Former Prisoners of War to tell their stories for National POW/MIA Recognition Day
Contact: Eric Leonard, 229 924-0343, ext. 201
Former Iraq War POW Shoshana Johnson to speak
ANDERSONVILLE, Georgia – National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day is Friday, September 20, 2013. In honor of that day, the National Park Service, the Friends of Andersonville, and Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) are hosting the 8th Annual POW Convocation program the morning of Wednesday, September 18. In addition, a special community program has been added to the calendar on Thursday evening, September 19 at the Rylander Theater. The public is invited to both of these free events in observance of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korea War and the 10th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The 2013 POW Convocation is at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, September 18 in the Jackson Hall Auditorium on the campus of Georgia Southwestern State University. This year's featured speaker is Bill Norwood. Held as a POW between 1951-53, Mr. Norwood founded the Korean War Ex-POW Association in 1976.
Iraq War POW Shoshana N. Johnson will speak in a special community program at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, September 19, at the Rylander Theater in downtown Americus, Georgia. A second-generation Army Veteran, Ms. Johnson joined the U.S. Army in September, 1998. She received orders in February, 2003 to deploy to Iraq as a Food Service Specialist (92G) with the 507th Maintenance Company, 5/52 Battalion 11th Brigade. On March 23, 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Johnson's convoy was ambushed in the city of an-Nasiriyah. She received a bullet wound to her ankle, causing injuries to both legs, and was captured along with several other members of her company as prisoners of war. House raids conducted by U.S. Marines resulted in the successful rescue of Johnson and six fellow POWs on the morning of April 13. Her military decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the Prisoner of War Medals.
Specialist Johnson retired from the Army on an Honorable Discharge on December 12, 2003. Since her retirement, she has earned two AA degrees from El Paso Community College and is now pursuing a degree in Multidisciplinary Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso. The first black woman to be held as a POW in U.S. history, Johnson tells her story in the bestselling memoir, I'm Still Standing: From Captured Soldier to Free Citizen-My Journey Home.
Ms. Johnson will also be at the National Prisoner of War Museum at Andersonville National Historic Site on Friday, September 20 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. in observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
These programs begin a series of area events in recognition of National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The annual "The Ride Home" event will bring the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall to the GSW campus. The wall is a three-fifths replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and is nearly 300 feet in length. Other ceremonies to remember military service members still listed as Missing in Action and to honor former POWs will also occur on the campus of GSW. More information on the "The Ride Home" event may be found at http://theridehome.com/
Andersonville National Historic Site is located 10 miles south of Oglethorpe, GA and 10 miles northeast of Americus, GA on Georgia Highway 49. The national park features the National Prisoner of War Museum, Andersonville National Cemetery and the site of the historic Civil War prison, Camp Sumter. Andersonville National Historic Site is the only national park within the National Park System to serve as a memorial to all American prisoners of war. Park grounds are open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The National Prisoner of War Museum is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily. Admission is free. For more information on the park, call 229 924-0343, visit on the web at www.nps.gov/ande/, or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/AndersonvilleNPS
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
About Georgia Southwestern State University: Recognized as one of the best colleges in the South, Georgia Southwestern was founded in 1906 and offers bachelors and masters degrees in arts and sciences, business, education, computing and mathematics and nursing as a unit of the University System of Georgia. GSW is located in Americus, Ga., in Sumter County, the home of former President Jimmy Carter.
Did You Know?
Two unknown Union soldiers are buried in Grave 13,718. These prisoner deaths were discovered in 1899 when heavy rains exposed their remains within the prison site. It is thought that they died as a result of suffocation from a cave-in or a shelter or well.