Shoshana Johnson was an Army cook who was captured along with 5 other soldiers and held as a prisoner of war during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Johnson was shot in the ankles and held for 22 days before being rescued. Upon retirement from the Army, she went on to tell her experience and try to help others
Johnson was part of the 507th Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss that was ambushed on March 23, 2003, in Nasiriyah, Iraq. Her convoy came under heavy attack from Fedayeen paramilitaries and Iraqi soldiers after the unit made a wrong turn into an enemy urban stronghold.
The now retired Army specialist had turned 30 on March 18, 2003, five days before her convoy was attacked. Johnson and her fellow soldiers had joined the march into Iraq for the U.S. ground offensive, and soon they found themselves in the middle of a fierce firefight they never expected. Johnson was a cook in the support unit. Neither she nor the others were combat soldiers.
The former Army specialist, who prefers to describe herself as Panamanian-American, is the first African-American woman POW. She suffered incapacitating injuries after a single shot from an Iraqi passed through both of her ankles. “I was bleeding and my boots filled up with blood,” she said. “After my boots were removed, I couldn’t believe that the raw wounds with all the gore were really mine.”
On April 13, 2003, the Marines arrived on a rescue mission. “They showed up like in those action movies. They broke down the door and busted inside with their weapons aimed,” Johnson said. “They had everyone get down on the floor. They asked us to stand up if we were Americans. I knew then that we were going home.”
We honor you, Shoshana Johnson.