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POW planned on cooking, not fighting

Johnson after her capture
Johnson after her capture

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EL PASO, Texas (CNN) -- U.S. Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson wanted to wield a whisk, not a rifle. When she enlisted in the Army in 1998, her mission was to become a chef, not a soldier.

Preparing meals for the 507th Maintenance Company at Fort Bliss, Texas, Johnson, 30, was getting the cooking training she sought. But that was before President Bush declared Iraq a point on the "axis of evil." It was before she got her February orders to deploy to the Persian Gulf region.

On Sunday, Iraqi troops ambushed Johnson's company, and she became one of 12 from her group to be captured, killed or determined missing.

"This was not something we thought was going to happen to her at all," said Nikki Johnson, one of Shoshana's younger sisters and an Army captain stationed in Virginia.

Claude Johnson learned about his oldest child's fate while flipping through channels to find a cartoon for Shoshana's daughter, 2-year-old Janelle. Telemundo, a Spanish television station, was broadcasting video from Iraqi television that showed Americans in Iraq's custody. Later, Army officials summoned Claude Johnson and his wife, Eunice, to Fort Bliss and confirmed the prisoner-of-war report.

Nikki Johnson said her sister had not planned on a military career although she was in the ROTC at Andress High School and their father was an Army retiree. Relatives said she was popular and outgoing during high school and was on the drill team, and they said she had a knack for getting out of difficult situations.

"She always had an angel following her around," Nikki Johnson said. "She always manages to get out of stuff."

Claude Johnson said he hopes the appropriate neutral parties will see his daughter soon.

"You need to get the Red Cross in there quick, fast and in a hurry to ensure that you make an assessment of the prisoners and see what condition they are in," said 1991 Persian Gulf War veteran. "If you wait too long, you don't know what prisoners looked like when they got there."

Nikki Johnson said her sister is a well-trained woman, and she has faith in her sister's resilience. Her advice: "Just stay strong. Keep your dignity. Try not to let them break you." Her prayer: "Hopefully her angel is still with her."

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