Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Heroes Amongst Us: "Johnny"

Because we never leave a man behind:

By JOE RUFF, Associated Press Writer

BOYS TOWN, Neb. - An Iraqi orphan credited with helping American troops capture insurgents in Baghdad started a new life Tuesday at Girls and Boys Town, the storied home for troubled youngsters.

Wearing a Boys Town windbreaker and holding a plastic American flag on a stick, 16-year-old "Johnny" — the nickname U.S. soldiers gave him — said he was happy to be in the United States.

"Everything's OK," he said. "Real cool."

Soldiers in Baghdad encountered the boy living on the streets and discovered that he knew a lot about the people behind insurgent attacks in the city, said Lt. Col. Brian McKiernan, commander of the 1st Armored Division's 4-27 Field Artillery Unit.

McKiernan said Tuesday he took Johnny into the unit as a janitor in September 2003 and the boy learned some English. The boy eventually helped U.S. troops apprehend more than 40 insurgents and seize several weapons caches, McKiernan said.

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