WASHINGTON — The military has recovered additional remains of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an ambush in Niger Oct. 4.
Johnson, 25, was one of four soldiers killed when their 12-person special operations task force was ambushed by what the Pentagon has said were Islamic State-affiliated militants. Shortly after his burial, his widow, Myeshia Johnson, said she had requested, but had not been allowed, to view his remains, which would be counter to Defense Department policy.
A U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the remains were found Nov. 12 in the same location where Johnson was originally found. The remains were sent to Dover Air Force Base and verified by a military medical examiner, a second defense official said.
Myeshia Johnson was notified, both officials said. It will now be up to the family to determine whether they wish to receive the additional remains, CNN reported Tuesday the additional remains were described as bone fragments.
Neither official would say what additional remains were found.
Dana White, chief Pentagon spokeswoman, confirmed that the remains were found Nov. 12 by a joint U.S. Africa Command military investigation team.
“Today, we can confirm that the Armed Forces Medical Examiner has positively identified these remains as those of Sgt. Johnson,” White said in a statement. “The department continues to conduct a detailed and thorough investigation into the [soldiers’] deaths.”
Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson also died in the attack.
Questions remain about the circumstances of Sgt. La David Johnson’s death, as well as whether an intelligence failure on the part of the U.S. left the troops vulnerable.
U.S. Africa Command chief of staff Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier Jr. is leading the investigation to answer how the 12-person U.S. team and 30 Nigerien partnered forces came to be ambushed.
Johnson was not initially recovered when French helicopter gunships, medevac and a contracted aircraft responded to the firefight to assist the troops on the ground and retrieve the dead and wounded. Johnson remained missing for about two days.
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."