Shoshana Johnson

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Shoshana Nyree Johnson
ShoshanaJohnson.jpg
Shoshana Johnson at an NAACP dinner—July 18, 2003
Born (1973-01-18) January 18, 1973 (age 41)
Pedro Miguel, Panama
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1998-2003
Rank Army-USA-OR-04b.svg Specialist (SPC)
Unit 5th Battalion 52d Air Defense Artillery
Battles/wars
Awards

Shoshana Nyree Johnson (born January 18, 1973) is a Panamanian-born former United States soldier, and the first African-American female prisoner of war in the military history of the United States.[1] Johnson was a Specialist of the U.S. Army 507th Maintenance Company, 5/52 ADA BN, 11th ADA Brigade. During a gun fight that led to her capture she suffered bullet wounds to both of her ankles. She was freed in a rescue mission conducted by United States Marine Corps units on April 13, 2003. She was held prisoner in Iraq for 22 days along with five other members of her unit including:

  • SPC Edgar Hernandez
  • SPC Joseph Hudson
  • PFC Patrick Miller
  • SGT James Riley - 31-year-old from Pennsauken, N.J. As the senior soldier present, he ordered the surrender.
  • PFC Jessica Lynch - Part of same 507 unit but held in a different location

Life and career[edit]

Johnson, a second-generation U.S. Army veteran, is a native of Panama, and moved to the United States with her family when she was a child. She is the eldest child of retired Army Sergeant First Class Claude Johnson and wife Eunice. In 1991, Johnson was in the JROTC program at Andress High School, although she did not plan a career in the military. She joined the U.S. Army in September 1998 after dropping out of University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).

In February 2003, while serving her second military assignment at Fort Bliss, Texas, Johnson received orders to deploy to Iraq as a Quartermaster Corps Food Service Specialist (MOS 92G) with the 507th Maintenance Company, 5/52 ADA BN, 11th ADA Brigade. Shoshana enlisted with the duty of preparing meals. She says that she had no intention of going into combat. Her company's duty was to supply mechanics to repair the Patriot missile trucks housed at the post.

On March 23, 2003, one month after her arrival to serve as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Johnson was in a convoy that was ambushed and taken captive in the city of Nasiriyah. Iraqi troops ambushed her supply convoy when it took a wrong turn. There had been bitter fighting around Nasiriyah, a vital crossing point of the River Euphrates. Johnson was among a dozen soldiers in the convoy who were captured. She received a bullet wound to her ankle, causing injuries to both legs.

According to CNN Johnson's initial interrogation was broadcast by Iraqi state television.

Iraqi authorities broadcast video of Johnson, shortly after her capture.[2][3][4] CNN described this video as when “Americans were first introduced to Johnson”.

During the gruff interview, Johnson looked tense, her eyes darting quickly left, then right. Barely an hour before, she'd been shot in both ankles and captured along with five other soldiers, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was badly wounded and was held prisoner at a separate location.

Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson returning to Kuwait City, Kuwait after her rescue, April 2003

On April 13, 2003, after subsequent house raids conducted by United States Marines of the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division in the city of Samarra, Johnson was rescued along with six other prisoners of war. They were welcomed as heroes in the United States on April 16 with a cheering crowd of over 3,000 people. The U.S. Army recognized them for courage, valor, and service with several awards.

On December 12, 2003, Johnson left the U.S. Army on a Temporary Disability Honorable Discharge. Johnson was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War Medal for her service in Iraq and has received numerous awards and recognition for her courage, valor, and service to the United States. On New Year's Eve 2003, Johnson was asked to join New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg in activating the Times Square New Year ball drop to ring in 2004.[5] She has presented talks throughout the nation about her experience as a prisoner of war, and has been recognized with standing ovations from small groups to over 65,000 people at select events hosted by public and private organizations.

Controversy[edit]

Critics have accused the military and media of racism in that they focused attention on Jessica Lynch, a white woman, rather than Johnson, a black woman. CNN reported that "Lynch got a million-dollar book deal and more in disability payments from the military than Johnson. Some said it was a long standing and well documented issue of race in the military. Shoshana Johnson says reports that she and Lynch were at odds aren't true."[6]

Book deal[edit]

Johnson signed a book deal with Dafina Books to write her story with Paul T. Brown, titled One Wrong Turn, which was to tell her side of the story and more about her fallen comrades.[7]

In 2007 Dafina Books and Johnson parted ways. Johnson signed a deal with Simon & Schuster in 2008. I'm Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen—My Journey Home was released on February 2, 2010.[8]

See also[edit]

Battle of Nasiriyah

References[edit]

  1. ^ Collins, Elizabeth M. "Capture of first African-American female POW". Soldiers Magazine. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Then & Now: Shoshana Johnson". CNN. 2005-06-19. Retrieved 2012-06-01. Americans were first introduced to Johnson -- a U.S. Army cook with the 507th Maintenance Company out of Fort Bliss, Texas -- early in the war when videotape of her interrogation with her Iraqi captors was broadcast worldwide on television. 
  3. ^ Shoshana Johnson, Mary L. Doyle (2010). I'm Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen-- My Journey Home. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416567486. Retrieved 2012-06-01. A video of Shoshana being interrogated by her captors was soon broadcast on ... soldier, Shoshana Johnson, was also wounded and captured in the ambush. 
  4. ^ Patrick McDowell (2003-04-15). "POWs describe capture and treatment by Iraqis". Star-News. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-06-01. Shortly after their capture, the seven were shown on Iraq's state-run television. 
  5. ^ Bloomberg Announces Special Guest For New Year's 2004 Celebration In New York
  6. ^ "Then & Now: Shoshana Johnson". CNN. May 26, 2005. Retrieved 2005-06-19. 
  7. ^ "Former Iraq POW Johnson signs book deal". USA Today. August 10, 2006. 
  8. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Im-Still-Standing-Captive-Citizen-My/dp/1416567488

External links[edit]