Military lawyer tackles unanswered questions for widow of fallen soldier

Akilah Davis Image
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Military lawyer talks transparency for families of fallen soldiers
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Military lawyer talks transparency for families of fallen soldiers and some of the challenges faced.

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (WTVD) -- It's been more than two weeks since a group of Special Forces soldiers were ambushed in the west African nation of Niger. It was a deadly mission that left four dead, among them, Sgt. La David Johnson.

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His widow, Myeshia Johnson, is demanding answers.

"Why did it take them 48 hours to find my husband? Why couldn't I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband they wouldn't let me," Myeshia Johnson said.

This image from video released by ABC shows Myeshia Johnson, La David Johnson's widow, during an interview on "Good Morning America," Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, in New York.
ABC News via AP

"With regard to being transparent, I think we do owe the families and the American people transparency in incidents like this and we intend to deliver just that," said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

ABC11 sat down with Gregg Illikainen, an attorney who practices military law. He said the Department of Defense owes it to this widow and the others to be transparent, but more information is needed first.

"The Department of Defense wants to be excruciatingly careful to not put out any misinformation," said Illikainen said. "I can guarantee there is a comprehensive investigation going on."

Myeshia Johnson's widow wanted to view her husband's body once it arrived home, but Illikainen said it's possible the body simply was too jarring to view.

"It might not be in the best of shape," Illikainen said. "The belief of letting the widow see the body might be more traumatic than any benefit could be."

He said typically, families of fallen soldiers are assigned a casualty assistance officer who is an active duty person. Their job is to take care of the family and shepherd them through the grieving process.

It'll be a long road for the families who loved these soldiers.