DOD Identifies 4th Green Beret Killed In Niger Ambush


A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant speaks to a group of Nigerien soldiers during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, last March. (US Army photo/Zayid Ballesteros)

The fourth Green Beret killed in a deadly Oct. 4 attack in West Africa has been identified.

On Saturday, the Department of Defense said Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, died of wounds sustained when enemies attacked his unit while conducting operations in Niger.

Johnson and three other soldiers assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group were killed on Wednesday. A number of Nigerien troops were also killed or injured.

The four deaths make Oct. 4 the deadliest day for deployed Fort Braggsoldiers since July 14, 2010, when seven soldiers were killed in two incidents in Afghanistan.

Johnson, of Miami Gardens, Florida, had been missing for two days before his body was recovered by Nigerien and American soldiers on Friday.

Two U.S. service members were also wounded in the attack. They were evacuated in stable condition to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, officials said.

The Pentagon earlier identified the other three 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers killed in the attack as Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia.

La David Johnson, like Black and Wright, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. Jeremiah Johnson was assigned to the Group Support Battalion.

"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.

Johnson enlisted in the Army as a wheeled vehicle mechanic in January 2014, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Parachutist Badge, Army Air Assault Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge and Marksmanship Qualification Badge -- Sharpshooter with Rifle.

The attack on U.S. and Nigerien forces remains under investigation, officials said. It occurred in southwest Niger, approximately 120 miles north of the capital of Niamey.

According to the U.S. Africa Command based in Germany, the Special Forces soldiers were providing advice and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terrorism operations.

The 3rd Special Forces Group has had an ongoing mission in North and West Africa since 2015, with a battalion constantly forward-deployed to Niger and operations in 11 other African nations in the region.

The Special Forces soldiers are in Africa to bolster the defense capabilities of partner nations, while combating terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

According to reports, Nigerien military leaders said a patrol of defense and security forces and American partners were near the border of Mali when they were ambushed by a group with a dozen vehicles and about 20 motorcycles.

Earlier this week, chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White said this was the first time American forces had been killed and wounded in combat in Niger.

This article is written by Drew Brooks from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCredpublisher network. Please direct all licensing questions