FORT BLISS, Texas – Relatives of soldiers missing from the 507th Maintenance Company spent Wednesday fearing the worst after learning that 11 bodies -- some of them believed to be Americans -- had been found during the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital.
"With every day that passes, it just gets worse," said Amalia Estrella-Soto, mother of 18-year-old Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto of El Paso. "It's another day without knowing anything."
Her son and Lynch, a 19-year-old supply clerk, were among 15 soldiers of the 507th who were attacked March 23 near Nasiriyah, a major crossing point on the Euphrates River northwest of Basra.
The Defense Department said two were killed and Lynch was one of eight who were missing. Another five are listed as prisoners of war.
Acting on a tip, U.S. special forces rescued Lynch late Tuesday at a hospital behind Iraqi lines. The bodies discovered with her were still being identified, Army Maj. Rumi Nielson-Green said at Central Command headquarters in Doha, Qatar. At least some were believed to be Americans.
"We can't live like this. This is not living -- waiting, not knowing," Amalia Estrella-Soto, 42, told The Associated Press in Spanish, her voice trembling.
Some relatives hoped Lynch's discovery would at least lead to more information about her fellow soldiers.
"I'm just sitting here hoping if they find one, maybe they will find some more," said Jack Dowdy, father of missing Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland.
"I'm glad they rescued her. She's only 19. That poor baby ...," said Janie Kiehl, mother of missing Spc. James Kiehl, 22, of Comfort, Texas. "I'm hoping they found some other news too, and that maybe she knows something."
Lynch was flown to Germany for medical treatment. Her condition was not disclosed, but U.S. officials said she was believed to have broken legs, a broken arm and at least one gunshot wound.
Her family in tiny Palestine, W.Va., smiled Wednesday as they praised Lynch's rescuers. But Gregory Lynch Sr. said he knows how parents of the other soldiers were feeling.
"Our hearts are really saddened over it," he said. "I feel really sorry for the parents of the other families.
Among the missing is Pfc. Lori Piestewa, a 23-year-old Hopi from Tuba City, Ariz., who is one of the very few American Indian women in the military. Family spokeswoman Myra Draper said the family had not talked to anyone from the Army since Lynch's rescue.
"They were pretty excited for Jessica's family and were very happy," Draper said. "It brought a whole new level of hope to them."
Javier Contreras said it was difficult not knowing the status of his missing cousin, 35-year-old Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Villareal Mata of El Paso.
"The family hopes they get everybody out, period. It gives them something to hang onto," Contreras said. "We don't know if they're still trying to find him."
Norman Walters, father of missing Sgt. Donald Ralph Walters of Salem, Ore., said his 33-year-old son has a strong spirit, and knows somehow that his son is still alive. "I just have that feeling," he said.
He said he was getting moral support from a former POW during the Vietnam War who told him the enemy doesn't "want you dead. They'll torture you and break bones. But they don't want you dead because then you aren't any good" to them.
The five POWs from the 507th have been shown on Iraqi television. They included Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 30, of El Paso.
"I am very happy that there is closure for (Lynch's) family and that she is on her way home," said Johnson's father, Claude. "That's all I ask for all the POWs and MIAs."
Lynch's rescue was welcome, albeit nerve-racking news, to Anecita Hudson, mother of Army Spc. Joseph Hudson, a 23-year-old POW from Alamogordo, N.M. "I'm hoping still," she said. "My son is over there. I just feel overwhelmed."
The family of Army Pfc. Patrick Miller of Park City, Kan., said they, too, have heard nothing about the POW's fate.
"There is hope for Patrick -- we got one back," said Ron Pracht, minister of Olivet Southern Baptist Church in Wichita. Pracht married Miller to his wife, Jessa, shortly before the soldier was deployed.
Amalia Estrella-Soto took some comfort in knowing that troops were still looking for her son.
"I know they will bring him back to us," she said.