Who was Sgt. La David Johnson? 7 things to know about the fallen soldier, ‘Wheelie King'

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 6:20 PM

Reports: President Trump to Widow of Fallen Soldier, He Knew "What He Signed Up For"

The mother of fallen U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson said Wednesday that during a call with her son’s widow, President Donald Trump said the soldier “knew what he signed up for.”

>> RELATED: Family says Trump told fallen soldier's widow that husband 'knew what he signed up for'

Trump has since denied he said those words and told members of the Senate Finance Committee, “I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife, who sounded like a wonderful woman. I didn’t say what that congresswoman said. Didn’t say it at all, she knows it.”

>> Read more trending news

The initial account of Trump’s phone conversation with Johnson’s widow was provided Tuesday by U.S. Rep Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, confirmed the congresswoman’s version was accurate.

>> RELATED: Trump: Lawmaker 'fabricated' account of his talk with widow

After she was pressed from reporters, Johnson said, “Yes, he did state that comment,” The New York Times reported.

Here are 7 things to know about Sgt. La David Johnson:

He was from Florida.

Johnson lived in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Hours after Johnson was identified as a fallen soldier in the Oct. 4 attack in Niger, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a statement:

“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. We will never forget their heroic actions and our hearts break for their families and loved ones. We will continue to pray for the safety of all our brave military members across our country and abroad.

He was married and was expecting his third child with his wife.

Johnson is survived by his widow Myeshia Johnson.

He was the father of a 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.

They were set to welcome their third child in January, according to Times.

>> RELATED: Letters to grieving families are a presidential tradition. Here are some famous ones

He was part of the “5,000 Role Models of Excellence” program.

Wilson founded the program in 1993 in an effort to recruit adult male role models and train them to help “at-risk” youth.

According to its official website, the program serves 103 schools within Miami-Dade County Public Schools, has more than 8,000 participants and more than 6,000 volunteers.

“He was a true role model,” Wilson told the Miami Herald about Johnson. She added that his cousins, who also went into the program, followed his example.

The program has launched a scholarship in his honor to ensure Johnson’s family, including his three children, will be able to attend college.

You can contribute at this GoFundMe page.

>> RELATED: Woman claims she was not permitted to sing national anthem on flight carrying remains of fallen soldier

He joined the Army in 2014.

According to MilitaryTimes.com, Johnson enlisted in January 2014 as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic.

Before joining the Army, he was known as the “Wheelie King.”

When he was a Walmart employee in Miami, many in the community knew Johnson as the local stunt rider who wore “wildly colored socks” and donned a T-shirt with “Wheelie King” written on it, Miami’s Local 10 News reported.

After news of his death was announced, some remembered him as the “Wheelie King” on social media.

He was the fourth U.S. soldier identified in the Niger ambush.

On Saturday, the Pentagon released Johnson’s name as the fourth soldier killed in the Oct. 4 attack.

>> RELATED: Georgia soldier among those killed in Niger attack

Johnson’s body was recovered two days later, on Oct. 6.

He was 25 years old.

The three other soldiers killed in the ambush were Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright.
It’s the first time American forces have been killed and wounded in combat in the country, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said during a news conference.

The soldiers were wounded while conducting a mission in support of Nigerian security forces, according to White.

They were attached to the Green Berets, which included the Nigerian patrol and were ambushed by Islamic militants near the Niger border with Mali, according to the New York Times.

Johnson’s awards and accolades include:

  • Army Achievement Medal
  • Army Good Conduct Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Medal
  • Army Service Ribbon
  • Army Parachutist Bade
  • Driver and Mechanic Badge
  • Marksmanship Qualification Badge
  • Canadian Parachutist Wings 

More about Johnson at MilitaryTimes.com.

Donald Trump (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

12 camels booted from beauty contest at Middle East festival over Botox use

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 6:16 PM


Camels were once prized across the Middle East for transportation, for use in war, for food and even as companions, as guides and partners. Now they’re prized for a whole different set of reasons, including their beauty and racing abilities, and are celebrated at annual camel festivals across the region.

>> Read more trending news 

But it was a little surprising when news reports began surfacing that at least 12 camels have been disqualified from a camel beauty pageant in Saudi Arabia after their handlers were caught using Botox on them.

The camels were among 30,000 of the desert beasts competing in the annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, according to The National, a United Arab Emirate-based news service.

Because a “perfect pout” is so valuable, camel owners will go to great lengths to ensure their camel has the proper assets, including “a full, droopy lip and large features,” The National reported.

“They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw,” Ali Al Mazrouei, 31, a regular at Gulf camel festivals and the son of a top Emirati breeder told the online site.

“It makes the head more inflated so when the camel comes it’s like, ‘Oh look at how big is that head is. It has big lips, a big nose,’” features the camels are prized for. They’re also prized for small ears and some handlers have been known to take matters into their own hands and perform plastic surgery on the ears to achieve a perfect ear.

It’s no wonder camel handlers are so serious about the appearance of their beasts and willing to risk disqualification to enhance their features: $57 million is at stake in prize money at this year’s festival.

>> Related: Giant burning spider spreads flames in apartment, after torched by tenants

Some 300,000 visitors have attended the second annual festival since it started in early January. It runs through the end of the month.


14-year-old accidentally shot, killed by older sister

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 2:53 PM


A 14-year-old Indiana boy was accidentally shot and killed by his older sister Sunday as they and their father prepared to go target shooting.

Rex William Pruett was shot at his father’s home in Campbellsburg, a small Indiana town located about 50 miles northwest of Louisville, Kentucky. Rex, a seventh-grader at Orleans Junior-Senior High School, died a short time after his father rushed him to a hospital. 

“The father received a phone call and, while he was on the phone, the daughter, in what appeared to be unintentional, shot her brother with a .22-caliber revolver,” Indiana State Police spokesman Chad Dick told The Times-Mail in Bedford.

Officials at the boy’s school, where his sister is a ninth-grader, said that extra counselors were brought in Monday to help students cope with the tragedy. Police investigators waited to release the boy’s name until those measures were in place. 

“The first-period teachers had a written statement to read about the incident and then, for any students that need additional help, we have counselors standing by,” Orleans Community Schools Superintendent Gary McClintic told the newspaper.  

Chris Stevens, principal of the siblings’ school, showed a news crew from WAVE 3 News in Louisville Rex’s locker, which was adorned Monday with photos and letters from his classmates. 

“This does remind you quite a bit of Rex,” Stevens told the station. “There were a lot of tears and a lot of smiles today.”

Stevens said that faculty members and administrators have made it clear to students that the shooting was accidental. When Rex’s sister returns to class, they will offer her their support, he said. 

Family and friends also offered the girl their support on Facebook, where she described her younger brother as “such a sweet little boy.”

“Much love, Rexy, much love. We will all keep you in our hearts,” the girl wrote. 

>> Read more trending news

Stevens described the rural community as one in which guns are part of everyday life.

“In our elementary, at the sixth-grade level, we have a gun safety course that all of our students are allowed to go through,” Stevens told the news station

McClintic, who said he taught Rex’s father when he was a teacher, described the boy’s family as a good one that had been involved with Orleans’ public schools for multiple generations. 

“It’s hard on the community, just as much as it is on the school,” McClintic told The Times-Mail

Johnny Henderson, pastor of Lost River Missionary Baptist Church in Claysville, said that Rex and his family attended services there the morning of the shooting.

“He was an outstanding young man,” Henderson said.

The pastor said the Pruett family needs support, not criticism over the shooting.

“They need support and people to pray for them for peace and comfort,” Henderson said. “They still have a hard time going forward. They still have a funeral to go to.

“They are going to be living without this young man.”

Should adolescence last until age 24? A group of scientists think so

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 4:53 PM


Adolescence is thought to end at about age 18, but a group of scientists wants to extend it to 24, according to a new report. 

>> Read more trending news 

Researchers from hospitals and research institutions in Australia recently conducted an experiment, published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, to determine the span of years that should define adolescence.

Traditionally, it is the period between childhood and adulthood, or generally from age 10 to 18. However, the researchers believe the biological and societal shifts over the last several decades indicate the need for an extension of adolescence. 

“Adolescence is the phase of life stretching between childhood and adulthood, and its definition has long posed a conundrum. Adolescence encompasses elements of biological growth and major social role transitions, both of which have changed in the past century,” they said.

>> Related: CDC: Adolescent habits with contact lenses risk eye infection

Young girls and boys develop earlier than previous generations, they noted. For example, many preteens begin menstruating at 10, while their parents and grandparents started at 14. 

They also pointed out that the adolescent brain does not stop developing until a person is in their 20s and that wisdom teeth now generally grow in at 25. 

Furthermore, young adults are getting married later in life. It’s more common for youth to settle down in their 30s as opposed to their 20s. And they’re leaving the nest later, too, which is expected by parents and society, they said. Analysts used the United States as an example, because insurance companies are now allowing adults to keep their kids on policies longer. 

>> Related: Gender stereotypes and gender norms effect on children

“Rather than age 10–19 years, a definition of 10–24 years corresponds more closely to adolescent growth and popular understandings of this life phase and would facilitate extended investments across a broader range of settings,” the authors wrote. 

Researchers believe the extension will encourage governments to better frame laws meant to protect youth and help young people on their journey through adulthood.

>> Related: The suicide rate for teen girls is the highest it’s been in 40 years — Is social media to blame?


Baby drowns, toddler injured in bathtub when woman walks away, police say

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 4:30 PM

A Nassau County Sheriff’s Office squad car is blocking a road that leads to a home in Fernandina Beach, Fla., Tuesday where one child died and another was injured in a bathtub incident. 
A Nassau County Sheriff’s Office squad car is blocking a road that leads to a home in Fernandina Beach, Fla., Tuesday where one child died and another was injured in a bathtub incident. (ActionNewsJax.com)

A 14-month-old baby girl is dead and a 3-year-old girl is clinging to life after deputies said their mother put them in the bathtub and walked away.

>> Read more trending news 

The incident happened Tuesday at a home in Fernandina Beach, Fla. Deputies arrived and started CPR immediately, authorities said.

They tried everything they could, but the 14-month-old girl didn't make it. The 3-year-old was taken to Baptist Medical Center Nassau in Fernandina Beach. 

Deputies quickly blocked off the road to begin an investigation. Deputies roped off the home with crime scene tape. 

Deputies say the 911 call came in around 1:20 p.m. Tuesday. The mother claimed she put the two kids in the bathtub and walked away, and when she came back, they were under water.

>> Related: 10-month-old baby drowns when intoxicated mother falls asleep in tub, police say

Authorities say any possible charges will not come until their investigation is complete.