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As Frederica Wilson soldier flap escalates, Fla. governor orders flags at half staff

By MADELEINE MARR | The Miami Herald (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 21, 2017

While controversy rages about President Donald Trump's phone call to a slain soldier's widow, one politician is stepping up to honor the Miami Gardens serviceman killed in the line of duty: Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

U.S. Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson lost his life on Oct. 4, along with three other American soldiers, when they were attacked in an ambush in Niger in West Africa.

Scott announced Friday that flags would be lowered to half staff on Saturday to honor Johnson, the 25-year-old father of two. The flags will be flown from sunrise to sunset at three locations: Miami Gardens City Hall, Miami-Dade County Courthouse and the State Capitol in Tallahassee.

Johnson's funeral, complete with military honors, will start at 11 a.m. Saturday at Christ the Rock Church, 11000 Stirling Road, Cooper City. Johnson will be buried at Hollywood Memorial Gardens.

"[First lady] Ann and I join Floridians across the state in honoring the lives of U.S. Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson and the other three U.S. soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country and our freedom," said Scott in a statement. "We will never forget their heroic actions and our hearts break for their families and loved ones."

The Carol City Senior High graduate came to national attention this week when U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, who represents Miami Gardens and is a longtime friend of the family, accused President Donald Trump of disrespecting Johnson's pregnant widow, Myeshia, in a condolence call he made to her Tuesday afternoon. According to Wilson, who was riding in the limo with the family when Trump called and was put on speakerphone, Trump told Johnson's widow that "he knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens it hurts anyway." She also said Trump didn't refer to Johnson by name, instead calling him, "Your guy. Your guy.''

Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that Wilson "totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action. Sad!"

The controversy escalated Thursday when White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly defended the president's call, describing the pain that he experienced after his own son died in Afghanistan. Kelly also accused Wilson of taking credit for securing tax dollars for an FBI office dedicated to two slain FBI agents in Miramar two years ago.

Wilson said Kelly got the story wrong, saying Washington approved the money before she was even in Congress. A video released Friday by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel from that ceremony shows Kelly was incorrect.

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(c)2017 Miami Herald
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Sgt. La David Johnson
U.S. ARMY

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