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Jan 09 2014

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What the Death of Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson Says About Us (Warning – Graphic Material)

 

 

LaVenaJohnson-Trauma

The body of Pfc. LaVena Johnson.

Ask about Gabriel Union, and many will readily give details about the actress' recent engagement to Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade. Ask about Beyoncé and get the skivvy on her 2013 CD of the same name. Ask about Olivia Pope and get the most insightful predictions of upcoming Scandal episodes. Ask, however, about deceased Private First Class [Pfc.] LaVena Johnson and all too many will reply, "Who"?

If you have asked the "who" question, know that you are not alone. And if it is some consolation, also know that a number of factors contribute to your lack of knowledge. Being unaware is not completely your fault. Mainstream media is unlikely to touch the story of LaVena Johnson due to the powerful interests that desire it to go quietly into the night. Black media is consumed with the goings-on of celebrities. Cultural blogs make these rather simple reports that require little serious journalism and research their focus and top priority. As a result, the broader community masters the scoop on the rich and famous as if this demonstrates being in the know on key issues of our times. And [black] politicians are unlikely to risk their political fortunes on the tragedy involving some 19-year old black girl. And as if the death of Pfc. Johnson is not sad enough, after answering the "who" question, one is left with another equally disturbing question. How?

Thanks to a film documentary The Silent Truth, reports on alternative media such as Democracy Now, and a recent article that appeared on The MadMan Chronicles, the story of this young lady is regaining much needed attention. 

LaVenaJohnson-M16

SO WHO WAS U.S. ARMY PRIVATE FIRST CLASS LAVENA JOHNSON?

Pfc. Johnson, a daughter of Missouri Dr. John Johnson and Mrs. Linda Johnson, was stationed in Balad, Iraq on July 19, 2005 - the date on which her life ended. The Army's official ruling stated that Johnson died from a self-inflicted, non-combat "intraoral" gunshot wound. According to investigators, Johnson was depressed at the time of her death and had made overtures to fellow soldiers that she was contemplating killing herself. Johnson's lifeless body was found in storage tent owned by contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root [KBR].

 
Parents of Pfc. Johnson indicate that their daughter was very patriotic and desired to serve her country. At the time of her death, Pfc. Johnson was looking forward to a brief return home before completing her tour. Long-term plans included attending college upon re-entering civilian life.
 
SUICIDE OR COVER-UP?

 

In April 2007, the Johnsons had the casket containing his daughter's remains exhumed at Jefferson Barracks Cemetary, followed by a new autopsy. This came nearly two years after unsuccessful attempts to obtain further details from the Army. Dr. Johnson, with a 25-year record of serving enlisted personnel, maintains that his daughter was brutally raped, tortured, and murdered. And further, that her body sustained additional trauma to conceal the attack she suffered as well as to complicate identifying who committed these crimes. Dr. Johnson raised a number of issues that are not easily explained by the Army's account. Namely:
LaVenaJohnson-Autopsy
  1. How does a young lady take an M-16 automatic rifle to shoot herself in the mouth?
  2. Why no suicide note at the scene to corroborate stories of LaVena's depression?
  3. Why did investigators fail to recover a bullet?
  4. Why were no traces of gun powder found on LaVena's hands?
  5. A trail of blood leading from LaVena's body and the tent.
  6. Forensic evidence that someone tried to set the tent on fire, leaving Pfc. Johnson's fully clothed body inside the burning tent.
  7. What of trauma to LaVena's body, including: multiple abrasions, a broken nose, loose teeth, and burns?
  8. A corrosive chemical on LaVena's genitals.

 

WHAT HAS BECOME OF US?

It is unconscionable that our nation has arrived at this place where a young woman commits her life to the service of our nation, ends up dead, and little attention is given. At a time when our nation has chosen a more aggressive military posture in the world, citizens are being called upon for dangerous, lengthy tours of duty. Further, this call comes without conscription (i.e., draft), thus requiring an appeal to younger citizens who might otherwise attend college or pursue a trade. Surely, the Armed Forces must appreciate the need to take every precaution to rest any concerns about the safety of military personnel stationed on domestic and foreign bases.

In May 2013, the Pentagon released a report that highlighted the serious extent of sexual assaults taking place within the ranks of the military. The report found a 35 percent increase in unwanted sexual contact since 2010 and a 6 percent rise in incidents from the previous year. During a May 7, 2013 news conference in the East Room of the White House, President Obama announced his "no tolerance" policy regarding sexual assaults in the military:

"I expect consequences. So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable – prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period... For those who are in uniform who’ve experience sexual assault, I want them to hear directly from their commander in chief that I’ve got their backs,” the president said. “I will support them. And we’re not going to tolerate this stuff, and there will be accountability.”

Given the backdrop of a known problem and the President's zero tolerance commitment, resolving all legitimate doubts associated with the Pfc. Johnson's death would go a long way in changing the troublesome culture of sexual assault.  

Even more shocking is the African American community's overwhelming support for an African American Commander-In-Chief that has not translated into White House calls for a thorough investigation into the death Pfc. LaVena Johnson. Some might argue that President Obama is the "president of all, and not just blacks". However, when lesser misfortunes, as in a wife appealing to the President on-behalf of unemployed worker Darin Wedel, the White House responded. If the notion of "sanctity of life" still exists as a central tenet of who we are as a nation, then surely LaVena Johnson's mysterious death merits more attention from the Commander-In-Chief than the troubles of an unemployed worker whose particular solutions are beyond the scope of the White House. And if 96% and 93% of black voter support in 2008 and 2012 count for something, let it be counted in African Americans demanding justice and a President responding to this demand.

LaVenaJohnson-casket

The body of Pfc. LaVena Johnson. Posted here out of respect and to appeal to the reader that we must seek justice for this young lady. An American. A soldier. A sister. A daughter.

Civil rights leaders are likewise complicit in their silence. Al Sharpton was outspoken in the 1987 case of Tawana Brawley, the teenager later found to have concocted a story of being kidnapped and raped. The NAACP [rightfully] took a vocal position in the matter of murdered 17-year old Trayvon Martin, organizing marches and circulating a petition to the Department of Justice that obtained 1.5 million signatures. Jesse Jackson interceded during the deportation of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban-American boy whose father successfully fought to regain custody of his son in his home country of Cuba. Jackson, on his own volition, negotiated the release of hostages in conflicts involving Hafez al-Assad, Fidel Castro, and Saddam Hussein. How Jackson has been so quiet on the Pfc. Johnson matter - when previous involvements have taken him around-the-world to Cuba, Serbia, Lebanon, and other hot spots - is a mystery. And consider the outpouring of protests led by the ACLU, Amnesty International, NAACP, and other groups as the State of Georgia deliberated the execution of Troy Davis.

Juxtaposing these direct actions is the virtual silence regarding Pfc. LaVena Johnson. Indifference to the tragedy that befell the young soldier suggests unequal concerns about justice. Indeed, one might argue that the left is more concerned about bringing pressure to President Obama than it is about justice for LaVena. And that politicization of injustice calls into question lofty overtures about fairness.

Lingering questions about the Johnson death deserve answers. The implications speak to our honoring the dignity of Pfc Johnson's life, an intercessory compassion for the Johnson family, and general concern for women in the armed forces.

 

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RELATED RESOURCES:

Profile of Pfc LaVena Johnson written by Dr. John Johnson

MilitaryCorruption.com raises questions

LA Times article on family disputing Army reports about Pfc. Johnson's death

The People Speak -- an mp3 file from the April 30, 2013 radio interview of Dr. John Johnson

The Slient Truth -- video coverage of the Pfc LaVena Johnson death. Warning -- graphic material

 

 


 

 
 
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Permanent link to this article: http://kennethdprice.com/2014/01/09/what-the-death-of-pfc-lavena-johnson-says-about-us/

4 comments

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  1. Krysten

    So sad

  2. ANGELA

    I JUST LEARNED OF HER DEATH TODAY AND WORDS CANT POSSIBLY EXPRESS WHAT I’M FEELING RIGHT NOW TO THE PARENTS OF PFC JOHNSON YOU HAVE MY DEEPEST SYMPATHY. I COULD SAY SO MUCH MORE BUT I’M VERY DISAPPOINTED WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (ARMY). I WILL SAY THIS GOD SEES ALL. SO TO THE ONES WHO THINK THEY HAVE GOTTEN AWAY FOR NOW. ON JUDGEMENT DAY EVERY MAN WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Sargento Tellez

    Eric Carter, you sir at an Idiot! Your comment is soo bullshit. So let's say this, so from here on forward you are an idiot if…
    Go to Virginia Tech after the shooting that happened there, also if you go to the movies at night after what happened in Colorado, send your kids to elementary school after what happened in newtown CT, let me see, also if you send your kids to high school after what happened in Columbine, also if you drive on the highway after all those fatal accidents, also if you take a flight anywhere after plane crashes have happened.. Get my point yet??? Just because incidents happen in every walks of life, college, banks, high schools, elementary schools, clubs, parties, movies, doesn't mean people need to stop doing those things. You would still dial 911 for police assistance if your house got broke into or your at a location as a hostage, even though officers have beaten Rodney King and others right??? Marinate on that chief!

  4. Robert Boutselis

    As a father to be to a daughter, as a citizen of America, bring those to justice who have taken the life of LaVena Johnson

  5. Kendra Johnson

    Some people just don't understand….The army is full of humans although an elite group but still humans an just because you qualify to join does not stop your sick behavior. Hell you would think you don't have to worry about a priest because of his title but damn if some get caught doing wrong….we are all human and an occupation is not gonna change those hidden secrets

  6. Kendra Johnson

    I am a black female an been in over 15 yrs a SSG an have heard an seen stories like this it is horrible!!! But this should not stop you from serving your country no matter what your background is!

  7. Kendra Johnson

    I am a black female an been in over 15 yrs a SSG an have heard an seen stories like this it is horrible!!! But this should not stop you from serving your country no matter what your background is!

  8. Kendra Johnson

    I am a black female an been in over 15 yrs a SSG an have heard an seen stories like this it is horrible!!! But this should not stop you from serving your country no matter what your background is!

  9. Rishona Campbell

    Brad Meyer Obama's Grandparents were hardly "rich". You discredit yourself by spreading misinformation. Please take a seat. Thanks.

  10. Rishona Campbell

    Brad Meyer Obama's Grandparents were hardly "rich". You discredit yourself by spreading misinformation. Please take a seat. Thanks.

  11. Eric Huff

    Brad Meyer is trolling for attention

  12. Eric Huff

    Brad Meyer is trolling for attention

  13. Sandra Stevens-Miller

    Worse, Lorna, are the young women, of all colors and cultures, who are shot up intentionally as payback for when asked to testify in court, their memory has been erased. Of course, having lived in Key West, I've seen it come the other way too.

  14. Sandra Stevens-Miller

    Worse, Lorna, are the young women, of all colors and cultures, who are shot up intentionally as payback for when asked to testify in court, their memory has been erased. Of course, having lived in Key West, I've seen it come the other way too.

  15. Joyce A Keys

    I hope that the truth is found and that justice is served. May the family find peace.

  16. Broderick Neal

    We should look deeply into this

  17. Lisa Ricciardi

    This goes on all the time and not a damn thing gets done about it. Just alot of bs to appease the public. Who are protecting these poor victims fighting for our freedom? We all need to get more involved and striking up conversations and bringing awareness and a load of attention to this. Where's the support?

  18. Lisa Ricciardi

    This goes on all the time and not a damn thing gets done about it. Just alot of bs to appease the public. Who are protecting these poor victims fighting for our freedom? We all need to get more involved and striking up conversations and bringing awareness and a load of attention to this. Where's the support?

  19. Lisa Ricciardi

    This goes on all the time and not a damn thing gets done about it. Just alot of bs to appease the public. Who are protecting these poor victims fighting for our freedom? We all need to get more involved and striking up conversations and bringing awareness and a load of attention to this. Where's the support?

  20. Shirley Day

    This is so sad not because she was African-American or a woman or in the Military, it's sad because it seems like nobody cares anymore. I was in the Military myself, a white woman, and it was scarey in the mid 70's. Nobody believed you, and the higher ups would push everything under the table. ( To stay out of the news and being punished ) Thank You for caring.

  21. Shirley Day

    This is so sad not because she was African-American or a woman or in the Military, it's sad because it seems like nobody cares anymore. I was in the Military myself, a white woman, and it was scarey in the mid 70's. Nobody believed you, and the higher ups would push everything under the table. ( To stay out of the news and being punished ) Thank You for caring.

  22. Shirley Day

    This is so sad not because she was African-American or a woman or in the Military, it's sad because it seems like nobody cares anymore. I was in the Military myself, a white woman, and it was scarey in the mid 70's. Nobody believed you, and the higher ups would push everything under the table. ( To stay out of the news and being punished ) Thank You for caring.

  23. Michael Matthias

    He?

  24. Michael Matthias

    He?

  25. Shawnta Long

    I am sad that this happened and I hope that they find whoever did this to her. To all that state the military is bad, it is corrupt people wherever you go. I served 9 years in the service and I was granted and still am a lot of benefits that I would not have received from any other employer. I recommend everyone to at least do 3 years it was a experience that stays with me. I have obtained a degree and a certification and many other benefits, so please stop downing the military its things that happen in the police force, how many rapes and murders happen on campus? It's not the military it's "PEOPLE" that need to change!!

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