After a night off from thinking spent enjoying the company of my sister, Sweetie the three legged mostly-chow and my two sorta-beagles…and a decent night of sleep (yay!)…this bitch is feeling human again.
Like many St. Louisans I was deeply touched by the story of Private First Class LaVena Johnson, who died as a result of a non-combat incident near Balad, Iraq. PFC Johnson, who was from Florissant Missouri, died July 19, 2005 and was the first woman from Missouri to die while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. I will never forget seeing her family interviewed on local television and witnessing their pain and frustration over the lack of information they’d been given concerning their loved one’s death. It was wrenching and emotional…and I was left frustrated that this story had not garnered national media attention like other similar investigations.
Fellow St. Louis blogger Phillip Barron of WaveFlux fame has done an amazing job covering the case of PFC Johnson on his blog and on a separate site, LaVena Johnson dot com, where there is a petition seeking to compel the Army to reopen their investigation into PFC Johnson’s death.
The army ruled the death of PFC Johnson a suicide despite physical evidence inconsistent with suicide. As Philip relates in the first post on the LaVena Johnson petition site, that evidence includes “indications of physical abuse that went unremarked by the autopsy, the absence of psychological indicators of suicidal thoughts; indeed, testimony that LaVena was happy and healthy prior to her death, indications, via residue tests, that LaVena may not even have handled the weapon that killed her, a blood trail outside the tent where Lavena's body was found and indications that someone attempted to set LaVena's body on fire.”
The name of Corporal Pat Tillman, who died as result of friendly fire, and the story of the cover-up of his cause of death has held firm in the national press with good reason. Corporal Tillman was a sports hero who gave up millions for a military career after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
And who can forget the perfect script of a rescue that was the story of PFC Jessica Lynch? The war hungry media latched onto the Jessica Lynch capture and rescue story and there was even a movie made. But the truth of it all… a truth Lynch testified to before Congress…took years to come out.
Meanwhile the family of LaVena Johnson must fight for a legitimate investigation into her cause of death without the assistance of the national media or public outcry.
I wonder if her family finds any comfort in the fact that Johnson’s death was mentioned in a proposed report from the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee: Misleading Information from the Battlefield: The Tillman and Lynch Episodes.
But I know that this bitch finds comfort from knowing that I can turn to Waveflux for information about this disturbing case.
And so this is a sincere thank you to Phillip Barron for keeping up with this investigation and for seeking justice for PFC Johnson and her family.
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