“Fallen” Soldiers: Unsolved Death Cases of Black Women in the Military

by Eco.Soul.Intellectual

As I was looking up black women in the military who have fallen I began to notice a trend. Not every woman has “fallen” in the sense of valor as may we may associate with soldiers. In the two dozen that I have discovered, a disproportionate amount have died in non-combat circumstances.

This got my conspiracy nose to twitching. “Is this another case of those who serve and protect, but are not being protected?” I asked. And yep, my gut was right in some instances.

The military sounds good and may look good in the commercials, but it is a very hard profession and one that trains ordinary folk into killers. And many times, the soldiers kill their own. And in many instances, the women who are in the military are the first target before any enemy.

As one who studies gender, I remember a professor giving out an article regarding the high percentage of rapes against female soldiers. And the culture of violence that permits and silences rapes and other acts of violence.

Then I ran across this news clip of one solder who died in a non-combat case. Her name is LaVena Johnson. She was only 19-years-old at the time. Her parents declare that her death was a murder, and not a suicide as the military documents point out.

Then I found another video of Seaman Genesia Gresham who was shot in her bunk along with her roomate. The shooter is still an active Seaman.

Then I read a clip of a Cherie L. Morton whose body was found in her off-base house in 2008. Her death is still under investigation. That means she was murdered.

Goddamn America, even when we are fighting for you, we get violated.

I wanted to highlight the black women who have fallen because these are human beings with lives other than a death certificate and a body bag. And my initial conjecture is that some of their deaths were hidden.

One day the truth will set their souls free. Check out this list after these videos.

The Unsolved Case of LaVena Johnson 

The Unresolved Case of Genesia Gresham

Petty Officer 1st Class Cherie L. Morton
Hometown:Bakersfield, California, U.S.
Age:40 years old
Died:April 20, 2008 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit:Navy, Naval Security Force, Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
Incident: The cause of death is under investigation.

Pvt. Janelle F. King 
Hometown: Merced, California, U.S.
Age:23 years old
Died:August 14, 2008 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Incident: Died in Baghdad of injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident.

Spec. Lakeshia M. Bailey
Hometown:Columbus, Georgia, U.S.
Age:23 years old
Died:March 8, 2010 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit:Army, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.
Incident: Died north of Al Kut, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over.

Spec. Christine M. Ndururi
Hometown:Dracut, Massachusetts, U.S.
Age:21 years old
Died:November 6, 2007 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit:Army, 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Tex.
Incident: Died of a non-combat related illness in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Staff Sgt. Lillian Clamens
Hometown:Lawton, Oklahoma, U.S.
Age:35 years old
Died:October 10, 2007 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit:Army, 1st Postal Platoon, 834th Adjutant General Company, Miami, Fla.
Incident: Killed by insurgents who attacked her unit with rockets in Baghdad.

Staff Sgt. Carletta S. Davis
Hometown:Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.
Age:34 years old
Died:November 5, 2007 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit:Army, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.
Incident: Killed when a makeshift bomb detonated near her Humvee during combat operations in Tal Al-Dahab.

Pfc. Lavena L. Johnson
Hometown:Florissant, Missouri, U.S.
Age:19 years old
Died:July 19, 2005 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Related Links:

Sgt. Pamela G. Osbourne
Hometown:Hollywood, Florida, U.S.
Age:38 years old
Died:October 11, 2004 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit:Army, Artillery Division, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Tex.
Incident: Killed when two rockets struck their camp in Baghdad.

Pfc. Leslie D. Jackson
Hometown:Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Age:18 years old
Died:May 20, 2004 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit:Army, Company A, 115th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, Ft. Hood, Tex.
Incident: Killed when her military vehicle hit a makeshift bomb in Baghdad.
Related Links:
Legacy.com Tribute

Spec. Tyanna S. Avery-Felder
Hometown:Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
Age:22 years old
Died:April 7, 2004 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit:Army, 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.
Incident: Died from injuries sustained on April 4 in Mosul when her convoy vehicle was hit with a makeshift bomb.

Staff Sgt. Alicia A. Birchett
Hometown:Mashpee, Massachusetts, U.S.
Age:29 years old
Died:August 9, 2007 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit:Army, 887th Engineer Company, 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.
Incident: Died Aug. 9 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered from a non-combat related accident Aug. 8 in Baghdad.

Sgt. Keicia M. Hines
Hometown:Citrus Heights, California, U.S.
Age:27 years old
Died:January 14, 2004 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit:Army, 108th Military Police Company, 16th Military Police Brigade, 18th Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Incident: Killed when she was struck by a vehicle on an airfield in Mosul.
Related Links:

Army Spc. Keisha Morgan

Washington, DC  died in Baghdad of a non-combat incident. She was assigned to the  Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, TX as a  signal support systems specialist and this was her second tour in Iraq. This  incident is under investigation. Keisha graduated from Wilson High School before  joining the Army in September 2007. It is reported that she had a seizure, was  responsive but died later. She is survived by her mother Diana Morgan and  others. She was buried in Arlington on Monday 3 March. Keisha had reenlisted  the week before she died, was in top physical condition and engaged to be  married. 

In this Songs from a Wooden Tongue blog, it reports that the army still doesn’t know how Morgan died:
Yet again, the Army is sweeping the mysterious death of a female soldier  under the rug.  Keisha’s mother, Diana, (who is a friend of mine) has  been told that the Army “doesn’t know” how Keisha died.  Keisha’s best  friend, Ruby, found her on the floor of their Baghdad barracks, having a  seizure, but responsive.  She died, according to WTOP news, “a short  time later.”

Information for list was retrieved from the Eaces of the Fallen by Washington Post and the National Association of Black Military Women.