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Rescued POWs Thank Americans

Rescued POWs Thank Americans

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LANDSTUHL, Germany (AP) -- Showing the camaraderie that helped get them through their ordeal, seven American POWs who were rescued in Iraq waved at well-wishers Friday from a balcony at this military medical facility and said they couldn't wait to get home.

"We all would like to thank our Americans for the tremendous support we've been getting, and we're looking forward to coming home as soon as we possibly can," said Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams, 30, an Apache helicopter pilot who spoke for the group.

He urged Americans to pray for U.S. troops still in Iraq.

Two of the POWs playfully hoisted up Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson so she could greet the crowd. Johnson, 30, was shot in both ankles during an ambush that led to the capture of five in the group, and remains in a wheelchair.

All seven were expected to return home Saturday, said Landstuhl spokeswoman Marie Shaw.

"None of their injuries appear to be serious," said Col. David Rubenstein, commander of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where the seven were flown Wednesday from Kuwait.

"Their appetites are very good. They slept very well last night," he told reporters. "They are catching up on the latest movies and news."

Besides Johnson, two other soldiers suffered gunshot wounds: Spc. Edgar Hernandez, 21, who was shot in the elbow, and Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23. Rubenstein had no immediate details on Hudson's wounds, but he said both men had minor injuries.

Previously, military officials had only identified Hernandez and Johnson as having been shot.

Five of the freed prisoners were comrades of former POW Jessica Lynch from the U.S. Army's 507th Maintenance Support Company, which was attacked in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on March 23.

They are Johnson, Hernandez, Hudson, Pfc. Patrick Miller, 23, and Sgt. James Riley, 31.

The other two, Williams and Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr., 26, are helicopter pilots from the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment.

Landstuhl is the largest U.S. military hospital outside the United States, and so far has treated nearly 250 patients with battlefield injuries from the war.

Among them was Lynch, who has been flown back to the United States and is recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. She suffered a head wound, a spinal injury and fractures to her right arm, both legs and her right foot and ankle.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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