Helena Gudell’s Wonderland: Friendly Fire

This holiday I wanted to take a minute to honor those who have lost their lives for this country. Before I take this article to its true Wonderland potential of crime and conspiracy I want to share a bit of information about the lives that have been lost to keep this country free. In World War I there were 320,518 US service members dead or wounded and 3,350 missing. During the course of World War II 1,076,245 were dead or wounded by the end and 30,314 missing. The end of the Korean War had 128,650 dead or wounded with 4,759 missing. During the course of the 20 years of the Vietnam War there were 211,454 that had died or been wounded and 2,489 that were missing. As of February this year the number of MIA is now 1,643. And the current War on Terror has left us with 57,614 dead or wounded and 3 missing in action. Since The American Revolutionary War in 1775 to Present day 2,717,991 young men and women have lost life or limb for this country and 38,159 have gone missing in action. All gave some, and some gave all. Please remember that this holiday weekend.

Today I want to shine light on a death in the military that has me scratching my head. That is the case of Lavena Johnson. She was born July 27,1985 and as soon as she was 18 and graduated from high school she enlisted in the Army following her veteran father’s footsteps in an attempt to save her parents money on college tuition. Since her and her sister were close in age her parents would have to cover the cost of both children’s tuition and she didn’t want to put that burden on her family. She enlisted in the military in 2003. In the year 2005 she was sent to Iraq. On July 19 just before her 20th birthday she called her parent to tell them that she would be home for Christmas. She never saw her birthday and altho she made it home, it was for her funeral. The night she called her parents was the last night of her life. the Army has ruled her death a suicide however, if you’re familiar with her name then you will know none of the math in this case adds up.

When she died her parents were told that their daughter committed suicide after a breakup from a relationship she had been in for 2 months. When her body made it back stateside to the funeral home, her father started to ask questions. It didn’t look like his little girl. When he initially requested the autopsy report and photos from the Army, his request was denied. They later gave in due to the Freedom of Information Act. What he found was anything but a suicide. His daughter’s nose had been broken, bruises on her face, teeth had been missing and some were loose, a black eye, and there were chemical burns on her genitals. Some speculate the purpose of the chemicals was to hide any potential DNA from a rape that had occurred the night she was murdered. The gun shot to her face did not look like it could come from the M-16 the military said she used to shoot herself. The size of the bullet hole was consistent with a 9mm pistol. In the crime scene photos the weapon isn’t even near her body.

It is said that she went to the on post store earlier in the evening with another man to get some candy and a six pack of soda. Her body also wasn’t found in her own tent. It was found in a contractor’s tent. So is it possible that this guy she went to the store with is the person responsible for her possible rape, evident beating, and eventual murder? There are so many questions that linger with this case. Why would the Military try to cover up her murder by saying it was a suicide? Were they trying to hide the rape of a service member as they often do when they discourage women who are raped from reporting it? Were they trying to protect their investment in the contractor? Were they trying to save themselves from a scandal seeing as she died in the middle of a highly criticized war?

As a Veteran there are so many things I think the Military can do better. They can support the women better than they do. When I was working in Fort Myers in the support department before I got my security clearance, I was working with men who had been in for almost 30 years and didn’t believe that women should be in the military. They didn’t offer support if anything went wrong in the life of any of the females we had on staff. I was pregnant and there were many snide remarks said behind my back from both of my supervisors. Unfortunately for them, they were stuck in the support department never to get their clearance and I was out as soon as I came back from maternity leave. But that kind of mentality still runs rampant in the military. There are many men who don’t think women have a place still in this day and age. And the higher ups in the military do not support the women. They support the ones who have been in for 20+ years. I feel that the same thing happened in this case. I think that this poor girl got into a bad situation since companionship is rare in that area and she was taken advantage of. Once they found out what happened, instead of fighting for her they felt she shouldn’t have been there so they just did what was easier for them and said she killed herself. It is a shame that they don’t care a person lost their life at the hands of someone else in their midst. Who is to say that person won’t kill again in the future or if someone finds out what they have done?memorial day


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