Shoshana Nyree Johnson
Shoshana Johnson at an NAACP dinner—July 18, 2003
Born January 18, 1973 (age 43)
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
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal
Prisoner of War ribbon.svg Prisoner of War Medal
Army Good Conduct ribbon.svg Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Army Service Ribbon.svg Army Service Ribbon
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. Johnson was a Specialist of the U.S. Army 507th Maintenance Company, 5/52 ADA BN, 11th ADA Brigade. During the Battle of Nasiriyah, she suffered bullet wounds to both of her ankles and was captured by Iraqi forces. She was held prisoner in Iraq for 22 days along with five other members of her unit. She was freed in a rescue mission conducted by United States Marine Corps units on April 13, 2003.
1 Life and career
1.2 Book deal
Life and career
Johnson, a second-generation U.S. Army veteran, is a native of Panama. She 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 wanted to attend culinary school, so she joined the Army to save money for tuition. She joined the US 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. 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 ankles.
According to CNN Johnson's initial interrogation was broadcast by Iraqi state television.
Iraqi authorities broadcast video of Johnson, shortly after her capture. 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. 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.
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."
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.
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.