USA — Medal of Honor Recipient Inducted Into Hall Of Heroes

WASHINGTON — A Pen­ta­gon cer­e­mo­ny today for­mal­ly inscribed the name of Army Spe­cial Forces Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, who yes­ter­day was award­ed a posthu­mous Medal of Hon­or, onto the nation’s list of mil­i­tary heroes.

Medal of Honor ceremony for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller
Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates address­es the audi­ence dur­ing a Medal of Hon­or cer­e­mo­ny for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller at the Pen­ta­gon, Oct. 7, 2010. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma posthu­mous­ly award­ed Miller the nation’s high­est hon­or for his hero­ic actions on Jan. 25, 2008, in Afghanistan where Miller sac­ri­ficed his life to save the lives of his team­mates and 15 Afghanistan sol­diers.
DOD pho­to by Cherie Cullen
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In Jan­u­ary 2008, Miller, at age 24, died in action in Afghanistan, charg­ing the ene­my through a hail­storm of bul­lets to give 22 oth­er sol­diers a chance to sur­vive. Today, Miller’s fam­i­ly, team­mates, and friends gath­ered at the Pen­ta­gon along­side the U.S. military’s most-senior lead­ers to hon­or their fall­en son’s life, hero­ism and courage.

Today’s Pen­ta­gon cer­e­mo­ny marked Miller’s entry into the building’s Hall of Heroes, where his name and the details of his ser­vice will join those of oth­er Medal of Hon­or recip­i­ents.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates praised Miller’s brav­ery and sac­ri­fice, and the sac­ri­fice of Phil and Mau­reen Miller, the fall­en soldier’s par­ents.

“Every evening I write notes to the fam­i­lies of young Amer­i­cans — as I did to the Millers — who have giv­en this coun­try the supreme sac­ri­fice,” Gates said. “They are our country’s best, the nation’s sons and daugh­ters, who answered the call of ser­vice to defend this coun­try in a time of war.”

Ser­vice­mem­bers such as Miller, Gates said, had “answered what Theodore Roo­sevelt described as ‘the trum­pet call,’ which he said: ‘Is the most inspir­ing of all sounds, because it sum­mons men to spurn all ease and self-indul­gence and bids them forth to the field where they must dare and do and die at need.’ ”

“Rob [Miller] was one who answered that trum­pet call, one who also pos­sessed that extra mea­sure of courage and deter­mi­na­tion to be at the very tip of the spear in America’s wars,” the sec­re­tary said.

Gates also recount­ed the medal’s his­to­ry and mean­ing.

“Over the past cen­tu­ry, it has gone only to the bravest of the brave, with few­er than a thou­sand recip­i­ents out of the mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who have served in uni­form dur­ing that time,” Gates said. “It goes to those who demon­strate excep­tion­al brav­ery in the face of ene­my fire. But it also demands some­thing more of an indi­vid­ual: The knowl­edge that by embark­ing on a course of action, los­ing one’s life is not only pos­si­ble, it is quite like­ly.”

Dur­ing Army Sec­re­tary John M. McHugh’s remarks at the cer­e­mo­ny, he described Miller’s inter­ests in gym­nas­tics, bas­ket­ball, his­to­ry, lan­guages and the mil­i­tary as he was grow­ing up. Lat­er, as a young Green Beret, Miller brought his char­ac­ter­is­tic inten­si­ty, enthu­si­asm, lead­er­ship and ded­i­ca­tion to the job, the Army sec­re­tary said.

“He was fun­ny, gen­er­ous, pas­sion­ate and deter­mined,” McHugh said of Miller. “He was some­one we would all have liked to know … a life that while too short, was a life of extra­or­di­nary mea­sure.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny that Miller’s life offered “a glimpse of what is best about our coun­try.” And watch­ing Miller’s par­ents, broth­ers and sis­ters inter­act, Casey said, made it clear how the young man had turned out to be so extra­or­di­nary.

“Each of them had a role in mak­ing Robert the man that he was,” Casey said.

The Millers accept­ed a Medal of Hon­or flag on their fall­en son’s behalf, and unveiled the plaque bear­ing his name that will be dis­played in the Hall of Heroes.

Phil Miller spoke of his son before the ceremony’s con­clu­sion.

“Robert loved what he was doing very much,” Miller said. “He was proven to be very good at what he was doing. And there was no ques­tion that he was con­fi­dent he was fight­ing and serv­ing for a good cause.”

Miller said his son was a nor­mal, active, mis­chie­vous boy while grow­ing up.

“My wife and I believe he is a great exam­ple of what America’s youth can do, and how well they can per­form, when they’re giv­en the respon­si­bil­i­ty and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do so,” he said.

“We miss him ter­ri­bly.”

Miller’s actions in Afghanistan as weapons sergeant for Com­pa­ny A, 3rd Bat­tal­ion, 3rd Spe­cial Forces Group have been much-pub­li­cized since the award of his medal was announced in Sep­tem­ber. But a few days before the Jan­u­ary 25, 2008, ambush where Miller gave his life, he and a team­mate had talked about how they want­ed to be remem­bered.

In an inter­view before this week’s cer­e­monies, Staff Sgt. Nicholas McGar­ry said dur­ing that con­ver­sa­tion, Miller had told him he want­ed to be remem­bered for how he had lived, and not how he died. As the two sin­gle guys on the team, McGar­ry recalled that he and Miller hung out togeth­er, and rode moun­tain bikes after work.

“He was incred­i­bly joy­ful – a moti­vat­ed, ener­getic per­son,” McGar­ry said of his depart­ed friend. “Just a good friend to have around, because he always want­ed to do some­thing. He was always in a good mood –- kind of a play­ful spir­it, I guess.”

McGar­ry said he thinks about Miller every day.

“He was a good friend,” McGar­ry said. “But if it was­n’t for him, I would­n’t be here.”

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma yes­ter­day pre­sent­ed the Medal of Hon­or posthu­mous­ly to Miller’s par­ents dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny held in the East Room of the White House.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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