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Thursday, 26 October 2017

War of words spreads to soldier's widow, Donald Trump

WASHINGTON: A fallen soldier's angry widow joined the stormy dispute with US President Donald Trump over his response to her husband's death, declaring that his failure to remember the soldier's name in last week's condolence call "made me cry."

He retorted yesterday that the call was "very respectful" and her accusation about her husband's name simply wasn't true.

Though Trump refused to let the new round of complaints go unanswered, he steered clear of the insults he exchanged last week with a congresswoman who had overheard the sympathy call.

The president spoke in public at two events during the day, including his awarding of the military Medal of Honor to a Vietnam-era Army medic, and made no mention of the case of Sgt La David Johnson, one of four soldiers killed October 4 in a firefight with militants tied to the Islamic State group in Niger.
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In addition to criticising Trump, Myeshia Johnson, the sergeant's widow, also complained bitterly that she had not been able to see her husband's body.

"I need to see him so I will know that that is my husband," she said. "I don't know nothing, they won't show me a finger, a hand."

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the military often may make a recommendation on viewing but that soldiers' bodies are prepared and turned over to the family and its funeral director. The final decision on viewing is up to them, said spokeswoman Laura Ochoa.

Myeshia Johnson spoke for the first time in the dispute in an appearance Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America." In the interview, she supported critical statements last week by Rep. Frederica Wilson, who had been in the car with the widow and other relatives when Trump phoned and his call could be heard on a speakerphone.

"Yes, the president said that 'he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway.' And it made me cry 'cause I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said he couldn't remember my husband's name," Johnson said.

The president answered on Twitter soon after the interview aired, saying: "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!"

At the Pentagon, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said an investigation has still to resolve questions about the October 4 firefight.

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