Additional details about the ambush that claimed the lives of four soldiers are providing a clearer picture of what transpired on that fateful day. Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, a soldier assigned to support the 3rd Special Forces Group, was killed during the unplanned mission on October 3 when they were directed to kill or capture a high-value ISIS target.
As reported by The Daily Mail, Johnson and others, who were in an armed pick-up truck at the start of the ambush in Niger, initially left the vehicle to return fire but returned to the vehicle when it became clear they were dangerously outnumbered. The group sped about 200 yards ahead before realizing that other soldiers in an unarmed Land Cruiser were stuck in the kill zone.
Johnson worked to save lives by covering other soldiers on foot, using the mounted machine gun on the pick-up truck, as the group attempted to rescue his comrades stranded in the Land Cruiser.
The Land Cruiser was struck by a mortar, killing all three men inside. Then, Johnson’s pick-up truck was also hit, likely throwing his body from the vehicle.
During the evacuation, Johnson’s body was left behind. It wasn’t recovered until about 48 hours after the attack, when an elder at the Nigerien village of Tongo Tongo, who is believed to have stalled the troops prior to the ambush, informed Nigerien soldiers about the location of Johnson’s body.
There have been a lot of questions regarding when transpired during the ambush as well as the events leading up to the soldiers being told to proceed with the mission even after another unit that was supposed to accompany them was unable to go forward.
An unnamed official speaking about the incident stated that the men’s “light convoy” was likely surveilled by the militants a minimum of a day prior to the attack.
The unit that was sent to kill or capture the high-value ISIS target only consisted of six to eight vehicles and just 42 troops, a combination of US soldiers and Nigerien forces.
The official asserted that, if the men had not been told to proceed with the mission change, they would be alive today.
“They should have been up and back in a day,” said the official. “They were hit because they were up there so f***ing long on a mission that morphed. They were spotted, surveilled and ultimately hit.”