Fort Bliss, Texas, were listed as missing after they made a wrong turn near Nasiriya on March 23 and were ambushed by Iraqi soldiers.

Five other members of the unit were later seen on Iraqi TV and are listed as prisoners of war.

The team that rescued Lynch also recovered the bodies of nine soldiers -- seven from the 507th, one from the 3rd Division and one who has not been identified -- who were killed in the ambush. (List of dead)

Lynch's parents, Greg and Dee Lynch, flew to Germany on Saturday to visit their daughter, who is in intensive care at a military hospital at Ramstein Air Base.

At a news conference before their flight, the Lynches were told about the identification of the seven 507th members, including the first American female soldier killed in the war. (Families mourn)

"Our hearts are really saddened for her other troop members and the other families," Greg Lynch said, his voice halting.

Lynch's dog tags were reportedly found Saturday by U.S. Marines in the home of a suspected Baath party representative near the hospital. She was a supply clerk with the 507th.

The rescue team that raided the hospital in the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriya early Wednesday local time included U.S. Army Rangers, Special Forces, Navy SEALs, Marines, and Air Force pilots and combat controllers, U.S. Central Command spokesman Gen. Victor Renuart said.

Renuart gave this account:

Team members found Lynch in a hospital room lying in a bed with a sheet over her head. The Saddam Hospital had been doubling as a military post.

A soldier called her name. Lynch didn't respond but lowered the sheet.

The soldier said, "Jessica Lynch, we're United States soldiers here, and we're here to protect you and take you home."

Renuart said the soldier took off his helmet and approached Lynch, who looked up and said, "I'm an American soldier, too."

Mindful of her injuries, the rescuers strapped her to a stretcher and carried her down a dark stairwell, out the front door of the hospital and into a waiting helicopter, Renuart said. (Full story)

En route to the aircraft that would take her to a field hospital, Lynch held the hand of one of her rescuers.

"Please, don't let anybody leave me," she said.

Lynch family
Jessica Lynch's parents and her brother talk to reporters before flying to Germany.

Later examination would show that Lynch had broken legs, a broken arm, gunshot wounds and a fractured disc in her back. (Full story)

Renuart said the rescue involved a diversion tactic, with one group from the rescue team drawing the attention of Iraqi militia at the hospital. At the same time, Marines landed by helicopter.

The assault team persuaded a local physician to lead them to Lynch's room. The same man also told them that they could find the remains of other U.S. soldiers in the hospital's morgue or buried nearby, Renuart said. (Full story)

Renuart said that as the mission progressed, daylight was approaching Nasiriya. The rescue team was quickly losing its cover of darkness. The soldiers wanted to retrieve the bodies found in graves, believing they were U.S. soldiers, but they did not have shovels.

They dug with their bare hands, Renuart said.

"And they wanted to do that very rapidly so that they could race the sun and be off the site before the sun came up," Renuart said, calling the entire mission "a great testament to the will and desire of coalition forces to bring their own home."

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