Thursday, October 14, 2010

American Patriot/Hero of the Week

This week's hero was recently honored at the White House where his parents were presented with his, posthumously awarded, Medal of Honor. Staff Sergeant Robert James Miller is the third soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sergeant Miller, a member of the Army's elite special forces unit,The Green Berets, was part of a mixed team of Afghan and Coalition forces, approximately two dozen strong, on a combat patrol in Kunar Province near the Pakistani border on January 25, 2008 when they spotted insurgents massing in a structure in the patrol area. The team opened fire on the insurgents while a team member called for close-air support which disrupted the enemy attack. While moving in to clear the area, the surviving insurgents in the structure, and the members of an ambush hidden in the surrounding surrounding valley walls, attacked, wounding the team captain and others.

While the commander was being pulled out of the line of fire, Miller laid down suppressive counter-fire on multiple enemy positions and moved away from his team drawing the enemy fire. His actions allowed the remainder of the team to regroup, find protection in the sparse cover and to return fire. Sergeant Miller was injured through both sides of his chest by enemy fire, but continued to radio enemy positions to his team while returning fire with his M249 and tossing grenades. Eventually his gun fell silent.

His team, surrounded by the enemy and under heavy fire, rushed forward to pull him to safety. The team fought for over two hours in an effort to retrieve Miller's body. The team members attempting to recover Miller were pushed back several times, taking several more casualties, but managed to kill enough of the enemy that when allied reinforcements arrived, they were able to retrieve his body.

The after action reports state that Miller's small team had engaged over one-hundred and fifty insurgents while suffering five wounded and one dead. Staff Sergeant is credited with killing sixteen of the enemy and wounding thirty others. Below is the text of Staff Sergeant Robert James Miller's Medal of Honor citation:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism while serving as the Weapons Sergeant in Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3312, Special Operations Task Force-33, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan during combat operations against an armed enemy in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on January 25, 2008. While conducting a combat reconnaissance patrol through the Gowardesh Valley, Staff Sergeant Miller and his small element of U.S. and Afghan National Army soldiers engaged a force of 15 to 20 insurgents occupying prepared fighting positions. Staff Sergeant Miller initiated the assault by engaging the enemy positions with his vehicle’s turret-mounted Mark-19 40 millimeter automatic grenade launcher while simultaneously providing detailed descriptions of the enemy positions to his command, enabling effective, accurate close air support. Following the engagement, Staff Sergeant Miller led a small squad forward to conduct a battle damage assessment. As the group neared the small, steep, narrow valley that the enemy had inhabited, a large, well-coordinated insurgent force initiated a near ambush, assaulting from elevated positions with ample cover. Exposed and with little available cover, the patrol was totally vulnerable to enemy rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapon fire. As point man, Staff Sergeant Miller was at the front of the patrol, cut off from supporting elements, and less than 20 meters from enemy forces. Nonetheless, with total disregard for his own safety, he called for his men to quickly move back to covered positions as he charged the enemy over exposed ground and under overwhelming enemy fire in order to provide protective fire for his team. While maneuvering to engage the enemy, Staff Sergeant Miller was shot in his upper torso. Ignoring the wound, he continued to push the fight, moving to draw fire from over one hundred enemy fighters upon himself. He then again charged forward through an open area in order to allow his teammates to safely reach cover. After killing at least 10 insurgents, wounding dozens more, and repeatedly exposing himself to withering enemy fire while moving from position to position, Staff Sergeant Miller was mortally wounded by enemy fire. His extraordinary valor ultimately saved the lives of seven members of his own team and 15 Afghanistan National Army soldiers. Staff Sergeant Miller’s heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty, and at the cost of his own life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army."

Staff Sergeant Miller was survived by his parents and seven brothers and sisters. He is a true American hero who sacrificed himself for his fellow soldiers, from several countries, for the Afghan people to have a chance to be free and for his country. Here is another example of an American who's story I feel truly honored to tell.

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