Weeks after her husband was killed in action in Niger, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson said she is still seeking answers to two questions that haunt her: Why couldnât President TrumpÂ remember her husbandâs name during a condolence call, and why has her family not been provided with the details surrounding her husbandâs death?
Making her first public comments since speaking with Trump last week, Myeshia Johnson told âGood Morning Americaâ on Monday that Trump stumbled recallingÂ her husbandâs name and told her that her husband âknew what he signed up for.â
âIf my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why canât you remember his name?â she said.
Trump on Monday disputed Johnsonâs account,Â characterizing his conversation with herÂ asÂ âvery respectful.â
I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!
â Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2017
On the program, Johnson said she has ânothing to sayâ to President Trump, whose condolence call pulled the grieving widow into the center of a national controversy.
âVery upset and hurt; it made me cry even worse,â Myeshia Johnson saidÂ about her conversation with the president.Â She added that she was angry with Trumpâs tone and that she âdidnât say anything. I just listened.â
She alsoÂ had questions aboutÂ how her husbandâs body went missing for 48 hours.
âHe went from missing to killed in action,â Johnson said. âI donât know how he got killed, where he got killed or anything.â
â Good Morning America (@GMA) October 23, 2017
On Monday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of StaffÂ provided more details about the deadly operation in Niger.
At the Pentagon briefing, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford outlined a timeline from Oct. 3 to Oct. 6 during which time American and Nigerien forcesÂ were caught in a surprise attack by Islamic State militants, three U.S. soldiers were killed in action, and one remained missing for two days.
âWe owe the families as much information as we can find out about what happened, and we owe the American people an explanation of what their men and women were doing at this particular time,â Dunford said.
On Oct. 3, 12 members of the U.S. Special Operations Taskforce accompanied 30 Nigerien forces on a civil military reconnaissance mission from Niamey â Nigerâs capital â to an area roughly 85 kilometers to the north, Dunford said. At that time, âcontact with the enemy was unlikely,â Dunford said.
On the morningÂ Oct. 4, both groups began moving back toward an operating base to the south when they came under attack by forces using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.
After one hour of heavy fire, Dunford said the team requested support, with initial backup arriving within minutes and French jets arriving within the hour. During the firefight, three U.S. soldiers â Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W.Â Johnson, 39; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29Â â were killed in action and evacuated the night of Oct. 4. La David JohnsonÂ remained missingÂ until the evening of Oct. 6, when his body was found and evacuated.
âFrom the time the firefight was initiated, until Sergeant Johnsonâs body was recovered, French, Nigerien or U.S. forces remained in that area,â Dunford said.
His body was returned to the United States on Oct. 7. It was sent home to Florida last week. Soon after, his name became entangled in a controversy after Trump was accused of making insensitive remarks to the 25-year-old soldierâs widow.
Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) said Trump told Myeshia Johnson on the phone that her husband âmust have known what he signed up for,â an account later corroborated by Johnsonâs aunt and custodial mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson.
Trump vehemently denied Wilsonâs account, stating without evidence that he had proof it was âtotally fabricated.â But White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly laterÂ appeared to confirmÂ Wilsonâs account. Myeshia Johnson said Monday that Wilsonâs version of events wasÂ â100 percent correct.â
Johnson said several people â including her aunt and uncle, an Army official, and Wilson â heard the conversation because Trump was placed on speakerphone.
âWhy would we fabricate something like that?â she said.
Just before her husband was buried, Myeshia Johnson kissed his casket.
But in her interview Monday with ABCâsÂ George Stephanopoulos, she said sheâs not fully convinced her husbandâs remains are inside.
âWhy couldnât I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband, they wouldnât let me,â she said.Â âThey wonât show me a finger, a hand. I know my husbandâs body from head to toe. They wonât show me anything.
âI donât know whatâs in that box. It could be empty for all I know.â
Wilson shared the âGood Morning Americaâ interview on Monday, noting: âMyeshia Johnson Speaks From Her Heart.â
Johnson was a mechanic attached to a 3rd Special Forces Group team that was partnered with Nigerien forces. They unexpectedly came under attack during a morning operation that also killed three others.
The deadly operation is now under U.S. military investigation.
To those who knew him, Johnson was a loving husband who had his wifeâs name tattooed across his chest; a soldier who pushed to improve himself; a son who enjoyed talking about his family.
He was also a father who was looking forward to meeting his baby girl: Myeshia is six months pregnant. The couple also have a 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.
âHe was very excited. He said, âSergeant B, Iâm having a girl!â â Staff Sgt. Dennis Bohler, Johnsonâs close friend, told The Washington Post last week.
The slain soldierâs youngest daughter is expected to be born in January.
âI want to tell her how awesome her dad was and how a great father he was and how he died as a hero,â Myeshia Johnson said when asked what sheâll tell her youngest daughter.
The presidentâs tweet did not go over well with Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Veteransâ Affairs.
Myeshia Johnson buried her husband this weekend. The president called her a liar this morning. THIS NEEDS TO END NOW.
â Rep. Tim Walz (@RepTimWalz) October 23, 2017
If you find yourself defending President Trump after he is attacking the widow of a fallen warrior, you might rethink that.
â Rep. Tim Walz (@RepTimWalz) October 23, 2017
Amy B Wang and Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.