Additional remains of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed when Islamic militants ambushed a military convoy in Niger, were recovered weeks after he was laid to rest, the Pentagon said Monday.
A joint U.S Africa Command military investigation team discovered the additional remains on Nov. 12 at the site where his body was initially recovered, Department of Defense Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement Tuesday. Johnson, who became the unwitting subject of a political spat between President Trump and a Florida congresswoman, and three other U.S. soldiers were killed Oct. 4 when about 50 Islamic extremists attacked a group of American and Nigerian troops.
“We can confirm that the Armed Forces Medical Examiner has positively identified these remains as those of Sgt. Johnson,” White said. “The department continues to conduct a detailed and thorough investigation into the deaths of Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, and Sgt. La David T. Johnson. We extend our deepest condolences to all of the families of the fallen.”
Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Oct. 23, two days after her husband was laid to rest in Florida, officials prevented her from viewing Johnson's body despite her repeated demands.
"Why couldn't I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband, they wouldn't let me," Johnson said. “They told me that he’s in a severe wrap — like I won’t be able to see him. I need to see him so I will know that that is my husband.”
She added: "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, but I need to see my husband. I haven't seen him since he came home."
The 12-member team was reportedly in unarmored trucks when the ambush by the Islamic State in the Sahel -- what officials believe was a relatively new offshoot of ISIS -- occurred on a return route from the capital city of Niamey. About 10 Nigerian troops were also killed. It’s unclear whether the soldiers' commando unit was carrying out its assigned mission at the time.
Johnson’s body was discovered two days after the attack, separated from the three other bodies. It’s still unclear why he was left at a different location. The Pentagon said earlier this month it informed the soldiers’ family members that the investigation into their deaths would not be complete until at least January.
Johnson’s death also fueled a political fight between Trump and Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson, who accused the president of telling Myeshia Johnson her husband “knew what he signed up for” and alleged Trump didn’t appear to know Johnson's name during a phone call. The story was later backed up by Johnson’s aunt.
Trump hit back at Wilson and tweeted she “fabricated” his statement. He later called the congresswoman “wacky” and accused her of “SECRETELY” listening to the phone call. Chief of staff John Kelly also defended Trump and said he was “stunned” and “brokenhearted” that the event turned into a public and political spectacle.
Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.