EL PASO, Texas – As family and friends of Pfc. Jessica Lynch celebrated her rescue from Iraqi custody, relatives of 12 other soldiers who disappeared when Lynch's convoy was ambushed held on to hope that they, too, would be found.
Enthusiasm over Lynch's rescue Tuesday night was tempered by the discovery of 11 bodies in and near the hospital where she had been held. The bodies had not been identified Wednesday, but at least some were believed to be Americans, a military spokesman said.
"I'm glad they rescued her. She's only 19. That poor baby," said Janie Kiehl, whose son Spc. James Kiehl, 22, was among the missing. "I'm hoping they found some other news, too, and that maybe she knows something."
Maybe, Janie Kiehl said, Lynch could say the others were alive and when she last saw them.
Lynch, Kiehl and six other soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Company had been listed as missing since their convoy made a wrong turn and was ambushed in Nasiriyah during early fighting in Iraq. Five others with them were listed as prisoners of war after they were shown on Iraqi television. The Defense Department said two others in the convoy were dead.
The family of one of the missing soldiers, Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Villareal Mata, 35, "hopes they get everybody out, period," said a cousin, Javier Contreras. "It gives them something to hang onto."
Contreras says the family hadn't heard any news from the Army about Villareal.
"It's hard not knowing anything," he said. "We don't know if they're still trying to find him."
Jean Offutt, a spokeswoman for Fort Bliss, where the 507th Maintenance Company is based, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
U.S. special operations forces rescued Lynch, a 19-year-old supply clerk from Palestine, W.Va., in a nighttime raid based on intelligence information that she was being held at the Iraqi hospital; there were no coalition casualties, said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, a U.S. Central Command spokesman.
"I am very happy that there is closure for (Lynch's) family and that she is on her way home," said Claude Johnson, whose 30-year-old daughter, Spc. Shoshana Johnson, was among those shown on Iraqi television as a prisoner of war. "That's all I ask for: all the POWs and MIAs."
Relatives of Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto, 18, listed as missing, were also pleased to learn Lynch had been found.
"I know they are looking for him," Amalia Estrella-Soto said of her son. "I know they will bring him back to us."
At a Veterans of Foreign Wars post near Fort Bliss, Mario Barcena, an Air Force veteran, said he thought the rescue was "fantastic."
"I wish they would find the rest of them," he said.