The story of the first female African-American prisoner of war in U.S. military history.
Johnson was a U.S. Army cook attached to the 507th Maintenance Company, a unit of mechanics and technicians in Iraq. On March 23, 2003, she was in a convoy that was ambushed after taking a wrong turn in the city of An Nasiriyah. During an intense firefight, Johnson received bullet wounds in her ankles that rendered her barely able to walk, and several other soldiers were taken prisoner. One of them, the soon-to-be-famous Jessica Lynch, was taken to a different location and was rescued days later. After 22 days, with their Iraqi captors frequently moving them from place to place, Johnson and her fellow POWs were rescued by U.S. Marines on April 13. Johnson and co-author Doyle ably recount her captivity with deftly chosen details. Most striking is the simple decency shown by many people. Several Iraqis, such as the doctors who treated Johnson’s bullet wounds, are portrayed quite sympathetically. “I will do my best to care for you,” the author quotes one as saying. “We must show the world our humanity.” Indeed, Johnson and her fellow prisoners were mostly treated humanely by their captors, who provided them with food, clothing and medical attention. Still, Johnson brings across the brutal stress of being a POW and how it haunted her long afterward. The last section of the book, after she and her fellow POWs are returned to the United States, is perhaps the most unexpected. Johnson became a minor celebrity after her return, but she found that some in the military resented that she was being hailed as a hero. Some even felt that her unit had ineptly lost their way in An Nasiriyah and had thus deserved to be captured. Johnson debunks such accusations while still relating their sting.
A well-told memoir of captivity and recovery.