Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Flags of our daughters"

Ann McGlynn of the Quad-City Times takes note of LaVena Johnson in a group of profiles of the nine American women soldiers under the age of 20 who have died in Iraq. The material on LaVena is based on an interview with LaVena's parents, John and Linda.

LaVena had been in Iraq for eight weeks when she called and talked to her mother July 17, 2005. They talked for an hour about plans for Christmas and the new job she was going to be starting in Iraq.

“We were talking and making plans and laughing,” Linda Johnson said. “There was no distress or anything like that.”

They told each other “I love you” over and over again.

Two Army officials knocked on the Johnsons’ door 48 hours later to tell them LaVena, 19, had died.

“That was the beginning of our hell,” Linda Johnson said.

The Army told them LaVena committed suicide. The Johnsons believe the evidence shows she was murdered.