More remains of U.S. soldier found in Niger after widow questioned whether coffin was empty

More remains of U.S. soldier found in Niger after widow questioned whether coffin was empty

Additional remains of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four U.S. soldiers killed in a firefight with Islamic State-linked militants last month, have been found in Niger, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

A joint U.S.-Africa Command military investigation team discovered the remains Nov. 12 at the site where Johnson’s body was recovered following the Oct. 4 attack in the West African nation, the Pentagon said in a statement. The remains were later confirmed as those of Johnson, 25, a married father of two children.

Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, told ABC shortly after the incident, that officials prevented her from seeing her husband’s body.

“I need to see him, so I will know that is my husband,” she said during the October interview. “They won’t show me a finger, a hand. I know my husband’s body from head to toe and they won’t let me see anything. I don’t know what’s in that box, it could be empty for all I know.” 

Johnson, like many others, has questions about actually happened in Niger. She said she’s suspicious that it took the military 48 hours to find her husband, and doesn’t understand why she was prevented from seeing his body. 

No other details on the discovery of additional remans were released.

President Trump was criticized for his delayed public response to the deaths and for claims that other presidents declined to call families of soldiers killed in action.

Then came a controversy over his call to Johnson’s widow. Trump denied telling Johnson’s widow that her husband knew “what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts.” Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., said she overheard the comment during a conversation over speakerphone Trump had with Myeshia Johnson, who later confirmed the claim.

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The Washington Post reports villagers said U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s body was found with his wrists bound and a wound at the back of his head. Video provided by Newsy Newslook

The Pentagon statement said the investigation continues into the deaths of the four soldiers — Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright. Officials said the group was attacked by dozens of extremists armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Johnson was initially declared missing when French helicopters evacuated the bodies of the other soldiers. Nigerian military personnel recovered his body two days later. The soldiers were part of an operation to train local forces to combat the Boko Haram terror group, which has ties to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. 

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the troops had not expected to encounter enemy forces. The investigation will try to resolve questions, including whether the troops had adequate weapons and training, he said.

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