WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – For the first time, we are seeing images of two of the four U.S. soldiers killed by Islamic militants in the African nation of Niger last October.
Newly- released video from National Geographic’s “Chain of Command” shows Sergeant La David Johnson and Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright with their unit, which also lost two other soldiers in the battle.
In one of the videos, Wright demonstrates how his team detonates weapons.
“Anybody can shoot a gun,” Wright says. “Demo is something else. It’s a lot more fun.”
The footage also shows Johnson doing backflips, singing and joking with the Nigerian partners his team was training.
Johnson’s full time job was as a mechanic, but he did double duty as a barber.
Just three weeks later, on October 4th, Johnson, Wright and two other soldiers were ambushed and killed by Islamic extremists.
Johnson’s body was not recovered for two days, which speaks volumes to retired Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, the former commander of special operations in Africa.
“There was most likely an element of surprise, that the patrol was overwhelmed very quickly,” Bolduc said.
Special Forces were in Niger to train the local forces, who according to their commander were chasing roaming bands of terrorists.
“We don’t see them in large group. They just like scattered in villages,” said Col. Major Moussa Salaou Barmou.
Nigeriens and their American advisors headed out on what was supposed to be a simple reconnaissance patrol.
But half way through the patrol the Special Forces were given another mission — check out a camp site where a wanted terrorist had been spotted a few days earlier.
“Going after and checking out an area that a high value target has just been in would be a, you know, high-risk mission,” Bolduc said.
At a memorial service, one of their commanders said that as the team was running out of ammunition and about to be overrun, they radioed in a distress call not used since the Vietnam war – broken arrow.