THE IRAQ CONFLICT: PRISONERS OF WAR - `I Don't Know How the Guys in Vietnam Made It. I Wouldn't Have'
Gumbel, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)
THIS WAS not the war that Specialist Shoshana Johnson had envisaged for herself as a humble cook with the US Army's 507th Maintenance Company. Ambushed, shot in both feet, paraded on Iraqi television and held as a prisoner of war for three nerve-racking weeks, she experienced the depths of fear before being rescued by the marines along with six fellow prisoners at the weekend.
"Oh my God, I'm going home!" she exclaimed, through tears, as she realised her ordeal was over. All seven prisoners of war described in minute detail yesterday how they were captured, questioned and shunted from prison to prison, never quite knowing from day to day whether they would live or die.
Although they were roughed up and kicked when they first surrendered to Iraqi forces, the seven - five members of a logistics convoy and two pilots from a downed Apache helicopter - were not physically mistreated thereafter and received regular meals. Three of the soldiers who suffered gunshot wounds during an ambush on the Maintenance Company outside Nasiriyah underwent surgery and received medicine.
"More than once, a doctor said that they wanted to take good care of me to show that the Iraqi people had humanity," said Specialist Johnson, the only woman in the group. That humanity, however, was not something the soldiers - young, culturally displaced and, above all, scared - were prepared to count on.
Private Patrick Miller said: "I thought they were going to kill me. That was the first thing I asked when they captured me: `Are you going to kill me?' They said no ... I still didn't believe them."
The seven told their stories to two American reporters on board a C- 130 transport plane flying them out of Iraq to Kuwait, where they were being debriefed and subjected to medical and psychological evaluations. Members of the logistics team were taken prisoner after being overpowered when they took a wrong turn into Nasiriyah. As their rifles jammed because of the swirling sand, Edgar Hernandez was shot in the right arm, and Joseph Hudson in the ribs and upper left buttocks. The group also included Jessica Lynch, the badly wounded 19-year-old private who was rescued earlier from a hospital in Nasiriyah by Delta Force troops.
The pilots, meanwhile, made an unsuccessful attempt to escape Iraqi troops by swimming down a canal after their …
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Publication information: Article title: THE IRAQ CONFLICT: PRISONERS OF WAR - `I Don't Know How the Guys in Vietnam Made It. I Wouldn't Have'. Contributors: Gumbel, Andrew - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: April 15, 2003. Page number: 5. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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