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Body Of US Soldier Killed In Niger Returns Home To South Florida

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A South Florida soldier killed in an ambush in Africa has returned home to be laid to rest.

The Delta flight from Atlanta carrying the body of 25-year-old Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson arrived at Miami International at around 5 p.m.

There was a water cannon salute from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue as the aircraft taxied to the gate.

A short time later, the casket carrying Sgt. Johnson's body emerged from the bottom of the plane draped in an American flag. CBS4's Carey Codd was told that a member of his unit escorted to body to South Florida.

Myeshia Johnson
Myeshia Johnson, widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, cries on her slain husband's casket. (Source: CBS4)

Sgt. Johnson's widow, Myeshia, pregnant with the couple's third child, walked to the casket with her eldest child.

She did what any grieving military spouse would do – she wept over the flag-draped casket of her husband.

Myeshia poured forth a torrent of tears, grieving the loss of the man she considered her soulmate.

Local politicians who attended the ceremony praised Sgt. Johnson as a leader and a man worthy of our admiration. It was evidenced by the police and firefighters who paid their respects as his hearse drove past them.

The hearse arrived with Sgt. Johnson's body at a funeral home in Hollywood late Tuesday.

"This young man needed every honor we could bestow upon him. All of the law enforcement officers along the way saluting him and the young family," said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara. Jordan.

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"A lot of them make it back, but some don't. We're here to recognize a hero who gave his life for his country and his community," added Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz.

SGT Johnson, La David
Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, was one of four U.S. soldiers killed Oct. 4 in an ambush attack in Niger. (Source: U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

Johnson was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was among four U.S. troops killed in an attack in Niger on October 4th.

According to the military, Johnson's Special Forces unit was assisting and advising Nigerians on dealing with terror groups. The U.S. and Niger forces in a joint patrol were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed by 40-50 militants believed to be linked to the Islamic State group.

Four Nigerien soldiers also died in the attack and two other U.S. troops were wounded.

The U.S. has launched an investigation into the deadly ambush and the confusion that followed.

According to CNN, the Defense Department is conducting an initial review of the mission which is aimed at determining precisely what happened, something that is still not clear nearly two weeks after the incident.

U.S. special operations forces have been working with Niger's military in the fight against extremists in the African region.

Johnson enlisted in the Army in January 2014 as a wheeled vehicle mechanic. His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Army Parachutist Badge, the Army Air Assault Badge, the Driver and Mechanic Badge and the Marksmanship Qualification Badge – Sharpshooter with Rifle.

A viewing for the Miami Gardens native will take place on Friday, October 20th at Christ the Rock Church, located at 11000 Stirling Road in Cooper City from 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

On Saturday, October 21st, his funeral service will take place at the same church from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. followed by his burial at Hollywood Memorial Gardens located at 6301 Taft Street, just across the street from Fred Hunters Funeral Home.

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