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Ex-POW planned on cooking, not fighting


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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.

In Iraq on March 23, her company was ambushed and she was one of 12 from her group to be captured, killed or determined missing.

On Sunday, she was one of seven missing U.S. troops who turned up safe and sound near Tikrit, according to U.S. military and family sources.

"We are ecstatic that she is safe," her family said in a statement in Texas. "We are grateful for all worldwide prayers."

Claude Johnson had learned about his oldest child's capture 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, in an earlier interview, 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."


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