Army Private LaVena Lynn Johnson, RIP
by Elizabeth Higgs
the U.S. Department of Defense, Private
LaVena Lynn Johnson killed herself on July 19, 2005, eight days
before her twentieth birthday. Exactly how did she end her life?
She punched herself in the face hard enough to blacken her eyes,
break her nose, and knock her front teeth loose. She douched with
an acid solution after mutilating her genital area. She poured a
combustible liquid on herself and set it afire. She then shot herself
in the head. Despite this massive self-inflicted trauma, she somehow
managed to drag her then fully clothed body into the tent of a KBR
contractor, leaving a trail of blood along the way and set the tent
ablaze in a failed attempt to cover up her crimes against herself.
If this story
sounds plausible to you, you may have missed your calling as an
officer in the U.S. Army, because Army officers, speaking with a
straight face, would have you believe that such a thing is not only
possible, but actually happened.
LaVena Johnson was raped, beaten, and murdered by someone on a military
base in Balad, Iraq, and the Army doesn’t want you to know about
it. Army officers most especially didn’t want her parents to know
about it, so they concocted the suicide story, informing them that
their daughter had shot herself in the head in her barracks.
body was returned to her parents, however, her father, Dr. John
Johnson, immediately noticed that her nose was broken and her lip
was torn. He was surprised to discover that her gloves were glued
to her hands (as it turns out, to hide burns). As a former military
man himself, he also recognized that the exit wound from the bullet
could not possibly have come from the weapon the military claimed
LaVena used to kill herself. He knew then that the Army was lying
to him, that his daughter had been murdered. He made these discoveries
three years ago. Today, the Army is still lying to him, and to us.
Johnson enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from a Missouri
high school because she believed it was right to serve her country.
She loved America, was very patriotic, and she thought joining the
military was the best way to express that patriotism. Although her
mother had assumed that her daughter, a violinist and honor student,
would go straight to college, LaVena had made other plans. After
her death, her company commander described her as having been "clearly
happy" during her time in the Service. She enjoyed her job,
took pride in it, and cared about the U.S. Army.
the Army did not care about her. In fact, the disdain and contempt
in which the Army held – and continues to hold – her seems to have
no bounds. Her father stated last year in an interview
given for a Missouri television station that the U.S. Army "turned
on her" after her murder. I differ with Dr. Johnson on only
one point: the U.S. Army never did give a damn about his daughter.
a FOIA request for release of a CD-ROM contained in LaVena’s file
but withheld from the family for over two years, and under added
pressure from a congressman, the Army finally gave the Johnsons
the CD. On it they found horrific photographs from the autopsy that
clearly showed the extent of their daughter's injuries. It proved
that the original black and white photos of LaVena’s body originally
sent to them had been doctored. Also on the disk were damning sketches
of the crime scene that gave her parents further information contradicting
the Army's statements.
In a heart-wrenching
conducted last month with LaVena’s parents, her mother, Linda Johnson,
describes the members of the military responsible for this cover-up
as "lying demons."
whether LaVena would have enlisted in the Army if she had known
that Veterans Administration statistics show that one third of the
women who serve in the military are victims of sexual assault by
a fellow soldier. Or if she had known about an emerging pattern
of "suicides" of women soldiers who were also victims
of sexual assault.
the Department of Defense FY07 Report
on Sexual Assault in the Military,
Army remains committed to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate
action in all unrestricted reports of sexual assault," and
the Department of Defense "continues its commitment to eradicate
sexual assault in the military services."
have no real interest in stopping sexual assaults. If they did,
LaVena Johnson’s rape and murder would be included in their statistics.
But they would rather not admit that these crimes occur if they
don’t have to. So, if the victim is dead, all the better. Just report
that death as a suicide.
was awarded a posthumous promotion to Private First Class, a bone
thrown to her family, no doubt. But her spirit cries out for justice.
Please call your representatives in Congress and demand action on
her case. The telephone number for the U.S. Capitol switchboard
is 202/224-3121. Please help her parents to obtain a proper investigation
of their daughter's death. The major media have ignored LaVena’s
story, and without a vociferous public demand for action the government
will continue to stonewall.
was raped and murdered. Do not let the military sweep this under
Higgs [send her mail] is
a wife and mother living in Covington, Louisiana.
© 2008 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.