HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - Family and friends of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, and even some who didn't know him, are preparing to say their final goodbyes to the nation's hero, who was among four soldiers killed in Niger.
Johnson's body was at Fred Hunter's Funeral Home Friday in Hollywood where the body was transported to earlier this week.
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The soldier's body left the funeral home just after 2 p.m. for the church where the viewing will be held, escorted by Miami Gardens police officers on motorcycles and Broward Sheriff's Office deputies in patrol cars.
The South Florida soldier who was killed in an ambush attack in Africa returned home on Tuesday.
The Delta flight carrying the 25-year-old Army sergeant's body landed at Miami International Airport to a water cannon salute from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue as the plane taxied to the gate.
As his casket emerged from the cargo area of the plane draped in an American flag, his young, pregnant widow, Myeisha Johnson, laid herself over it, crying, with their young daughter by her side.
It has undoubtedly been a difficult week for La David Johnson's grieving loved ones, leading up to this weekend when they invite the public to join them in saying their final goodbyes.
The public viewing will be held Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Christ the Rock Church in Cooper City.
Sky 10 was above the church Friday afternoon as the soldier's casket was unloaded from the hearse and wheeled into the church.
Some of the people who showed up to the church to pay their respects included veterans, like L.C. Deal and Mick Pacheco.
"I'm here for the fallen soldier. I'm here for his family," Deal said. "I think they need to feel that they aren't just out here because they lost a loved one. There's a healing process and it's going to take time."
"My condolences to her and her family," Pacheco said. "I hurt maybe not as much as you, but I hurt deeply because it's that kind of bond, and God Bless your family. I want to thank your husband for putting up the ultimate sacrifice and may he rest In peace."
Johnson's funeral service will be held Saturday at the same church from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Following the funeral, there will be a procession from the church back to the funeral home in Hollywood.
The Hollywood Fire Department will fly an American flag at the entrance to the cemetery as the procession makes its way in.
The U.S. has launched an investigation into the deadly ambush that killed Johnson and 3 other U.S. troops.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, called for a congressional investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
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