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Sunday, April 13

'You're all right,' mother tells released POW daughter

By Nadra Kareem | El Paso Times

EL PASO, Texas - They knew she was going to be all right. And when they saw her on television, their long, anxious wait came to an abrupt end.

The anxiety Claude and Eunice Johnson suffered since their daughter, Spc. Shoshana Johnson, was taken prisoner on March 23 turned to joy Sunday when they saw U.S. Marines escort her to safety.

Johnson, 30, a member of Fort Bliss' 507th Maintenance Company, had been a prisoner of war in Iraq since she and five others were taken by Iraqi forces in a firefight near Nasiriyah.

``I knew she would survive, I know she was scared, but I knew by her praying, she would get through it,'' Eunice Johnson said hours after her daughter was released near Tikrit, Iraq.

Sunday evening, when Eunice Johnson spoke to her newly liberated daughter on the telephone from Kuwait City, she repeated the words, ``You're all right. You're all right'' to reassure her. Johnson had just told her mother that she had been wounded in the ankle and calf and would have surgery today.

Claude Johnson told his daughter in his brief conversation: ``It is so, so very good to hear from you.''

Johnson also spoke briefly with her sisters, Nikki and Erika, and her daughter, Janelle, 2. She lightened the serious conversation by expressing concern about being photographed with braided hair that needed restyling.

Her mother cried out in disbelief: ``Shana, you're worrying about your hair!''

Johnson and four other POWs appeared healthy as they were shown on television, wearing worn-looking, pajama-like clothing. Theresa Rowland, Johnson's best friend of 10 years, started crying when she saw Johnson being escorted.

``I started screaming ... we were just going crazy,'' Rowland said when she first learned of her friend's release.

Johnson, a graduate of Andress High School, may be flown to Germany to be treated for her wounds. Her parents said they might fly to Germany if their daughter is sent there.

After Johnson recovers, Eunice Johnson knows just the trip she would like her daughter to make.

``She was born in Panama but has never been back (since leaving as a baby),'' Eunice Johnson said. ``All the Panamanians have been praying for her. She has to go back.''