Lynch was held in an Iraqi hospital for nine days after the ambush, and she describes the fear she felt during her captivity as well as the excruciating pain from her injuries. "I couldn't move … It was so horrible, like I've never felt that much pain in my whole entire life."
She said she was never mistreated at the hospital, but she still feared for her life. "I kept repeating, 'Please don't hurt me, please don't hurt me,' " she said.
Lynch said the Iraqi medical staff tried to reassure her, but she was skeptical. She said she refused the food they offered her, fearing that it could be poisoned or unsanitary. Lynch said no one among the staff at the Iraqi hospital was abusive to her, "no one beat me, no one slapped me, no one, nothing … I mean, I actually had one nurse, that she would sing to me."
At one point, Lynch said, she overheard Iraqi doctors planning to amputate her leg. "I started just crying and screaming and just doing everything that I could … And they just backed off. They took me back up to my room and left me there."
Lynch says that when U.S. special forces burst into the hospital in search of her, her first reaction was panic. "I heard the Americans coming in, 'Get down, get down,' you know. And that's when I started to really panic … that's when I really, I felt like getting down on the ground and crawling under that bed because I didn't know what was about to happen," she said.
She says she heard the U.S. soldiers ask about her, speaking in English, but she was still terrified. "I thought, 'Here it comes.They're about to kill me … It's about to happen.' "
It wasn't until the soldiers spoke to her that she began to feel hope. Lynch said the soldiers told her, "We're American soldiers. We're here to take you home."
She went on: "And I was like, 'Yeah, I'm an American soldier too' … It was obviously a dumb thing to say — 'I'm an American soldier, too' — but it was the first thing that came out of my mind."
One soldier, Lynch said, ripped an American flag off his suit and handed it to her. "I would not let go of his hand. I clenched to his hand because I was not going to let him leave me here. He was going to take me out."
It wasn't until she was being evacuated in a U.S. helicopter, Lynch says, that she felt, "My God, this is real. I'm going home."
The U.S. military filmed the rescue, and U.S. television networks aired the dramatic green night-vision footage repeatedly as they reported how the special forces team, acting on a tip from a brave Iraqi lawyer, engaged in firefights on their way into and out of the hospital.
"… Anyone, you know, in that kind of situation would obviously go in with force, not knowing who was on the other side of the door," Lynch said.
It later emerged that there were no firefights at the hospital. The hospital staff said there were no Iraqi soldiers there, and questioned the need for the Americans to use force. Lynch told Sawyer she does not remember seeing the lawyer, Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, who is the focus of a TV movie that is being made without her participation. But if he did help her, she said, she is grateful.
Asked whether the military's portrayal of the rescue bothers her, Lynch said, "Yeah, it does. It does that they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. I mean, yeah, it's wrong … I don't know what they had … or why they filmed it."
But Lynch was unequivocal in her gratitude to the soldiers who rescued her. "All I know was that I was in that hospital hurting … I wanted out of there. It didn't matter to me if they would have came in shirts and blank guns. It wouldn't have mattered to me. I wanted out of there."
"They're the ones that came in to rescue me. Those are my heroes … I'm so thankful that they did what they did. They risked their lives. They didn't know, you know, who was in there."
Lynch told Sawyer she wrote her upcoming biography with journalist Rick Bragg, not for money, but "to let everyone know my side of the story … the soldiers who were beside me in that war and the soldiers that are still over there."