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Shoshana Johnson

2022 Speaker

SHOSHANA NYREE JOHNSON was born in the Republic of Panama. She attended the University of Texas at El Paso, and later joined the US Army in 1998. In February 2003, Johnson received orders to deploy to Iraq as a Food Service Specialist, (92G) with the 507th Maintenance Company, 5/52 Battalion 11th Brigade. On March 23, Johnson was in a convoy that was ambushed in the city of an-Nasiriyah. Johnson received a bullet wound to her ankle. She and 5 others were captured and taken Prisoners of War. House raids conducted by US Marines in the city of Samarra, Iraq, resulted in the successful rescue of seven POWs on April 13. Later, Johnson came back to a heroes welcome in the US with a cheering crowd of over 3,000 people. Specialist Johnson retired from the Army on an Honorable Discharge on December 12, 2003. Johnson’s awards and decorations include the US Army Service Ribbon, Army Commendation Ribbon, National Defense Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, and the Prisoner of War Medal. US Army officials identified Johnson as the first female POW of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the first black female POW in US war history. Johnson was awarded the Order of Manuel Amador Guerrero by her native country of Panama, it’s the highest honor. Johnson has penned a memoir about her experience entitled I’m Still Standing: From Captured Soldier to Free Citizen-My Journey Home. The biography was nominated for a NAACP Image Award and is a national bestseller.