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Posted: October 21, 2017

Funeral held for soldier at center of Trump rift

VIDEO: Sgt. La David Johnson Laid to Rest

By Jared Leone, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

COOPER CITY, Fla. —

Before Sgt. La David Johnson joined the Army, he was known as “Wheelie King.”

He would remove the front tire from his bicycle and ride to Walmart where he worked in the produce department.

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“Once you feel that you are comfortable, you could just ride all day,” he said in a 2013 interview featuring his wheelie skills.

Johnson, 25, joined the Army in 2014, becoming a member of the Special Forces and was awarded leadership, achievement and marksmanship accommodations, according to his obituary.

Johnson and three other soldiers, as well as five Nigerian soldiers, died Oct. 4 in Niger when they were attacked by militants tied to the Islamic State. His death became the center of a dispute between President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.

About 1,200 mourners gathered Saturday at Christ the Rock Church to remember Johnson before he was laid to rest. Johnson’s family asked reporters to stay outside during the service.

Portraits of his three comrades killed in action -- 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 -- joined his on the stage as the pastor, family and Wilson spoke.

Johnson's pregnant widow, Myeshia, held the arm of an Army officer as she led the couple’s children Ah'Leeysa, 6, La David Jr., 2.

La David and Myeshia were high school sweethearts. She is due to have a daughter, La’Shee, in January. An online fundraiser has raised more than $600,000 to pay for the children's education.

Johnson's sister, Angela Ghent, said his loss doesn’t feel real.

"It hasn't hit me yet,” Ghent said. “I haven't had time to grieve.”

Mourners said the fight between Trump and Wilson was never mentioned during the service.

The war of words between the president and Wilson began Tuesday when she said Trump told Johnson’s widow in a phone call that her husband "knew what he signed up for" and didn't appear to know his name, a version later backed up by Johnson's aunt.

The dispute has continued through the weekend with Trump tweeting: "I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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