Donald Trump

Additional Remains of South Florida Soldier La David Johnson Found in Niger

Johnson's death became national news after President Donald Trump called his widow to offer his condolences, ending up making her cry

Additional remains have been found of a South Florida soldier whose death last month in Niger sparked criticism of President Donald Trump from a Florida congresswoman and the soldier's widow.

The additional remains of Sgt. La David Johnson were recovered on Nov. 12 by a military investigation team near the site of the Oct. 4 ambush that ended in the deaths of Johnson and three other U.S. soldiers, a Department of Defense spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.

The Armed Forces Medical Examiner positively identified the remains as those of the 25-year-old Johnson, department representative Dana White said in a statement.

The soldiers were ambushed about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Niamey, by what officials believe was a relatively new offshoot of the Islamic State group that calls itself Islamic State in the Sahel.

Johnson was missing for two days before his body was found by Niger troops and turned over to the U.S. Myeshia Johnson, the sergeant's widow, complained bitterly that she had not been able to see her husband's body before his funeral.

"I need to see him so I will know that that is my husband," she said in an interview last month. "I don't know nothing, they won't show me a finger, a hand."

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the military often may make a recommendation on viewing but that soldiers' bodies are prepared and turned over to the family and its funeral director. The final decision on viewing is up to them, said spokeswoman Laura Ochoa.

The Pentagon has said the investigation into the ambush won't be completed until at least January.

Johnson's death became national news after President Trump called his widow to offer his condolences. Rep. Frederica Wilson, who was in the car with Myeshia Johnson on the way to Miami International Airport to meet the body of Johnson's husband when Trump called, said in an interview that Trump had told Johnson's widow that "you know that this could happen when you signed up for it ... but it still hurts." Wilson called the president's remarks "insensitive."

Trump responded on Twitter, calling Wilson "wacky" and accusing her of secretly listening. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called her an "empty barrel" and mischaracterized her comments years earlier at a FBI building dedication.

Myeshia Johnson said Wilson was practically a member of their family and was among a group of people listening to Trump's call on a speaker phone. She also said the congresswoman's recollection of the call was "100 percent correct."

Myeshia Johnson also said Trump couldn't remember the soldier's name during the condolence call and that "made me cry."

On Tuesday, Wilson complained about the piecemeal process of information coming out, calling it "unconscionable."

"This is traumatic because everything is leaking out in the press, so why doesn't the White House just give us a full report?" Wilson told reporters. "It is unconscionable, it is painful to this family. How much can a gold star family take when you say to them 'you cannot have an open casket funeral but we don't know what happened to your husband, we don't know what happened to your son, we don't know what happened to your brother, we don't know what happened to your friend.'"

Johnson, a husband and father of three, attended Miami Carol City Senior High before enlisting in the Army in 2014. He left behind three children.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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