Faith Wins Out For POW's Mom

The Early Show: Eunice Johnson, mother of Shoshana Johnson CBS/The Early Show

At Fort Bliss, you can easily tell who is related to one of the prisoners of war freed from Iraqi custody last weekend who are stationed at the Texas post.

They're the ones who are walking on air, reports CBS News correspondent Tracy Smith.

Eunice Johnson, whose daughter Shoshana was among those rescued, told Smith that she relied heavily on her faith to get her through the ordeal. It was all she had, she said simply.

"I've never prayed so hard, 'cause we've been praying all of our lives. But I really, really, I mean, I prayed," said Johnson.

And she said she just knew her daughter was coming home the whole time.

"Did you all notice that they were captured on a Sunday and they were released on a Sunday? Did everybody notice that?" she asked, adding that the 22-day ordeal ended on Palm Sunday.

While she never lost faith, Johnson said, she was still afraid and she tried to feel what her daughter was going through.

"To walk in those shoes, maybe I don't know," she said. "I would have died of a heart attack as soon as they grabbed me. I would have. Because you could see the fear in her face when she was first captured." Shoshana was among those shown in videotape released by Iraq.

Johnson said it was excruciating for her to see her daughter's image on TV.

"And I knew she was scared. I kept on seeing, every time I looked at a TV, there was that picture and there was that picture. And it made it worse. I was really, really scared for her at that time."

Even for the base chaplain, it was hard not to fear the worst. Though a man of faith Col. Frederick L. Hudson says in his gut, he feared for the wellbeing of the POWs.

"I thought they'd been tortured and killed. That's what I thought had happened to them," says Col Hudson.

But Johnson was determined to stay strong, something she contines to do.

"Someone said to me, 'She was shot; she was shot.' I said, 'Yes, she was shot, but I'm not going to fall all over the place' because she was in combat and she was a soldier," Johnson explained.

Of course, all the worry vanished after one very welcome phone call.

"I spoke to her yesterday," Johnson said. "She was mainly worried about her hair. She said, 'All these people are taking pictures of me and have you seen my hair?'

"With gunshot wounds, infection and everything. And she says, 'did you see my hair?'" Johnson said, smiling. It was proof to her, she said, that the ordeal had not changed her daughter.

"She sounds like the same person to me. When she comes home, then I'll see her body movement and stuff like that. But she sounds like the same old Shoshana to me," she told Smith.

To the people who have helped her daughter, Eunice Johnson says, "I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you. All of our prayers have worked. They've been answered. Thank you - a million thanks. I told her she had a lot of thanks to give."

Johnson still has gotten no word on when family members will be able to see Shoshana face-to-face. But the Army has told all of the families to be ready to travel for that reunion at any time.
  • Tatiana Morales

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