Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local News

August 27, 2013

Former Prisoners of War to tell their stories for National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Former Iraq War POW Shoshana Johnson to speak

ANDERSONVILLE — National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day is Sept. 20. In honor of that day, the National Park Service, the Friends of Andersonville and Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) are hosting the 8th Annual POW Convocation program Sept. 18. In addition, a special community program has been added to the calendar on Sept.19 at the Rylander Theatre. The public is invited to both of these free events in observance of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War and the 10th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 2013 POW Convocation is at 11 a.m. Sept. 18 in the Jackson Hall Auditorium on the campus of GSW. This year’s featured speaker is Bill Norwood. Held as a POW between 1951-53, Norwood founded the Korean War Ex-POW Association in 1976.

Iraq War POW Shoshana N. Johnson will speak in a special community program at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Rylander Theatre in downtown Americus. A second-generation Army veteran, Johnson joined the U.S. Army in September 1998. She received orders in February 2003 to deploy to Iraq as a food service specialist (92G) with the 507th Maintenance Company, 5/52 Battalion 11th Brigade. On March 23, 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Johnson’s convoy was ambushed in the city of an-Nasiriyah. She received a bullet wound to her ankle, causing injuries to both legs, and was captured along with several other members of her company as prisoners of war. House raids conducted by U.S. Marines resulted in the successful rescue of Johnson and six fellow POWs on the morning of April 13. Her military decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War Medals.

Johnson retired from the Army on an honorable discharge on Dec. 12, 2003. Since her retirement, she has earned two associate’s degrees from El Paso Community College and is now pursuing a degree in Multidisciplinary Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso. The first black woman to be held as a POW in U.S. history, Johnson tells her story in the bestselling memoir, “I’m Still Standing: From Captured Soldier to Free Citizen — My Journey Home.”

Johnson will also be at the National Prisoner of War Museum at Andersonville National Historic Site from 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Sept. 20 in observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

These programs begin a series of area events in recognition of National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The annual “The Ride Home” event will bring the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall to the GSW campus. The wall is a three-fifths replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and is nearly 300 feet in length. Other ceremonies to remember military service members still listed as Missing in Action and to honor former POWs will also occur on the campus of GSW. More information on the “The Ride Home” event may be found at http://theridehome.com/

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