THE most famous PoW of the Iraq conflict, US Army Private First Class Jessica Lynch, has been decorated.
Pte Lynch was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Prisoner of War medals during a ceremony at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
She was to be released from hospital yesterday and flown by military helicopter to Parkersburg, West Virginia - the first stop on a trip back to her nearby hometown of Palestine.
Pte Lynch, 19, with the 507th Maintenance Company, was rescued on April 1 from an Iraqi-held hospital in the southern town of Nasiriyah where she had been held for more than a week, prompting headlines across the world of "Saving Private Lynch".
A spokeswoman for West Virginia Governor Bob Wise said Pte Lynch would be honoured in a ceremony in the town of Elizabeth, close to her hometown of Palestine.
Elizabeth was chosen for the ceremony because it was better equipped to handle the hundreds of reporters covering the story.
Pte Lynch was expected to read a statement at the ceremony but take no questions.
Initial news reports said Pte Lynch fiercely fought Iraqi soldiers after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds when her convoy of supply trucks was ambushed on March 23 after taking a wrong turn, killing 11 of the 33 soldiers. Those reports were wrong.
An official report released earlier this month said Pte Lynch was injured when the Humvee she was traveling in crashed into the back of a truck.
She was captured and later rescued from an Iraqi hospital.
Pte Lynch reportedly has no memory of the incident.
The homecoming for Pte Lynch will take place as US troops in Iraq lost another soldier to an attack and the UN Security Council began taking its first hard look at post-war Iraq.
The soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were ambushed and killed in Baghdad.
The UN Security Council is expected to hear from members of the interim Iraqi governing council selected by the occupation authorities.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday the creation of the council on July 13 was a "positive step."
The 25 members of the council were hand-picked by US civilian administrator Paul Bremer, who retains veto power over their decisions. Mr Annan is to open the session with a firm warning to "the US-British occupiers" that for the majority of Iraqis, living conditions "have not improved and might be worse" than before the invasion.