Oct 7, 2017, 3:05 PM ET

4th US soldier killed in Niger ambush identified

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The Pentagon has identified the fourth U.S. soldier killed in the West African nation of Niger earlier this week in an ambush believed to have been carried out by an Islamic extremist group.

Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, from Miami Gardens, Florida, was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Johnson had been initially listed as missing following Wednesday's ambush that took place in a remote area along Niger's border with Mali.

He was one of about a dozen U.S. Army soldiers conducting a joint patrol with about 40 soldiers from Niger when they came under attack by about 50 enemy fighters.

In addition to the three other U.S. soldiers killed along with Johnson, a soldier from Niger also died from the attack. Two other American soldiers were wounded in the ambush and were as of Friday receiving medical treatment at a U.S. Army hospital in Germany.

Johnson's remains were recovered on Friday by soldiers from Niger near the site of the ambush after an intense search for the missing soldier by forces from the U.S., Niger and France.

Prior to the discovery of Johnson's remains, U.S. Africa Command spokesman Col. Mark Cheadle said "more than a hundred" U.S. military personnel, including special operations forces, had been sent to Niger to assist with a possible rescue operation in the event the missing soldier was being held captive.

Cheadle said the U.S. "had an idea" of which Islamic extremist group may have been responsible for the attack.

"We are resolved and stalwart in our efforts to go after those who attacked," the spokesman said.

Various extremist groups operate along the Niger-Mali border area, including Ansar Dine, an al Qaeda-affiliated extremist group, and ISIS-West Africa.

Johnson enlisted in the Army in January 2014 as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic and was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, a Green Beret unit.

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.

"The Bush Hog formation [Johnson's battalion] was made better because of Johnson's faithful service and we are focused on caring for the Johnson family during this difficult period," said Lt. Col. David Painter, commander of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).

The three other U.S. Army soldiers killed in the attack were identified by the Pentagon on Friday. They all served with Special Operations Forces and were based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Two, including Johnson, were support personnel, and two were Green Berets.

Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29, died from wounds sustained during the ambush that occurred near Niger's border with Mali about 125 miles north of Niamey, Niger's capital.

PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Wa. is pictured in an undated handout image released by the US Army on Oct. 6, 2017.US Army
Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Wa. is pictured in an undated handout image released by the US Army on Oct. 6, 2017.

Staff Sgt. Bryan Black of Puyallup, Washington, who enlisted in the Army in October 2009, was a Green Beret serving as a Special Forces medical sergeant. His awards and decorations includes the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and Marksmanship Qualification Badge - Sharpshooter with Rifle.

PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Ga. is pictured in an undated handout image released by the US Army on Oct. 6, 2017.US Army
Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Ga. is pictured in an undated handout image released by the US Army on Oct. 6, 2017.

Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Lyons, Georgia, enlisted in the Army in July 2012 and was a Green Beret serving as a Special Forces engineer sergeant. His awards and decorations included the Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Special Forces Tab, and Parachutist Badge.

PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio is pictured in an undated handout image released by the US Army on Oct. 6, 2017.US Army
Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio is pictured in an undated handout image released by the US Army on Oct. 6, 2017.

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson of Springboro, Ohio, enlisted in the Army in October 2007 and served as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist attached to the Green Beret unit.

His awards includes the Army Commendation Medal (2nd Award), Army Achievement Medal (5th Award), Army Good Conduct Medal (3rd Award), National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Ribbon, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge, and Marksmanship Qualification Badge - Expert with Pistol and Rifle.

There are about 800 U.S. military personnel in Niger helping that country's counterterrorism efforts against extremist groups. Some of the U.S. forces are part of a drone surveillance mission over Mali that operates out of Niger's capital of Niamey.

Others are involved in a training-and-advising mission with Niger's military to improve its counterterrorism capabilities and the construction of a second drone base in northern Niger.

News - 4th US soldier killed in Niger ambush identified

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  • Lance Morrow

    I'm sorry to say but If this guy was a mile from his comrades, who he should have been fighting wth and protecting, the only logical conclusion is that he was fleeing (AKA running away. That from friends who served in Viet Nam.....No other explanation for him being 1 mile or more away. ISIS most likely chased him down.........and if indeed a fact, the Pentagon will try to hide this fact.....Sorry for his children ....no matter what but it doesn't look very goos.

  • Joey Couldcareless

    The question was asked, " why are there U.S. troops in Niger"? I guess ABC news does not realize that once we enter a country, for any reason, we never leave. Maybe ABC news is unaware that we still have troops in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. We have troops in parts of the former Soviet union. Its just the American public is not supposed to know about that. We don't leave, no matter how much a country wants us out. May God bless the brave men who lost their lives in Niger. And thank you for your service. You service men and women have always been my heroes.

  • Engagebrainbeforefingers

    You're assuming they were "fresh in country".

  • Kingswood1

    Time for his brothers to unleash hell on those Islamist animals.

  • libbilee

    Why are all the free nations doing nothing while good people like these die by the hands of extremist? Why aren't we doing whatever it takes to end the bloodshed by crazy Muslim terrorist? If all of them have not been defeated, then enough has not been done.

  • wescraske

    Condolences to family members of killed troops: the work of your deceased family members was of value; a greatful nation mourns your & our mutual losses.

  • ababg

    Why are us troops in Nigeria? The vietmanization of the us military needs to end. Wars are declared by Congress and we should fight wars to win them . Clear objectives and defined enemys

  • Mr. Logical

    RIP. We don't appreciate quite enough how many people live on danger's edge to keep us safe and free. Thank you to all service men and women who put themselves on that line every day.

  • mikevietvet68/69

    they took me down,its a shame....

  • mikevietvet68/69

    im on hold last two comments,truth is not a virtue at disqus....

  • Edup McD

    My heart breaks for their parents & all those who loved them ...
    My sincerest condolences ...
    Thank you for your service & ultimate sacrifice ... 😢
    Rest in eternal peace ...

  • Risbo Lensky

    That means 5 dead and 3 wounded in the past 6 days

  • Personal

    Horrific. I hope the families can find comfort.

  • katerant

    I demand an investigation. It should last years and require 'President' Trump to give testimony for 11 hours at a stretch.

  • glideair

    There are people in this world who need to get a life. How do so many people cave-in and succumb to idiotic dictators or religious zealots?
    Someone needs to take the helm of this world and be done with any and all who give even the slightest gesture of going against the grain or wishes of peace-loving peoples. There is something inherently wrong with a world society, when a few bad guys wreak havoc on the world for years with basically "impunity".
    One thing is for certain....what you allow will continue.

  • Dog

    I can't wait for the retaliation from the United States. Payback for taking American lives.

  • wjayr2000

    RIP brother in arms.

  • laughing duck

    Anyone wanna guess how many congressional investigations the republicans are gonna launch into the deaths of these four Americans?

  • ruelph

    What the hell is the U.S. doing in Nigers? The U.S. is not the answer to every conflict. My condolences and prayers to their families.

    'Fighting soldiers from the sky
    Fearless men who jump and die
    Men who mean just what they say
    The brave men of the Green Beret'

    Rest in peace Green Berets.

  • Charlotte Chatman

    G*D BLESS these soldiers. Rest in the LORD'S loving arms.

  • FredKapelski

    Why were these guys over there? Is the a threat to the U.S. that was being address? Isn't the muslim problem over there a branch of the same crap the former administration and pentagon supported and trained? Is pretty sick that our government creates the problems that kill our troops then parade the casualties as "heroes." We need to rid ourselves of this psychopaths in high places.

  • Propilotone

    I am not familiar with the MOS backgrounds for service with the green berets, don't get me wrong, I don't think that a medical background or mechanical services or a chemistry/science could or would not be of use, however I think these four need more TO's to solidify their tactical abilities in the field before being sent on a combined patrol against hardened insurgents.

  • Brian Sams

    Its about time Blacks were killed while helping Africa. Whites have no business getting involved.

  • El k-bayote

    R.I.P my brothers!!!....ARMY STRONG!

  • Larry Dickman

    Been doing these types of missions for decades. Back before the instant news, these deaths would be covered up by 'a helicopter crash while doing a surveying mission'.

  • johnsmart

    Unreal how inept the Trump Admin is. This should be investigated by congress. #LockTrumpUp!

  • Propilotone

    This is the norm in a jto, unfortunate for these guys but its a critical role and its voluntary with exra pay to deal with ers

  • Randy Rjjd

    trump's benghazi. lock him up!

  • Northwest conservative

    Anybody else notice that all 3 are white males? Not women or minorities Hollywood and the Left want us to believe are the heros.

  • Shane Valverde

    Someone at the top screwed up...bad. I hope “they’re fired”....

  • RedSoxPatriotsCelticsBruinsFan

    bad bad bad decision to put our troops in hell over there without enough back up. This is senseless death.

  • snake

    It seems insane to have our soldiers on the ground in this place fighting one of the many Islamic terrorist groups operating in Niger & Mali. What US national interest is served and why not drone strikes?

  • Dajibaski

    Why were they there?

  • Mark Rothschild

    EMPIRES................................................are Hard

  • Gilbert Goobies Castro

    what great music to play as we come into the discussion and sorrow of our soldiers, why don't you play some jazz and make it more spiffy

  • disqus_QoLR45HiFB

    How many Nigerian soldiers were killed in the ambush?

  • kritikosman

    It's a consequence of meddlin'.

  • Darrin Gaets

    What exactly were they doing there that they we're killed? sounds fishy...some Ultra rich group probably wanted something there and these guys died for it..same tired story. Over and over.
    Our soldiers being killed so others can profit......these soldiers were nothing but tools to be used and thrown away when they break by these corrupt people.

  • rontron

    ....10 to 12 U.S. soldiers on a joint patrol with Nigerien soldiers.....How did they not know who was on the patrol? How did the enemy know they were coming in order to set up an ambush? Sounds as though another US operation was bungled, plus a spy in the Nigerian Military.

  • Tootee

    Is there any methodology to Trump’s tweeting? He spends days tweeting and commenting about football players kneeling but he says nothing about 4 American service members being killed in Niger. He’s a tool.

  • Prophet With Honor

    Sadly enough this appears to be their first combat experience.

  • RRbane

    Rest in peace & thank you for your service.

  • dancer92136

    RIP, Heroes.

    My thoughts are with your loved ones.

    De Oppresso Liber

  • Alpha_177

    RIP. Now get some payback

  • FasterBadger

    RIP

  • reality25

    These deaths are very unfortunate and reveal the scope of U.S. miltary involvement around the world. Chances are, many Americans are not familiar with 'America's secret wars' due to the limited coverage these special operations receive.

    One article written back in 2014, addressed this when it stated that the country’s most elite forces "were active in more than 150 different countries around the world, conducting missions ranging from kill/capture night raids to training exercises".

    At that time 150 countries? Really? And Trump wants to expand military activities around the planet?

  • Jukka-Emil Vanaja

    Poor lads. Dying in the poorest rear-end of the sahara, fighting both for and against the same people, one of the most impoverished, isolated and vulnerable peoples in existence at that.

  • gypsy

    My condolences to the families of these soldiers.