Monday, May 29, 2017

In Remembrance Of The Fallen

In honor of many fallen soldiers, I'm republishing this issue of the Invisible Warrior Report in honor of the memory of a young woman whose death, remains unanswered, and a cover-up in our Government. I hope that there are those who will continue to search for answers.

LaVena L. Johnson was sexual assault, brutally beaten, murdered, and evidence of the rape was covered up. This was truly injustice for her, and her family.

Natalie and Nat King Cole singing together  posthumously I

Unforgettable, that's what you are,
Unforgettable, though, near or far,
Like a song of love that clings to me
How the thought of you,
Does things to me,
Never before, has someone been more.

PFC LaVena Johnson with Her father John Johnson
As I watched a video of Natalie Cole singing an amazing duet with her father, the late and great Nat King Cole, my thoughts rushed forward to the heartache of John Johnson, a veteran and father of PFC LaVena L. Johnson, who died in Afghanistan in 2005. She undoubtedly has become "unforgettable" to many of us who know her tragic story. It is painful for any parent to lose a child under any circumstances, but when the reasons are under a cloud of suspicion and a cover-up, we are restless in our spirits for answers. Perhaps no one is more restless or heart broken than her parents, John and Linda.
The military seems to be attempting to move forward in trying to correct its bad record of sexual assaults in its ranks, but the mysterious death of this young woman and others, killed while serving in the theater of war, still hovers over the military, as they undoubtedly hope that time will erase the memory of this crime.

Trigger Warning! Graphic Subject!

An Unforgettable Crime

Yes, I said crime. Because the evidence is staggering. I've poured over the details of her death, read countless news stories, and watched interviews with the Johnson's, and LaVena's death is still haunting.
A young young woman who by all accounts was positive, out-going and a true patriot, wanted to serve
LaVena was an honor roll graduate
her country after 911. LaVena, the oldest of 3 children, was determine to go to college, but not place a heavy financial burden on her parents, and believed that to serve her country and then pursue her education afterwards would be a great solution. John Johnson remembers that LaVena approached him about signing up. His reaction was that of pride that his daughter wanted to forge her own future.
"My daughter LaVena was a very patriotic person she love this country and she thought she was doing something good; she thought she was doing something right. She first had discussed this with her dad. I was not in agreement with this at all because ---I just thought she was just going straight on to college. She was an honor roll student; she was a very good student ---and the most beautiful daughter than any mother would want to have. She had discussed this with her dad first and finally told me." ---Linda Johnson
 The most daunting thing any parent can do is to let go and allow your child brave the unknown. LaVena was an unforgettable daughter and friend. She was well liked; always had a smile and a cheerful disposition. That is what makes this story so painful: that a sweet person of 19 would die in this horrific manner, and that her killer, or killers still go unpunished.
Also the unforgettable way this young woman was treated by the US Army and those whom she served. Conflicting reports show that LeVena's body had contusions, she had missing teeth, a bruise under her eye and a gun shot wound to the head. It is impossible for a person that was only 5'1" to shoot herself with an M-16 military rifle. As a Vet myself, I know the sort of damage an M-16 can do up close. The most horrific damage was done to the vaginal area, where apparently acid of some sort was used to destroy the evidence of a sexual assault. But in spite of this botched cover up, and the fact that someone tried to set the KBR contractors tent on fire with LeVena's body in it, her death was ruled a suicide by the Army, and a Congressional Subcommittee endorse their ruling. This can only lead me to believe that this investigation was criminally negligent, and a huge cover-up by our government.

"We know that the people we're dealing with, lie easy as they breathe. So that's why we 
LaVena With Mom Linda Johnson
need the congressional hearing; so that people can be under oath to tell the truth. We want justice for our daughter because I believe with all my heart my daughter was murdered. I cannot look at the pictures; I don't have to look at the pictures. I've heard enough from my husband. And it took him awhile to even let me know the things that have been done to my precious daughter--- and to know that my daughter was set on fire and someone tried to burn her body--- it was heartbreaking." -Linda Johnson

The Johnson's Sharing grief and outrage "We deserve better than this." 28:00

Can you imagine remembering the last time you saw your daughter alive was when she was running with open arms across the tarmac to greet you like a child? And now you're at the same airfield months later, to receive her body in a box? This story is surrounded in a mystery, involving straight-faced liars, and an ineffective Congress who backs up rape and murder with silence.

Ann Wright, Retired Army Colonel, and advocate against the Iraq war, actively help the Johnsons to find the answers to LaVena's murder. After setting up a meeting with the Johnsons and Congressman William Clay Jr. (D-Mo) she was barred by the military from attending the meeting. No doubt this was because the Army feared Ms. Wright a former Army Col. would be a formidable person that would not accept their bullshit.
Retired Lt. Col Ann Wright
"We know the military has misinformed many military families to include Tillman family--- Karen Meredith whose son Ken was killed by Iraqi trainees--- Kemisha Block who was shot in her barracks and the family told she was killed by friendly fire-- one shot--- it turned out she was killed by five shots and her killer which was one member of her unit committed suicide right in her barracks--- and yet the family was not told this for over eight months. So there's a lot of misinformation that's going on with the families, and I firmly believe that if we can get the Congress to hold hearings and require people to come forward under oath that indeed we can get to the bottom of what happened to LeVena Johnson." Col. Ann Wright

Unforgettable Cover Ups

There are many men and women who have gone to serve in both Iraq, and Afghanistan since 911. Sadly many lives have been lost due to honorable combat. Even sadder is when some of these protectors died not by the enemy but by other means, and the military attempts to cover over the details.

Spc. Kemisha Block 
Spc. Kemisha Block was a female soldier who was fatally shot by Staff Sargent Paul Norris. Norris was an insanely jealous suitor and a rage-aholic who abuse the young female soldier during her time at Fort Hood, and somehow managed to pull some strings to be stationed with Block at Operation Iraqi Freedom. The relationship was against Army regulations, but his superiors seemed to look the other way. Fellow soldiers feared for her safety, and even Kemisha attempted several times to get transferred from Norris's command. When her plight did reach the proper authorities, Norris was ordered to stand down and cut off his relationship with Kemisha. He responded by appearing at her barracks one evening and shooting the unarmed soldier in the face 5 times. The Army listed her death as being casualty of Friendly Fire. Sadly Kemisha's family did not unearth the real truth for months. The Army allowed this crazed NCO to terrorize this soldier until his jealous obsession with her became Kemisha's end.

Pat Tillman who was famous for walking away from a lucrative football contract and a stellar career in
Corporal Patrick Tillman
the NFL, signed up to do his bit for America following 911. Because of this celebrity status his death was propaganda for the Bush Administration, and their war on terror. When Pat was reported dead, his widow first received the news that he had been killed in a gun battle in Afghanistan. His mother described his death as too contrived. It was something you'd see in a John Wayne movie.---Charging up a hill to protect his fellow Army Rangers. Sadly the unadorned truth was that Pat was killed by "friendly fire." Instead of coming out with the truth that Tillman and an Afghan Militia Forces allied soldier were shot and killed even as he called out to his band of brothers to cease firing. Rather than to tell the family and the public the truth, a deliberate lie was put in place to cover up Tillman's death.
Pat's mom Mary said in an 60 Minute interview; "When you're lied to, your brain goes all over the map, and things that aren't really true can appear to be true."

Lance Corporal Anne Dryden
Lance Corporal Anne Dryden came from tough stock. She was a sweetheart but a tough devoted Marine as well. Again another casualty death while deployed overseas. He body was found in a portable latrine following a friendly wrestling match where Dryden suffered a concussion to the head. Her parents were told that her death was a friendly wrestling match gone bad. Her mom was suspicious, but got scared away from the original finding. She refused to do interviews about Anne's death, and advised her ex-husband Scott to do the same.  As it turns out Scott Dryden refused to back down, and received completely different version of events. Yes, there was a wrestling match, but it was not so friendly.  This was re-accounted to him over the phone by someone who later just disappeared. He set out to find out what really happened. For one thing; female soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been told to never go to the portable latrines without a buddy. And then to find her body left in a latrine like that leads one to suspect possible rape and murder.  Of course, it was up to the Commander to make the decision whether press charges. Hello? Do I have to tell you how well that worked out?
Ann Wright Questions Military's Finding in deaths
"Women are supposed to go to the latrines only with a buddy, as so many rapes have occurred near the porta-potties," she says. "That's why many women carry knives in Iraq and Afghanistan for protection. Predators in a war zone," says Wright, "usually follow a rape with intimidation because the victim is already surrounded by violence and confusion. They'll say, 'You're going to be dead by tomorrow. Raping you is just the cost of war. We'll just chalk it up [your death] to unsafe security.'" She believes this may be what happened to Annie Dryden. Anne Wright

Sadly the disrespectful way many of these soldiers died, and how their families were lied to is an inexcusable shame that will not go away with time, medals, or military honors. I hope that the roll call of these men and women who died under suspicion circumstances will echo and ring in the ears of the military for years to come. Because they choose to lie to us us about these unforgettable lives.

Please remember these soldiers and their families in your special way this Memorial Day. They are gone but remain "Unforgettable."


Special thanks as always to 
Rosie Palfy
and special thanks to 
Elizabeth Grous 

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