Memorial Day hero: SSgt Robert J. Miller, US Army; Update: “Ask me about my son’s sacrifice”

posted at 10:08 am on May 30, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

There are many heroes we celebrate on Memorial Day who gave their last full measure of devotion for our country and for our liberty.  Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller, US Army, saved 22 of his comrades through his extraordinary courage and sacrifice in Konar Province, Afghanistan, on 25 January 2008.  This is his story, as reported in his Medal of Honor citation:

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.

On Veterans Day — and every other day of the year — we thank our veterans and our active-duty men and women for their service to our country.  On Memorial Day, we keep the families of those who gave their all for our freedom in our prayers.  There are many others whose stories never make it into newspapers and websites who now rest here and in foreign lands, and many more family members who love and miss them.  Please keep all of them in your prayers today.


Update: Via Andy at Ace’s place, here’s a Fox report from 2006 on how the military honors the fallen on Memorial Day. It’s well worth your time (via Twitter follower TN4P):

Update II: Coincidentally, the New York Post has a column written by SSgt. Miller’s mother for this Memorial Day weekend:

Three years ago, we replaced our original Blue Star banner with a Gold Star one, indicating an immediate family member who’d died in the service of this nation. My husband and I also wear Gold Star lapel pins, presented to each of us (as well as to our seven surviving children) at Rob’s funeral.

With some 5,500 soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen killed in action since 2001, the number of Gold Star families may seem small. To that total, however, America must add the parents, husbands, wives, siblings and children of those who lost loved ones in Vietnam and previous wars.

Wars may recede from the front pages to the history books, but no matter how far back the loss, the ache of a Gold Star family never goes away.

Unfortunately, people seem afraid of the best way to honor our fallen — simply asking the family to share their story. In our case, the knowledge that Rob acted with extraordinary heroism in his final minutes helped tremendously in easing our grief. Yet a misguided sensitivity about our loss seems to leave people afraid to even bring it up.

If only they knew the comfort that a polite inquiry could bring.

I chose the story of SSgt. Miller because it was among the most recent and perhaps not as recounted as some of the other MoH recipients.  Now, it seems like a choice that had more than chance behind it.  Please read all of Mauren Miller’s column.

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God bless those who serve our nation, and those families who wait for those who serve to come home & to The Men & Women in our armed forces who gave their lives for our freedoms.

portlandon on May 30, 2011 at 10:15 AM

God bless Staff Sergeant Miller and the countless others who died for the cause of liberty.

honsy on May 30, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Staff Sergeant Miller, and other heroes like him, and the sacrifices they made for their brothers in battle and their country, will not be forgotten by those who love this country. Godspeed to them all.

MadisonConservative on May 30, 2011 at 10:19 AM

My four year old daughter knows this Hero’s name and has ever since the Medal of Honor was awarded to him. I’m proud to say that she does NOT know who “Lady Gaga” is.

Tony737 on May 30, 2011 at 10:25 AM

May God bless the families of the fallen, and keep the souls of those who made the ultimate sacrifice close.

JetBoy on May 30, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Read a wonderful article by Staff Sargeant Miller’s mother in the NYPost, but can’t remember where I came across the link.

A memorable Memorial Day to all my American friends. Thank you for keeping us safe.

ProfessorMiao on May 30, 2011 at 10:27 AM

May god bless all those who serve our country, past, present and future and their families who must share in their hardships and sacrifice.

Vince on May 30, 2011 at 10:27 AM

please watch this interview with MMA fighter Brian Stann, retired Marine officer and Silver Star recepient.

He fought and won his match at UFC 130 Saturday with veterans and members of Seal Team 6 in attendance.

commodore on May 30, 2011 at 10:29 AM

Salutes.

hawkdriver on May 30, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Thank-you SSgt. Miller and all those who have sacrificed their tomorrows so that we may be gifted with our present. A gift we rightly honor, cherish, and celebrate this day, this moment, and for as far in the future the Lord grants us.

fourdeucer on May 30, 2011 at 10:37 AM

May we always be thankful and never forget.

Cindy Munford on May 30, 2011 at 10:38 AM

God Bless & keep Staff Sergeant Miller’s family and all our brave men and women who serve(d) this great country, and all their loved ones…
Much thanks, heartfelt appreciation and pride to all.
Prayers ascending as usual.

OmahaConservative on May 30, 2011 at 10:41 AM

May God bless them and may they rest in peace.

NeoKong on May 30, 2011 at 10:42 AM

The father of another Medal of Honor hero, Jared Monti, was on my plane one time. He walked onto the plane wearing a 10th Mountain Division hat. I said “Were you in the Army?” as I was reaching for a drink coupon to give him. He said “No, my son was” and handed me his son’s Medal of Honor coin. I was speechless! I knew who Jared was and what he did. I’d been doing this trivia question on the mic for years, asking passengers to name one of the MoH heros to get a free drink. When I gathered my composure while at cruise, I asked him to come to the back of the plane to talk to me. I told him his son was a hero of mine, he showed me Jared’s dog tags and as we were talking about the Medal of Honor, he said “Do you wanna see it?” I said “See what?” “The Medal.” “You have it WITH you?” He reaches into his carry on bag and pulls out the Medal of Honor in a shadow box. Again I was speechless, all I could do was salute it. We took some pix and I made a short video out of them …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJz6wksD-x0&feature=channel_video_title

When we landed I showed him the video I made from pix taken some time before at the Pentagon and Arlington which included Jared’s name …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsPO7MlFLC8&feature=channel_video_title

Meeting Jared Monti’s dad was on of the greatest honors of my life.

God bless Robert Miller, Jared Monti, Jason Dunham, Ross MacGinnis, Micheal Murphy, Paul Smith, Micheal Monsoor and the only living Medal of Honor hero from the War on Terror, Sal Giunta!

Tony737 on May 30, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Like the playing of Taps on Memorial Day… powerful, sad and inspiring.

Fallon on May 30, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Memorial Day hero: SSgt Robert J. Miller, US Army

God Bless You, And Keep You.

Dr Evil on May 30, 2011 at 10:47 AM

please watch this interview with MMA fighter Brian Stann, retired Marine officer and Silver Star recepient. – Commodore

The fighting pride of the United States Marine Corps, BRIAAAAANNNNNNNN THE ALL AMERICAAAAAANNNNNN STAAAANNNNNNN!!!

My favorite fighter since his first fight in the WEC!

Tony737 on May 30, 2011 at 10:49 AM

May God comfort SSgt Miller’s family.

I was raised by members of the Greatest Generation. It is today that we pause to remember their sacrifices at home and abroad. Not only theirs, but the sacrifices made by our Best and Brightest and their families, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

May God bless them all and may He hold them in the hollow of His hand.

Lest we forget.

kingsjester on May 30, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Nice video there Tony.

BallisticBob on May 30, 2011 at 10:55 AM

God bless Robert Miller, Jared Monti, Jason Dunham, Ross MacGinnis, Micheal Murphy, Paul Smith, Micheal Monsoor and the only living Medal of Honor hero from the War on Terror, Sal Giunta!

Tony737 on May 30, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Tony, thank you so very much for sharing that. I am very moved by those two videos and your story about all of these great heroes. May God Bless them and their families.

VegasRick on May 30, 2011 at 10:56 AM

Father, please hold all our fallen military in Your arms and comfort the families of those fallen. God bless each and every man and women who defend our Republic.
Amen.
L

letget on May 30, 2011 at 11:02 AM

They are laying the wreath in Arlington right now.

karenhasfreedom on May 30, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Rest in Peace S/Sgt Robert Miller. Hero.

skatz51 on May 30, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Lest we forget.

kingsjester on May 30, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Thanks for the link, I feature that video on my YouTube page :-)

And thanks Bob and Rick, it was an honor to meet Jared’s dad. I wanted to pull a “Wayne’s World” and say “I’m not worthy!” as I bowed!

Tony737 on May 30, 2011 at 11:13 AM

My father and all three of my mother’s brothers fought in WWII… Scattered around the globe they and their brave fellow Americans stopped evil’s advance. They put out the fires of fascism in Europe and brought victory and peace in the Pacific…
-
Thank God that such as those rose to the call.
-

RalphyBoy on May 30, 2011 at 11:13 AM

I’m not sure why I appreciate it so much, but this is one of my favorite soldiers quotes. I think it may be that it’s the reasoning of a man who had survived and was determined to remember what had happened and who had fallen. It’s what today is all about. And as much as Lincoln said, “It is for us, the living … ” Sam Watkins said it from the standpoint of having been in battle.

“Were these things real? Did I see those brave and noble countrymen of mine laid low in death and weltering in their blood? Did I see our country laid waste and in ruins? Did I see soldier marching, the earth trembling and jarring beneath there measured tread? Did I see the ruins of smoldering homes cities and deserted homes? Did I see the flag of my country, that I had followed so long, furled to be no more unfurled forever? Surely they are but the vagaries of mine own imagination… But hush! I now hear the approach of battle. That low, rumbling sound in the West is the roar of cannon in the distance.”

I hope we never forget men like Robert Miller. I hope we never diminish what they did for the sake of politcs.

hawkdriver on May 30, 2011 at 11:16 AM

I hope we never forget men like Robert Miller. I hope we never diminish what they did for the sake of politcs.

hawkdriver on May 30, 2011 at 11:16 AM

poloticians will do what they always do. Real Americans in Real America will NEVER forget what these brave men and women did for our country and folks like most of the people here at HA will stand up and be counted whenever needed.

VegasRick on May 30, 2011 at 11:26 AM

I hope we never forget men like Robert Miller. I hope we never diminish what they did for the sake of politcs.

hawkdriver on May 30, 2011 at 11:16 AM

From Your Lips To God’s Ear. Amen.

Dr Evil on May 30, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Lest we forget.

kingsjester on May 30, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Lovely post, KJ. My father in law was a nineteen year old Sargeant who fought in WWII. His wife kept all of his letters to her, from basic training through the end of the war. I have transcribed (summarized) his letters and sent it to his children and living siblings. It is a very personal and compelling story. We will never forget.

d1carter on May 30, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Tony737 on May 30, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Nice videos Tony.

Mord on May 30, 2011 at 11:31 AM

All of the above thoughts and more. So many heroes .

CWforFreedom on May 30, 2011 at 11:40 AM

It is always so difficult to read these stories for me, without tears flowing. I just can’t imagine what the families and loved ones go thru.

God bless them all. The parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, wives, children, and even friends…who have lost someone thru service, and especially Gods blessings to those who fought, and lost,but did so with honor, integrity, and love of country.

capejasmine on May 30, 2011 at 11:43 AM

To ALL US ARMED FORCES MEMBERS,thank-you for your Honour,
Courage,Sacrifice,and Duty,stationed abroad,and StateSide,

and Thank-You for Freedom,and to those that have fallen,
and for the LIBERATION of so many,

from Canada,

I Thank-You.

canopfor on May 30, 2011 at 11:45 AM

It is always so difficult to read these stories for me, without tears flowing. I just can’t imagine what the families and loved ones go thru.

God bless them all. The parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, wives, children, and even friends…who have lost someone thru service, and especially Gods blessings to those who fought, and lost,but did so with honor, integrity, and love of country.

capejasmine on May 30, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Amen to that.

VegasRick on May 30, 2011 at 11:46 AM

d1carter on May 30, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Thank you.

kingsjester on May 30, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Great post Tony. Thanks for sharing.

hawkdriver on May 30, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Thanks go out to all our vets and those who gave all to protect this country. I recall my mothers first cousin, her aunt and uncles oldest son. He died in WW2 flying over the English Channel after a bombing run in Germany. My dad served in the Army Air Force at the same time. Another of my mothers cousins was awarded the MOH and has a highway named after him in Lakeland, Fl. The best honor we can give them is remembrance.

Kissmygrits on May 30, 2011 at 11:50 AM

God bless all the brave men and women who have served in our military, especially those like Staff Sergeant Miller, who made the “ultimate sacrifice.”

bw222 on May 30, 2011 at 11:52 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E

This HAD to be posted.

VegasRick on May 30, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Thanks Ed for the tribute to SSG Robbie Miller. He lived the Special Forces motto, De Opresso Liber.

Here’s my favorite photo of SSG Miller at work!

rcl on May 30, 2011 at 11:59 AM

I caught this on PBS last night,and was awestruck!

Manila American Cemetery
and Memorial
*************

IN PROUD REMEMBRANCE OF THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF
HER SONS AND IN HUMBLE TRIBUTE TO THEIR SACRIFICES
THIS MEMORIAL HAS BEEN ERECTED BY
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
1941-1945
**********

http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ml_pict.pdf
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

MANILA AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL
*************************************

The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines occupies 152 acres on a prominent plateau, visible at a distance from the east, south and west. It contains the largest number of graves of our military dead of World War II, a total of 17,202, most of whom lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines. The headstones are aligned in 11 plots forming a generally circular pattern, set among masses of a wide variety of tropical trees and shrubbery.

This video presents a brief narrated tour of Manila American Cemetery’s landscaped grounds, architecture, and works of art.
(More…………)

http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ml.php



canopfor on May 30, 2011 at 12:01 PM

We will never forget — those who fought, and those who didn’t come back.

J.E. Dyer on May 30, 2011 at 12:02 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E

This HAD to be posted.

VegasRick on May 30, 2011 at 11:59 AM

VegasRick:Thank-you,its beautiful!:)

canopfor on May 30, 2011 at 12:09 PM

God bless our troops…past, present, and future.

StarLady on May 30, 2011 at 12:09 PM

canopfor on May 30, 2011 at 12:09 PM

I keep listening to it over and over and over……..I’m not a crier but I have a pretty good stream going right now. Must be hayfever……or something.

VegasRick on May 30, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Thanks Hawk and Mord.

Here’s my favorite photo of SSG Miller at work! – rcl

Excellent!

I wonder how many men going into boot cam had ANY idea that someday they’d be RIDING HORSES into battle?

Tony737 on May 30, 2011 at 12:16 PM

God Bless our troops! May our fellow countrymen remember their sacrifice and honor them and their families forever. Today I remember my dad who served 22 years in the US Navy. He served aboard the USS John S McCain from 1969 until 1972.

I love you and miss you dad!

csdeven on May 30, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Trace Adkins Arlington

BallisticBob on May 30, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Today, I remember SSG Eric Caban of ODA 781.

May we never forget the high cost of liberty.

Sgt Steve on May 30, 2011 at 12:28 PM

From Blackfive’s Military Motivator Memorial day

http://www.blackfive.net/main/2011/05/military-motivator-memorial-day.html

The first one always breaks my heart.

warren on May 30, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Here is the article by his mother:

Ask me about my son’s sacrifice

ProfessorMiao on May 30, 2011 at 12:39 PM

canopfor on May 30, 2011 at 12:09 PM
=======================

I keep listening to it over and over and over……..I’m not a crier but I have a pretty good stream going right now. Must be hayfever……or something.

VegasRick on May 30, 2011 at 12:13 PM

VegasRick:Oh,I get teared up too:)

canopfor on May 30, 2011 at 12:53 PM

From Miao’s link …


When I think of how Rob would most want people to feel about what he did, I recall the words of one of my youngest son’s teachers, an elderly Japanese-American who came to America after the Second World War. Several days after Rob died, she asked my son Ed about what had happened. He gave her the details that we knew at the time. In thickly accented English, this good woman got straight to the point: “So he died an honorable death.”

Sometimes it takes an immigrant to ‘get it’.

Tony737 on May 30, 2011 at 12:59 PM

I can’t think of anything profound. So…

THANK YOU TO ALL MILITARY FAMILIES WHO HAVE LOVED AND LOST.

SouthernGent on May 30, 2011 at 1:05 PM

America’s finest. God bless those who serve, and their families who sacrifice as well.

Southernblogger on May 30, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Working witht he Patriot Guard, you learned from the beginning to ask the families the sotry of their beloved children laid to rest.

Some of the stories were awesome to listen to and some were heart wrenching. You got a sense in most cases, on how they were a part of the world as a whole and how they interacted with their community.

Thank you to the Families of those Sons and Daughters who sacrificed for our Freedom.

You will never be forgotten!

upinak on May 30, 2011 at 1:18 PM

Do not mourn that they died, but thank God that they lived.” Gen. George Patton.

profitsbeard on May 30, 2011 at 1:23 PM

When I first heard this story back in October, I sobbed.
Now being a “Proud Army Mom” of 2 deployed soldiers, my heart breaks and I find myself sobbing all over again.

Rest in Peace SSgt Robert J. Miller.
My prayers are with you and your family….as with all our brave warriors.

HOOAH!

tencole on May 30, 2011 at 1:43 PM

“Do not mourn that they died, but thank God that they lived.” Gen. George Patton.

profitsbeard on May 30, 2011 at 1:23 PM

For Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller and all of our fighting men and women who gave their last full measure of devotion for our country and for our Liberty, I pray,

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord,
And let Perpetual Light shine upon them.
May their Souls
And the Souls of all the faithful departed
Through the Mercy of God
Rest in Peace.
Amen.

Zorro on May 30, 2011 at 1:47 PM

Thanks veterans, past, present and future!

ladyingray on May 30, 2011 at 2:15 PM

God’s healing hand on his family and friends.

Uncle Sams Nephew on May 30, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Words fail, but honor and courage speak for themselves. Salute to all on Memorial Day. We remember.

indypat on May 30, 2011 at 3:11 PM

They gave their hearts so one day we could love and be loved.
They spilled their blood in hopes we would never need to.
They gave their lives and futures so we could enjoy ours.
From us they asked little but to them we owe much.
Most of all we owe them for our freedom which rests on the shoulders of their sacrifice.

TXUS on May 30, 2011 at 3:33 PM

If you want to learn more about SSG Miller and the battle where he gave his life, the Army has an excellent animated description at this web site:

http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/miller/battlescape.html

The amazing thing about Robbie Miller and that fight is that you can make a very strong argument that he deserved the Medal of Honor twice that day. My prayers are with his family and his fellow soldiers.

Kaisersoze on May 30, 2011 at 4:20 PM

following hawkdriver’s example

Salute

Caststeel on May 30, 2011 at 5:25 PM

NRO’s “The Corner” has a series of salutes to our fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Scroll down the page at the link.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner

These men and women were young, courageous, patriotic on behalf of a worthy cause. It is such heroes that America salutes.

onlineanalyst on May 30, 2011 at 5:55 PM

I thank God for all who have given their lives to defend mine and our freedom. God bless them and comfort their families.

pannw on May 30, 2011 at 6:37 PM

I remember Hector Sandoval(don’t recall his rank) a US Marine who was killed in Cambodia during the summer of 1970.
Me-and WashJeff-graduated from high school with his daughter, Sandy. Sandy never knew her dad.
RIP Mr. Sandoval.

annoyinglittletwerp on May 30, 2011 at 11:22 PM

I wonder how many men going into boot cam had ANY idea that someday they’d be RIDING HORSES into battle?

Tony737 on May 30, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Glad you liked the picture Tony. SSG Miller was a man who loved his job. Pashtun speaker, Horseman, Warrior. It’s humbling that the Lord sends us men like that.

Your story and vids were wonderful. Thanks.

rcl on May 31, 2011 at 12:20 AM

Ed:

364 days a year I really like HotAir. It’s always my go-to first stop for news … of every kind.

1 day a year I truly love HotAir.

On Memorial Day.

You have no idea the good you do.

Tony737 on May 30, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Amazing story.

Professor Blather on May 31, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Unfortunately, people seem afraid of the best way to honor our fallen — simply asking the family to share their story. In our case, the knowledge that Rob acted with extraordinary heroism in his final minutes helped tremendously in easing our grief. Yet a misguided sensitivity about our loss seems to leave people afraid to even bring it up.
If only they knew the comfort that a polite inquiry could bring.

It is hard because no one wants to cause pain, but the most comforting act is to keep alive the memories of the brave men and women who gave their lives.

That is why this day is so important. I saw many flags in my neighborhood and it warmed my heart. Our channels of communication are so cynical, our schools so political, it sometimes seems we have lost our memories and failed to teach the next generation of the valor and the sacrifice made on their behalf.

America lives and the souls of the fallen will never die. God bless our brave soldiers! Thank you all for the sacrifice which can never be repaid on this earth.

entagor on May 31, 2011 at 12:37 PM