WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) — The Department of Defense says one of the four U.S. soldiers killed in an attack by Islamic extremists in Niger was a South Florida native.
Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger as a result of enemy fire.
U.S. officials said they believe extremists linked to the Islamic State group were responsible for the attack about 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital of the landlocked nation in western Africa.
The U.S. and Niger forces in a joint patrol were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders and were in trucks. They were ambushed by 40-50 militants in vehicles and on motorcycles.
Johnson, a native of Miami Gardens, Florida, enlisted in the Army in January 2014 as a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic (91B). 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 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).
Three of the other U.S. troops killed were also identified Friday: Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29, of Lyons.
U.S. Africa Command said the U.S. forces are in Niger to provide training and security assistance to the Nigerien Armed Forces in their efforts against violent extremists.
Four Nigerien soldiers died in the attack and two other U.S. troops were wounded.
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