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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Jessica Lynch Due to Return Home Tomorrow

Aired July 21, 2003 - 19:26   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.
Her story might sound more like a Hollywood movie, packed with dramatic twists and turns, but the nightmare and capture is all too real for former POW Jessica Lynch.

She is expected to return home tomorrow, as we told you, back to the small West Virginia town where she grew up.

CNN national correspondent Bob Franken has more on a town bursting with both pride, as well as anticipation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surely, during her most desperate time as a prisoner in barren Iraq, there were moments that Jessica Lynch never imagined she'd ever see these lush West Virginia vistas again. But now she returns to family and friends.

ARLENE SHEPPARD, NEIGHBOR: We only live, like, three miles up the road from her. So we have known her all her life. And it's wonderful that she's coming back.

FRANKEN: Questions about the circumstances of her capture are beside the point here. The evidence of celebration over her return is everywhere. The signs, the yellow ribbons, the economic opportunities. J.T. O'Rock is renting space along the short parade route to satellite trucks, including CNN's.

J.T. O'ROCK, ENTREPRENEUR: People come and it promotes a little prosperity for the area and they need that. So, you know, it all works out fine. It's great. So we're happy with it.

FRANKEN: The media also have their own village, where Jessica Lynch will make her brief public comments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The press statement itself is going to be closed public, open press.

FRANKEN: Sources say Jessica Lynch can still move only 100 feet or so, using a walker, and still has trouble standing.

(on camera) Family members say they've done about all the talking they're going to for awhile.

Meanwhile, workers are putting the finishing touches on a major expansion of their home to allow for Jessica's rehabilitation. Financing came from business, local and national. The project was done by volunteers.

Even some trustees from the local jail got involved.

FRANK HART, JAIL TRUSTEE: Proud to be here. We're still Americans. That's the main part of it.

FRANKEN: And now whenever she wants, Jessica Lynch can look around, or outside her window, and know that she's home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRANKEN: And, Anderson, when she comes home, she's going to be bringing three medals presented to her at Walter Reed Hospital at her last day there. She got a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a POW medal. And now gets to bring her medals back home -- Anderson.

COOPER: Bob, and that home looks like it's already been invaded by just an army of media behind you there.

FRANKEN: Indeed. The media are here by the scores. As a matter of fact, we're probably the primary reason that the economy has taken a jump here.

COOPER: All right, that's some good news there for the town. Bob Franken, thanks very much. We'll watch tomorrow.

And you at home can be sure to follow Private Lynch's homecoming here on CNN. Tomorrow we'll provide live coverage as she arrives in West Virginia. She's expected to make a brief statement before traveling in a military motorcade to her hometown of Palestine.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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