Ex-POW Shoshana Johnson: Harassment Over Star Status Forced Her to Quit Army

Johnson battles PTSD and depression years after captivity ended.

ByABC News
February 2, 2010, 8:34 AM

Feb. 2, 2010— -- One of America's best known POWs was forced out of the Army in the months after she came home from Iraq because other soldiers and officers resented her celebrity status, she said in a new book.

Shoshana Johnson, who was captured in the early days of the Iraq War, along with Jessica Lynch and four male soldiers, said the resentment peaked when she was charged with fraud, an allegation she denied and investigators dismissed.

The experience of surviving an assault that left friends dead and then being taken prisoner has created emotional problems including depression that required hospitalization and treatment that continues to this day, Johnson wrote in "I'm Still Standing."

The former Army cook, who has been described as the country's first black female POW, was shot in both ankles when her small convoy of mechanics, cooks and disabled vehicles that needed to be towed got lost and wandered into the city of Nasariyah. Realizing they had gone the wrong way, leaders of the lumbering convoy struggled to turn around in the city's narrow streets, giving Iraqis plenty of time and notice to set up a devastating ambush as the vehicles tried to leave the city.

Eleven U.S. soldiers were killed in the firefight and six were taken prisoner, including Johnson and her friend Lynch. Lynch became the most famous of the war's POWs after the Pentagon declared that she was captured following a Rambo-like fight in which she went down shooting.

Lynch later wrote a book saying the Pentagon's story was completely wrong and that she had never fired a shot, becoming critically injured after her vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed.

Johnson's ordeal got much less publicity but the specialist got star treatment at her home base of Fort Bliss, Texas, after her return home. Returning to light duty after her wounds partially healed, she was frequently assigned by her superiors to represent the Army at glamorous events and to give talks around the country while other members of her unit were stuck with Army routine.

She remembers a colonel upset that Johnson, a lowly specialist, was at a function for the base's brass and their wives. Others were angry at all the travel arrangements and special orders they had to create for Johnson to travel and for her accommodations.