Remember Jessica Lynch? The first American POW to be rescued alive since World War II. Blond, blue-eyed, and first-ever female POW.
What about the name Shoshana Johnson? That name ring a bell?
I was shocked to discover Shoshana was captured POW the same time as Jessica, but not rescued for another 13-days.
Oh, and she's black, the first U.S. African American female POW. Below Shosana is being interviewed while in captivity in Iraq, March, 2003.
By the time Shoshana came home, the army and news media had made Jessica Lynch an American hero, the girl-next-door who'd been shot and stabbed and still kept firing. Actually, she was hurt in a Humvee crash and her gun jammed before she could get off a shot.
Lori Piestewa. Recognize that name? She was there with Jessica Lynch. She was captured, too!
But Lori died in captivity.
The first American woman to die in Iraq, the first-ever Native American woman to die in combat outside the U.S. (Below: Lori Piestewa-day she deployed to Iraq)
Lori, a Hopi, was the mother of two children. The name Hopi means "Peaceful People" and when the U.S. Cavalry occupied their ancestral lands, the Hopi with stayed true, offering nonviolent resistance.
Lori believed in peace, but the army offered a good job when she had few options. It was a chance to build a better life for her children.
Jessica and Lori had become friends in basic training. They grew even closer when they were assigned to the 507th Maintenance Company as roommates at Fort Bliss. When the 507th got orders to the Middle East, Lori was not on the list to go because of an injury. Jessica's job as a quartermaster supply clerk was not a combat position, but she was nervous about heading to a war zone.
Lori had a premonition that Jessica or someone else in her unit would get into danger in Iraq, and she wanted to be there to help. She convinced her superiors to add her to the list for deployment.
Three days into the war-- disaster struck.
A U.S. Army investigation blamed the ambush of the 507th on navigational and human error, lack of rest and communication problems. Eleven soldiers died and nine were injured.
The unit had been on its way to Baghdad, the tail end of a 600-vehicle convoy. It’s heavier, slower vehicles bogged down in the sand, fell behind and got lost. After wandering through the desert for hours, the support group of clerks, repairmen and cooks took a wrong turn and stumbled into the city of Nasiriyah. They were surrounded and attacked by paramilitary forces loyal to Saddam Hussein.
Here, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Curney Russell provides a steady arm for Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson after she and four male POWs were rescued in April 2003, Kuwait City, Kuwait.
Shoshana Johnson and Jessica Lynch still suffer from their physical and psychological wounds. In Shoshana's case, the army initially refused to treat her PTSD. Lori Piestewa's family was comforted to hear, like Jessica, she never fired her gun during the ambush. Lori died a Hopi, trying to help a friend.
Click here for the memorial fund for Lori Ann Piestewa's children. Scroll to the bottom of page 3.
U.S. military recruiters target people with few options for education and employment. They sign up black women in numbers highly disproportionate to white women. In Iraq and Afghanistan African American women have also died in higher numbers.
Do black and brown lives matter?
I'm fascinated to discover little-known stories of history. Stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
I also post here about my books and feature other authors and their books on compelling and important historical topics.
Occasionally, I share what makes me happy, pictures of my garden, recipes I've made, events I've attended, people I've met. I'm always happy to hear from readers, in the blog comments, by email or social media.