PALESTINE, W.Va. – The voice on the telephone was exhausted, groggy and hungry for a home-cooked meal.
But just hearing Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch speak and knowing she was safe after nine days as a prisoner of war in Iraq brought heart-tugging relief to her parents, brother and sister.
In brief phone calls Wednesday night and Thursday from a U.S. military hospital in Germany, the 19-year-old she hadn't eaten in eight days but she was in good spirits, said her father, Greg Lynch Sr.
She was groggy Wednesday, the day after U.S. special operations forces fought their way into Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah and carried Lynch through the halls to a waiting helicopter. She sounded better Thursday morning, her mother said.
"She was more concerned about us, wanted to know how everybody was and what was going on. And I just let her know that she was America's hero," Deadra Lynch said on ABC's Good Morning America.
She didn't say much about her capture, but the family was told she had a fractured disc, two broken legs and a broken arm, her mother said.
Pentagon officials declined to comment on a report in The Washington Post that Lynch had been stabbed and shot by Iraqi soldiers during the March 23 ambush that resulted in her capture, though U.S. officials have said she had at least one gunshot wound.
She kept firing even after she had been hit, finally running out of ammunition, the Post reported.
"She's a fighter. That's exactly what I would expect her to do," her mother told NBC's Today show.
But her brother, Greg Lynch Jr., stressed that the family had "no details on how she got shot or even if she got shot."
On the flight to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the military medics kept her sedated and hydrated. She didn't say much, they said, but she opened her eyes.
"She was real happy to be here," Staff Sgt. Alphie Bondak, who was on the flight, said. "She's an inspiration to us all."
The Lynches said Jessica was expected to be transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington as soon as possible, so they do not plan to fly to Germany to see her.
"She's tired and she wants to rest and come home as soon as she's able to travel," her brother said.
Lynch, an Army supply clerk, was listed as missing in action on March 23 after her 507th Maintenance Company convoy took a wrong turn in southern Iraq and was attacked. Lynch's family held daily prayer meetings hoping for her safe return.
News of her rescue spread quickly through Wirt County, population 5,893. Neighbors and friends cheered and honked car horns and shouted the good news to everyone they could see.
"A neighbor came running over, bursting in the front door crying, saying, 'They found her! They found her! She's safe!"' said Linda Williams, a teacher at Wirt County High School who taught both Jessica's parents and her two siblings.
"It was crazy," Williams said. "My phone was ringing and ringing and ringing."
At the Lynches' home, the flowers from well-wishers kept pouring in, and a relative bought a full-sized refrigerator just to hold all the food sent to the family.
To help Lynch reach her goal of becoming a kindergarten teacher, three colleges on Wednesday all offered her scholarships, and Gov. Bob Wise said the state would finance her education at a state public university of her choosing.
Lynch joined the Army after graduating in 2001. Her brother Greg enlisted the same day, and their 18-year-old sister, Brandi, will report for duty in August.
"I still want to do it even more," Brandi said. "It's the Lynch blood."