2003-04-03 / Top Stories

Canarsie Relative Of P.O.W. Says Prayers Will Help Bring Her Home

By Charles Rogers
Canarsie Relative Of P.O.W. Says Prayers Will Help Bring Her Home

Canarsie Relative Of P.O.W. Says Prayers Will Help Bring Her Home

Gene Madeam stands outside his East 58 Street home with photo of niece Shoshana Johnson, a prisoner of war in Iraq. The former block association president says Johnson’s parents, who live in El Paso, Texas, join noon prayers every day hoping for her safe return. 					                       Charles RogersGene Madeam stands outside his East 58 Street home with photo of niece Shoshana Johnson, a prisoner of war in Iraq. The former block association president says Johnson’s parents, who live in El Paso, Texas, join noon prayers every day hoping for her safe return. Charles Rogers

By Charles Rogers

Gene Madeam of East 58 Street is a military man. He’s a retired soldier from the U.S. Army; a master-sergeant who served his country for 26 years.

He knows to a degree, therefore, what his niece, Army Specialist Shoshana Johnson of El Paso, Texas encountered in her stint in the service. What he doesn’t know, however, is how she is coping now that she has become one of the first prisoners in the war against Iraq.

"We don’t really know anything about her condition," he said in an interview this week. "Have the proper medical authorities seen her? Are they tending to her leg wounds (those seen when she and three other P.O.W.s were seen on Iraqui television shortly after their capture)? How is she doing from an emotional standpoint?"


Madeam said he gets his latest reports about Shoshana — his wife Sheila’s sister’s daughter — mostly from the New York media,. Not government sources.

"The immediate family in El Paso has pretty constant contact with military people there," he says. Shoshana’s father is also a retired military man, her sister is an Army captain and her aunt is a retired Air Force major.

"As for me and my wife, we want to keep contact with the local press because we feel we are keeping her name alive until she returns — and we know she’ll be coming back."

Madeam says that, ever since his daughter was taken captive, his phone has been extremely busy, for the most part.

"I don’t mind, though," he says, "and when the conversation drifts off to other things, I always bring it back to the topic of Shoshana on purpose."

One way the family copes, says Madeam, who was president of the East 58 Street Block Association from 1985 to 1989, is by prayer.

"At noon Eastern time every day, we pause and say a prayer for the safe return of Shoshana and all the service people," he says. "It works out that the family members in Central time, Mountain time and on the West Coast pray at 11 a.m, 10 a.m. and 9 a.m., respectively, so we’re all praying at the same time."

Gene Madeam said he was not too hot on starting the war, at first, noting that it is "getting more complicated" as time goes on due to the slow "system" and bureaucracy involved.

"It would have been nicer if we didn’t go to war at all," he said, "but we’re there now and we must support all of the troops over there."

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