Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 2 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 4 (6 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats   37 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

LaVena Johnson: Raped and Murdered on a Military Base in Iraq

By David A. Love  Posted by Amanda Lang (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to None 3/7/09

 

Flickr Photo by Ann Althouse

Have you heard the story about LaVena Johnson?

LaVena Johnson, a high school honor student, decided to enlist in the Army to pay for college. On July 19, 2005, after serving eight weeks in Iraq, she was killed, eight days short of her 20th birthday.

Pvt. Johnson -- she was posthumously promoted to private first class -- was found dead on a military base in Balad, Iraq, in a tent belonging to military contractor KBR, a spinoff and former subsidiary of Halliburton, Dick Cheney's company. She was the first woman from Missouri to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The U.S. Army officially ruled her death a suicide, saying she shot herself in the head, case closed. But this is where the story begins.

Johnson's family knew something was wrong. They had talked to her on the phone a few days earlier, and she was in a great mood as usual, and was planning to come home for the holidays, earlier than expected.

Questions were raised when Johnson's family viewed her body. There were suspicious bruises, and while the military claimed that this right-handed soldier had shot herself in the head with an M-16 rifle, the gunshot wound was on the left side of her head.

But the truth began to make itself known when the family received the autopsy report and photos they had requested under the Freedom of Information Act:

The 5-foot tall, 100-pound woman had been struck in the face with a blunt instrument, probably a weapon. Her nose had been broken, and her teeth knocked back. There were bruises, teeth marks and scratches on the upper part of her body. Her back and right hand had been doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire. Her genital area was bruised and lacerated, and lye had been poured into her vagina. The debris found on her suggested her body had been dragged.

And despite all this mutilation, she was fully clothed when her body was found in the tent, with a blood trail leading to the tent.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, the Army has refused to investigate. Through an online petition, ColorofChange.org demanded an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform..

Johnson's story is really several stories in one, and is about more than an individual Black woman who was raped and killed by her fellow soldiers. African Americans have fought in every war since the Revolutionary War, and often their country has been a far more formidable foe to them than the so-called enemy they were told to fight.

Often, youth of color, lacking opportunities at home and in need of money, look to the military as a career option and a way to pay for school. But in light of all the death and destruction of the unjust and immoral war in Iraq, fewer of them took the bait this time, and opposition to the war among Black youth has posed a challenge for Army recruiters.

Perhaps these young people were channeling war resisters of a prior generation, such as Muhammad Ali, who once said, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. ... They never called me n-word." That war was devastating to poor communities of all races, and the black community in particular, as their young men came home in the thousands in body bags, or maimed, traumatized, as dope fiends or completely insane.

It was this "cruel manipulation of the poor," as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called it, one that united people of different races "in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit."

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Take action -- click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Justice for LaVena Johnson Now

Click here to see the most recent messages sent to congressional reps and local newspapers

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Editor

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
15 people are discussing this page, with 37 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Obama's DoJ? JAG? Congress? Please I'd lik... by Mr M on Saturday, Mar 7, 2009 at 8:48:21 PM
Please explain to me where I disrespected LaVena J... by Mr M on Saturday, Mar 7, 2009 at 10:11:24 PM
... so I don't know what the point of trying t... by Mr M on Saturday, Mar 7, 2009 at 11:01:54 PM
... you're still wrong. Of all the comments I&... by Mr M on Saturday, Mar 7, 2009 at 10:32:00 PM
This is a tactic used by people that have lost the... by Mr M on Saturday, Mar 7, 2009 at 11:09:01 PM
... now I'm a "chicken-hawk" ... you... by Mr M on Saturday, Mar 7, 2009 at 11:22:42 PM
Your words: "... you are the most miserable s... by Mr M on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 1:08:41 AM
You are the one who politicized it.  The arti... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 1:10:09 PM
Did I not say that I wish to see justice and I wou... by Mr M on Saturday, Mar 7, 2009 at 11:20:27 PM
You say because it's so you can get a perspect... by Mr M on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 12:55:30 AM
With articles such as the one you posted, those th... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 3:28:54 PM
Wow, before I read the remaining diatribe on the o... by B.S. I Love You on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 12:57:45 AM
"I am copying your comment and emailing it to... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 10:02:28 AM
"I am copying your comment and emailing it to... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 10:07:32 AM
Ms Johnson and most of her fellow Americans abide ... by Jason Paz on Saturday, Mar 7, 2009 at 11:32:11 PM
War tears apart friends, family, country--Tragedy,... by Allan Wayne on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 3:05:08 AM
I'm not usually one for conspiracy theories, b... by Angela Dicaprio on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 3:21:52 AM
actually, the only thing the Army is guilty of is ... by Steven Leser on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 3:38:29 AM
It is sad to see that people who are on the same s... by Mark Sashine on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 8:00:24 AM
I really cannot believe there is no investigation ... by Lauren Worthington on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 8:51:44 AM
RAPE:  In 2003, the American Journal of Ind... by Rady Ananda on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 8:55:44 AM
Is another victim of the Military Industrial Compl... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 9:02:49 AM
That tirade was not only unprofessional and juveni... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 9:58:02 AM
Was not off topic.  Mr Lesser raised that ver... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 12:59:47 PM
you, folks do not rise that issue in your discussi... by Mark Sashine on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 12:12:38 PM
SUPPORT THE TROOPS.. BRING THEM HOME !... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 12:48:57 PM
I was very interested to see this piece and post a... by Gustav Wynn on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 11:09:09 AM
I submitted a letter to my representatives but am ... by sometimes blinded on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 1:29:40 PM
As always, I have acted.  I would venture a&n... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 2:02:12 PM
because sometimes our fervor suggests our differen... by sometimes blinded on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 2:29:31 PM
...we have here on this thread... of the cognitive... by waldopaper on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 2:57:00 PM
Would Amanda recommend we buy War Bonds? Well we d... by Patrick Lafferty on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 3:06:02 PM
Bob... do you think the managing editor removed th... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 5:45:22 PM
Bob... do you think the managing editor removed th... by jersey girl on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 5:48:02 PM
A sad day in--deed.http://www.alongtheway.org/fall... by B.S. I Love You on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 5:53:55 PM
...no- bury the rag deep in your face... now's... by waldopaper on Sunday, Mar 8, 2009 at 9:54:14 PM
The Spanish Civil War produced a democratic revolu... by John Bessa on Monday, Mar 9, 2009 at 11:34:44 PM