Friday, January 25, 2008

Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, 24, of Iowa City, Iowa

SSgt. Miller was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Jan. 25, 2008 in Barikowt, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when he encountered small-arms fire while conducting combat operations.

Former University of Iowa student killed in Afghanistan
The Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A former University of Iowa student was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced on Saturday.

Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller died in Barikowt, Afghanistan. He suffered wounds during small-arms fire, according to the Department of Defense press release.

Robert Miller’s mother, Maureen Miller, of Oviedo, Fla., told The Gazette of Cedar Rapids that her son had attended the University of Iowa for one year before leaving school to enlist in the Army Special Forces.

She declined further comment, the newspaper reported. A phone message from The Associated Press was not immediately returned.

Miller worked in Special Forces as a weapons sergeant. He was assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group Airborne, which was based in from Fort Bragg, N.C.

According to the Department of Defense, he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 and awarded with the Army Commendation Medal with Valor for courage in the face of the enemy.

He was awarded eight other medals while in service, including the Army Good Conduct Medal, two Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development ribbons, the Ranger Tab and Special Forces Tab.

During his deployment in Afghanistan, Miller earned a promotion to staff sergeant.

Miller was born Oct. 14, 1983 in Harrisburg, Pa. He enlisted in the Army as a special forces candidate on August 2003, and became a Green Beret in 2005.

Miller is survived by his parents, Philip and Maureen Miller; brothers Thomas, Martin and Edward; and sisters Joanna, Mary, Therese and Patricia, all of Oviedo, Fla.

Fallen Green Beret gets battlefield salute
Staff report

Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, who was killed in action Friday in Afghanistan, was honored by hundreds of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who lined the tarmac and roadway at Bagram Airfield on Sunday to pay their last respects.

Miller was a member of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).

According to a press release from U.S. Army Special Operations Command, he was killed by Taliban fighters as he protected his fellow Operational Detachment Alpha soldiers during combat operations near the Pakistan border.

The firefight took place near the village of Barikowt in the Nari district in Afghanistan’s Konar province during a security patrol with Afghan border police in the Chenar Khar Valley, the release said.

On Sunday, Miller’s flag-draped casket was carried in a tactical vehicle to a waiting Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft, and as the vehicle passed the line of his uniformed comrades, each stood at attention and saluted him for the last time.

Soldiers from Special Operations Task Force 33 formed a cordon leading to the ramp as his brothers in arms serving as pallbearers escorted Miller’s remains into the aircraft’s empty cargo area, the release said.

“He was always quick to volunteer and never thought it should be any other way. On numerous occasions when the Detachment was faced with a difficult task, Robby would just stand up and say, ‘I got this one, I’ll do it, send me,’” Capt. John Bishop of Special Operations Task Force 33 and Miller’s former detachment commander, said at the ceremony.

The release stated that on Jan. 25 Miller was leading a team of Afghan security forces and other coalition soldiers during a combat reconnaissance patrol in Konar Province, near the Pakistan border when insurgents hiding in a structure attacked Miller’s team.

A fellow teammate called for close-air support to drop ordnance on the insurgent position, which momentarily disrupted the attack. But when the combined patrol moved toward the structure to check for any remaining enemy threats, the insurgents again fired using heavy weapons.

Miller’s team captain was seriously wounded within the first minutes of the attack, and while he was being moved to safety, Miller returned fire, remaining at the front of the patrol to lay down suppressive fire on several enemy positions.

Even while injured by direct enemy small arms and machine gun fire, Miller continued to fire his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and grenades to suppress enemy fire and protect his teammates, who gained cover and also returned fire.

Miller, who was one of eight brothers and sisters, enlisted as a Special Forces trainee on Aug. 14, 2003, according to the release.

He graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course on Sept. 26, 2004, and the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant Course Mar. 4, 2005.

During his last deployment to Afghanistan from August 2006 to March 2007, Miller received two Army Commendation Medals for Valor for his courage under fire, the Army release said.

Miller returned to Afghanistan for his second tour in October 2007, where he served as a weapons sergeant for his team.

Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller was killed in action on 1/25/08.

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