Thursday, September 06, 2007

Army Pfc. Mykel F. Miller

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Mykel F. Miller, 19, of Phoenix

Pfc. Miller was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment, Arizona Army National Guard Phoenix; died Sept. 6, 2007 in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained during combat operations.

Phoenix guardsman dies in combat in Afghanistan
The Associated Press
PHOENIX — An Arizona National Guard soldier has been killed in combat in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Saturday.

Pfc. Mykel F. Miller of Phoenix died of wounds he suffered while his unit was engaged in combat in Zabul province on Thursday. The 19-year-old was assigned to Company B of the Arizona National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment, based in Gilbert.

Miller’s family, via the National Guard, made the following statement: “Mykel was very proud to serve his country.”

More than 600 members of the 1st Battalion left Phoenix in January for training, then shipped out for a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in March.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, loved ones and fellow soldiers of Private First Class Miller,” Major General David P. Rataczak, who commands the Arizona National Guard, said in a statement. “This young man epitomized everything good and honorable about being an American and a citizen soldier.”

Miller was the unit’s second combat casualty. The other unit soldier killed in combat was Sgt. Charles R. Browning, 31, of Tucson. He died June 1 in Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan, after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.

Slain Phoenix guardsman like surrogate son to school staff
By Terry Tang
The Associated Press

PHOENIX — While teachers or school counselors are the last people many teenage boys would confide in, Mykel F. Miller found surrogate mothers in the female staff at his school’s counseling department.

“He liked attention from us. He would come in and he would tell us about his job or something that might’ve happened with his younger brother. He just shared a lot with us,” said Beth Lyons, a counseling assistant at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix.

Miller was a teacher’s assistant for guidance counselors his senior year.

The Arizona Army National Guard private first class died of wounds he suffered while his unit was engaged in combat in the Zabul province in Afghanistan on Sept. 6.

Lyons said the 19-year-old had always made time to show his enthusiasm for joining the National Guard. In between homework and working at Baskin-Robbins, Miller would help organize military visits to campus and participate in weekend drills at the Arizona National Guard base.

“He would always come in Monday morning after those weekends sore and tired. ... He wasn’t complaining. He liked it,” Lyons said.

Diana Brown, a career counselor, got a treat last month when Miller unexpectedly called her from Afghanistan. He discussed his daily routine and his return visit sometime in the fall.

“I had mentioned that I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of him in his uniform. He said he’d be here and as soon as he arrived, he would call and that I should have my camera,” Brown said.

An avid fan of motorcycles, Miller also could salsa dance and break dance. He also made sure to dress stylishly. Whenever he wore one of his many polo shirts, Brown said, Miller would turn the collar up.

“I would always tease him ... put the collar down and he was like ‘Mrs. Brown, I got my own style,’ ” Brown said.

The attention Miller paid to his counselors made him stick out among thousands of students.

“You have a lot of students that come and go. Then you have the special ones, the kind that get attached, those who need that extra push,” Brown said. “They get in our hearts and become like our own. And Mykel was one of those to me.”

Miller was assigned to Company B of the Arizona National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment, based in Gilbert. Survivors include his mother, Maria, and stepfather, David Miller.

Funeral services are planned for Sept. 18 at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Phoenix.

Army Pfc. Mykel F. Miller was killed in action on 9/6/07.

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