Local father opens up about son killed in Niger ambush

Local

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The keynote speaker at Monday night’s Memorial Day event in Johnson City was the father of a U.S. Army soldier who was killed overseas last year.

Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson grew up in the Tri-Cities area.

He was one of four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger in October 2017.

U.S. officials believe extremists linked to ISIS were responsible for that attack.

Jeremiah’s father, JW Johnson, tells News Channel 11’s Justin Soto his son grew up in Washington and Greene counties. He then went on to serve his country for nearly ten years.

His life, cut short less than a year ago at the age of 39.

Johnson shared his son’s story with the Tri-Cities community for the first time Monday.

He started the night out with a story.

“I thought it might be appropriate to tell you about a young man who grew up in this area,” Johnson said.

Johnson also served his country, as a marine.

“This little redheaded boy spent his time around military people, at some point in his life he became pretty troubled, he was a tough kid,” Johnson said about his son.

Johnson said his son had left Africa and within 30 days he was asked to come back.

“They were surrounded by approximately 100-150 ISIS members, when the firefight began he refused to quit. Some of his friends and comrades were getting so shot up that he exposed himself from cover and was wounded,” Johnson said, explaining the attack.

He went on to say that his son Jeremiah took a total of 13 wounds before he died.

There was a standing ovation from the audience once Johnson finished his story.

“He stood for freedom. He tried to save his friends and that’s very gallant,” Johnson said.

He told News Channel 11’s Justin Soto that he was proud of his son.

“It’s an honor and I understand that and accept that and that helps us get by,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Jeremiah was promoted posthumously to Sergeant First Class.

He also said his son planned to retire in our region because he loved it so much.

Now, Jeremiah’s wife and two daughters plan to move to our area.

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