Honoring Congressman Sam Johnson on 40Th Anniversary of Release from Prisoner of War Campby Representative Louie Gohmert
Posted on 2013-02-25
GOHMERT. I thank my friend, a former judge as well.
It is an honor to be here and to be part of this Special Order to honor our friend Sam Johnson.
Sam and Shirley are public servants in every sense of the word. There were the 29 years in the Air Force. The United States service was what he was. It's what he did. There were the 7 years in Hanoi Hilton--one of the worst prisons ever concocted in the imagination of sick minds-- and he spent 42 months of that in solitary confinement. There are people running around the world saying that you can't put people in solitary confinement, but they were not around to help Sam Johnson during that horrible time in Hanoi. This is the 40th anniversary of his release, and America has been better for Sam Johnson's living and serving and for Shirley's being his partner even though, for 7 years, they were apart.
I know, on the first day I was sworn in, I was sitting right over here on the aisle, talking to another Republican, and Sam came down the aisle. His body still shows the torture and the broken bones that never healed properly and the bones that grew around nerves that they were never able to fix.
When he got even with me, I stood up and shook his hand and said, Sam, it is such an honor to serve with you in this body. Sam has always been a man of honesty and integrity, a man whose judgment I could trust.
He said, Well, it's an honor serving with you--which was a stretch-- but then he said, But don't trust that fella next to you. I found out after that that Sam Johnson's advice was always good and always advice that could be well taken.
After some of the revelations in the Middle East of a U.S. prison camp, I said, Sam, did you hear about the torture of making people strip down and put panties on their heads? And he said, Yeah.
I said, Was that ever a choice that you were given? He said, If it had been, I'd be naked, wearing panties still today.
That was nothing compared to the hell that that man was put through in Hanoi.
Then I found out that in our U.S. prisons--it's open information-- that we provide not only a Koran, which has never been touched by American hands, but also an arrow on the floor that points in the direction that the Islamic prisoner would want to pray, and we give him a prayer rug.
I asked Sam, When you were in Hanoi, did you have a prayer rug and a Bible, as that was part of your faith? And he said, No. Actually, what we had was a tiny, little rod that was placed on the floor--our feet in shackles. We would be beaten on the back until we dropped, and my knees would hit that tiny rod.
It doesn't sound like much, but when you spend hours or days with your knees and all your weight on a tiny, little rod on the floor, it gets pretty unbearable. And that was some of the less torturous stuff this man went through on our behalf.
Part of his service to this country are his children and his grandchildren, and it is with great sadness that I know Sam and Shirley and this country lost Bob Johnson--Plano High School to Texas A&M. His children and grandchildren.
Sam, our hearts are with you. You have sacrificed more than anybody I know on behalf of this country, and it is an honor to serve with you.