Congressional Medal of Honor Winner, Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller

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Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller

Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. He gave his life to save those of his men and the Afghan soldiers with him. His mother said he used to have candy sent to Afghanistan to give to the children and when one of them found about his death, he cried. Robert J. Miller made a difference serving the country he loved so much that he would risk his life for his country and his men. He is forever a part of recorded history for his valor, integrity and honor.

US ARMY “…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…” Read here: Amy-Military

Remarks of the President of the United States…Rob and his team were in the remote northwest of Afghanistan.  Their mission:  clear a valley of insurgents who had been attacking Afghan forces and terrorizing villagers.  So when they came across an insurgent compound, Rob and his men made their move, unleashing their fire and calling in airstrikes.

Now, they were on foot, heading over to that destroyed compound, to assess the damage and gather intelligence.  It was still dark, just before dawn.  It was freezing cold — and silent, except for the crackle of their radios and the crunch of snow under their boots.  Like so many times before, Rob was up front — leading a patrol of two dozen Afghans and Americans on a narrow trail along the valley floor, the steep mountains towering over them.

First, it was just a single insurgent, jumping out from behind a boulder.  Then, the whole valley seemed to explode with gunfire.  Within seconds, Rob and his patrol were pinned down, with almost no cover — bullets and rocket-propelled grenades raining down from every direction.  And when enemy reinforcements poured in, the odds were overwhelming.  Rob’s small patrol of two dozen men was nearly surrounded by almost 150 insurgents.

With the enemy just feets away — some so close he could see their faces — Rob held his ground.  Despite the chaos around him, he radioed back enemy positions.  As the only Pashto speaker on his team, he organized the Afghan soldiers around him.  But the incoming fire, in the words of one soldier, was simply “astounding.”

Rob made a decision.  He called for his team to fall back.  And then he did something extraordinary.  Rob moved in the other direction — toward the enemy, drawing their guns away from his team and bringing the fire of all those insurgents down upon himself.

The fighting was ferocious.  Rob seemed to disappear into clouds of dust and debris, but his team could hear him on the radio, still calling out the enemy’s position.  And they could hear his weapon still firing as he provided cover for his men.  And then, over the radio, they heard his voice.  He had been hit.  But still, he kept calling out enemy positions.  Still, he kept firing.  Still, he kept throwing his grenades.  And then they heard it — Rob’s weapon fell silent.

This is the story of what one American soldier did for his team, but it’s also a story of what they did for him.  Two of his teammates braved the bullets and rushed to Rob’s aid.  In those final moments, they were there at his side — American soldiers there for each other.

The relentless fire forced them back, but they refused to leave their fallen comrade.  When reinforcements arrived, these Americans went in again — risking their lives, taking more casualties — determined to bring Rob Miller out of that valley.  And finally, after fighting that raged for hours, they did.

When the dust settled and the smoke cleared, there was no doubt Rob Miller and his team had struck a major blow against the local insurgency.  Five members of his patrol had been wounded, but his team had survived.  And one of his teammates surely spoke for all of them when he said of Rob, “I would not be alive today if not for his ultimate sacrifice.”

This is the valor that America honors today.  To Rob’s family and friends, I know that no words can ease the ache in your hearts.  But I also know this — Rob’s life and legacy endures.

Rob endures in the pride of his parents.  Phil and Maureen, you raised a remarkable son.  Today and in the years to come, may you find some comfort in knowing that Rob gave his life doing what he loved — protecting his friends and defending his country.  You gave your oldest son to America, and America is forever in your debt.

Rob endures in the love of his brothers and sisters, all seven of whom join us today.  Your brothers laid down his life so you could live yours in security and freedom.  You honor him by living your lives to the fullest, and I suspect Rob would be especially proud of his younger brother Tom, who, inspired by his big brother, is now training to be a Green Beret himself.

Rob endures in the Afghans that he trained and he befriended.  In valleys and villages half a world away, they remember him — the American who spoke their language, who respected their culture and who helped them defend their country.  They welcomed him into their homes and invited him to their weddings.  And in a sign of their lasting gratitude, they presented Rob’s parents with a beautiful Afghan flag — Afghan rug, which hangs today in the Miller home, a symbol of the partnership between the people of America and Afghanistan.

Rob Miller endures in the service of his teammates — his brothers in arms who served with him, bled with him and fought to bring him home.  These soldiers embody the spirit that guides our troops in Afghanistan every day — the courage, the resolve, the relentless focus on their mission:  to break the momentum of the Taliban insurgency, and to build the capacity of Afghans to defend themselves, and to make sure that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for terrorists who would attack our country.  That is their mission, that is our mission, and that is what we will do.  And I would ask Rob’s team, who were with him that day, to please stand and be recognized.  (Applause.)

Finally, Rob Miller — and all those who give their lives in our name — endure in each of us.  Every American is safer because of their service.  And every American has a duty to remember and honor their sacrifice…

 

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