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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jessica Lynch, the soldier rescued in a daring commando raid in Iraq, returned to the United States on Saturday to recover from her head-to-toe injuries at the Army's premier medical center.
A C-17 military ambulance flew Lynch, 19, from Germany to Andrews Air Force Base near the capital along with her immediate family and some four-dozen wounded soldiers.
Lynch, who is from Palestine, W.Va., is to receive treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a huge campus several miles from downtown Washington.
Her family said in a written statement issued in Germany that Lynch "is in pain, but she is in good spirits. Although she faces a lengthy rehabilitation, she is tough. We believe she will regain her strength soon."
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. Gunshots may have caused open fractures on her upper right arm and lower left leg, according to the hospital.
The supply clerk was captured March 23 after her 507th Maintenance Company convoy was ambushed in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. She was rescued from an Iraqi hospital in the city April 1 by U.S. commandos, reportedly after a tip from an Iraqi lawyer.
Before the date of her return was known, friends of the Lynch family had organized a fund-raising dinner and auction in West Virginia on Saturday night to benefit the family.
Gregory Lynch Sr., Jessica's father, is a self-employed truck driver who has not worked since his daughter was first reported missing on March 23. Jessica's brother, Gregory Jr., also is an Army private first class who was repairing helicopters at Fort Bragg, N.C. when his sister was captured.
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.
"Jessica Lynch," called out an American soldier, approaching her bed. "We are United States soldiers and we're here to protect you and take you home," a Central Command spokesman told reporters after the raid.
Peering from behind the sheet as he removed his helmet, she looked up and said, "I'm an American soldier, too."
Residents in a Charleston, W.Va., suburb have said they are trying to locate the Iraqi lawyer, known as Mohammed. Although his role has not been confirmed by the U.S. military, a "Friends of Mohammed" organization has been formed in the state.
Nine other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were killed in the ambush and were posthumously awarded Purple Hearts.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)