WASHINGTON – A U.S Africa Command investigation team that returned to the site of the Oct. 4 ambush in western Niger found “additional remains” of Sgt. La David Johnson on Nov. 12, the Defense Department said Tuesday.
Department spokeswoman Dana White said the remains were found at the same location where Johnson’s body was initially discovered 48 hours after the attack, a location reportedly a mile away from the ambush site.
CNN, which first reported the news, cited an unidentified U.S. official as saying that the remains found were bone fragments.
White said a military medical examiner confirmed the remains belonged to Johnson.
His widow, Myeshia Johnson, told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” on Oct. 23, two days after Sgt. Johnson’s funeral and burial in his home state of Florida, that she was not allowed to view her husband’s remains.
“Why couldn’t I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband, they wouldn’t let me,” she 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.”
Three other U.S. service members were killed during the incident, the details of which remain hazy.
Twelve U.S. troops had been on a two-day joint operation with 30 Nigerien forces when they were ambushed the morning of the second day while leaving the village of Tongo Tongo by what the U.S. has identified as ISIS-affiliated militants.
“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,” White said in the statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to all of the families of the fallen.”
The military has said it expects the investigation to be completed by January.