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Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, the soldier and father who was killed in Niger, returned home Tuesday afternoon.
The fallen American soldier who wore the name of his wife and mother of his two children, Myeshia Johnson, tattooed across his chest under his U.S. Army uniform, was saluted with a ceremonial homecoming at Miami International Airport.
His family, including his widow, along with dignitaries and law enforcement officers, saluted Johnson as his casket, draped in the American flag, wheeled out of a Delta Airlines plane en route to Fred Hunter’s Funeral Home in Hollywood.
President Donald Trump, who unleashed controversy this week when he said that his predecessors, including President Obama, did not personally call families of fallen soldiers, a statement refuted by Obama officials, called Johnson’s pregnant widow Tuesday afternoon. His call, at 4:45 p.m., came just before Johnson’s body arrived at MIA.
Trump told his widow, who was in a car heading to the airport with her family and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, that “he knew what he signed up for … but when it happens it hurts anyway,” according to Wilson, who heard the call on speakerphone in the car.
“I think it’s so insensitive. It’s crazy. Why do you need to say that?’’ Wilson asked. “You don’t say that to someone who lost family, the father, the breadwinner. You can say, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss. He’s a hero.’
“I’m livid. He can’t even have an open-coffin funeral because his body is so messed up,’’ Wilson told the Miami Herald.
Myeshia Johnson is expecting the couple’s third child in January. The couple have a 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. The Miami Gardens soldier, a Carol City High grad, was part of a joint mission with the Niger military in west Africa when he and three other men were killed in an ambush on Oct. 4.
Johnson, a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was 25. The U.S. forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Niger Armed Forces in their fight against violent extremists.
A viewing will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, and a funeral service from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday. Both will be at Christ The Rock Church, 11000 Stirling Rd., Cooper City. Johnson will be buried at Hollywood Memorial Gardens.