Watch CBS News

Funeral held for Sgt. La David Johnson, soldier killed in Niger ambush

Soldier laid to rest
Funeral held for Sgt. La David Johnson, soldier killed in Niger ambush 02:32

COOPER CITY, Fla. -- Sgt. La David Johnson will be laid to rest on Saturday as loved ones gathered for the fallen soldier's funeral in Cooper City, Florida.

Family members and friends of Johnson, who was 25, gathered at Christ The Rock Church on Saturday morning. A viewing was held on Friday at the church, CBS Miami reports.

Johnson died on Oct. 4 when his patrol was ambushed by about 50 extremists along the Nigerien border with Mali. Lawmakers have since demanded more information on the attack and some members of Congress have called for their own investigation.

Funeral Held For Army Sergeant La David Johnson Killed In Ambush In Niger
Myeshia Johnson is presented with a folded American flag by a military honor guard member during the burial service for her husband U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida.  Joe Raedle / Getty

Johnson's sister, Angela Ghent, said that the death of her brother still didn't "feel real."

"It hasn't hit me yet, I haven't had time to grieve," Ghent told The AP. She said she was glad people who attended the service heard stories of her brother's love for bikes and cars.

Johnson's death sparked a controversy over President Trump's phone call offering condolences to his widow, Myeshia Johnson. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., heard the call on speakerphone and said Mr. Trump told Johnson that her husband "knew what he was signing up for." Johnson then burst into tears.

Questions on soldier's last moments remain unclear 02:19

Mr. Trump has since tweeted a string of insults at Wilson. White House chief of staff John Kelly, who also heard the call, sharply criticized Wilson from the White House podium on Thursday.

Johnson is survived by his wife, who is six months pregnant, and two children.

"We have to remember that one thing -- that it wasn't just one soldier who lost his life," Berchel Davis, a retired police officer with six children in the military, told The AP. He said the preacher and Wilson both made that a part of their talks. "That was a good gesture on everyone's part."

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz, who serves as chairman of the Miami-Dade Military Affairs Board, told CBS Miami that Johnson "made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. He is a hero and he will never be forgotten."

The 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project established a scholarship fund to benefit Johnson's children by providing money toward their college education. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.