U.S. POWs arrive at German base

Thursday, April 17, 2003

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- A smiling Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson was carried out on a stretcher from a plane and taken for medical examinations at a military hospital Wednesday along with six other American POWs rescued in Iraq.

The seven were brought on a C-141 transport aircraft from Kuwait to this U.S. base, the latest stop on their return home after three weeks in Iraqi captivity.

Six of the former POWs, dressed in military fatigues, walked down the aircraft's rear ramp, two of them shaking hands with air base workers and three waving at reporters who waited about 50 yards away.

Johnson, shot in the foot during the ambush that led to her comrade's capture, was carried off the plane on a stretcher, partly covered by a blanket and wearing fatigues. Smiling and wearing a baseball cap, the 30-year-old from Fort Bliss, Texas, was greeted by applause from a group of about 20 base workers.

The seven boarded a blue bus with red cross symbols for the trip to the nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Five of the freed prisoners were comrades of former POW Jessica Lynch from the U.S. Army's 507th Maintenance Support Company, the other two freed Apache helicopter pilots from the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment.

None of the group was expected to stay long at Landstuhl. Also wounded was Spc. Edgar Hernandez, 21, of Mission, Texas, who was shot in the elbow.

The transport plane that brought them also carried 41 wounded soldiers, about half of whom had combat injuries.

Whether the seven former POWs will return to the United States together depends on their medical conditions.

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