Monday, June 21, 2010

Army Pfc. David T. Miller

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. David T. Miller, 19, of Wilton, N.Y.

Pfc. Miller was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died June 21, 2010 from wounds sustained when a suicide bomber attacked his unit at Lar Sholtan Village, Afghanistan. Also killed was Spc. Andrew R. Looney.

David Taylor Miller was not your average 19-year-old, said his aunt Suzanne D'Iorio. The polite and respectful young man was just the kind of person who would make a wonderful husband someday, she added.

But sadly, this was not in the universe's plan for Miller, who was known by his middle name to friends and family. Miller was killed by a suicide bomber while fighting with the United States Army and the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan Tuesday morning.

"He (the suicide bomber) decided to detonate as he crossed a checkpoint surrounded by soldiers. He killed my nephew and one other," D'Iorio said. "He was 19. He had only just begun to hit his stride. He was the most kind-hearted person I've ever known; a gentle soul."

Miller moved to Saratoga Springs with his mother, Leslie Miller, from Amherst, Va. just over two years ago. He graduated from Saratoga Springs High School with the class of 2009 and considered fellow classmate Zachary Lafarr his best friend. His father, Jesse, still resides in Virginia.

During his time at Saratoga Springs High School, Miller played lineman for the varsity football team, wearing the number 72. Coach Terry Jones remembers Miller as a bright and well-liked teammate. "He always had a smile on his face," Jones said.

Superintendent of Saratoga Springs City School District Dr. Janice White issued a statement Tuesday evening after she had heard the news.

"A bright young man with so much potential was taken from our community. We grieve with his family in their profound sorrow. Less than one year ago, David crossed the stage at graduation. We graduate young men and women to be courageous and of good character. David Miller's service to our country has humbled us," she said.

After his high school graduation, Miller joined the Army.

“His loss has been devastating for me,” his Dad said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know what to do.” Jesse Miller said he knew his son as his best friend, who served communion at church, played football and was a great soldier. “One of the nicest kids I ever knew,” Miller said, “and not because he was mine.”

“I never met anyone who didn’t like him.” Miller said he still has the voicemail message that Taylor left for him last Sunday, Father’s Day. “He said, ‘Happy Father’s Day. Don’t forget I love you.’”

Miller, a former U.S. Marine, said he encouraged his son to attend VMI. Like any father, he said, he wanted his son behind a desk instead of joining the Army.

Taylor applied to the school, but was placed on a waiting list.

“Apparently he didn’t want to wait so he enlisted,” Miller said. “I didn’t want him to die in combat, but sadly, that’s what he did.”

"It was always in the back of his head. His father was a Marine and he was a history and war buff. It's something he was always interested in," D'Iorio said. "He loved to shoot his paintball gun with friends, probably as practice."

Miller left for Afghanistan on April 29. He was stationed at Fort Campbell and was a designated marksman in the Army. He was performing traffic detail at the time of his death in Kumar providence in Afghanistan. “He was an accurate, deadly shot,” said his father Jesse Miller, of Amherst County. “Very good —an expert.”

Congressman James Tedisco also mourns the loss of Miller, but praised his service as well.

"Another one of America's sons has paid the ultimate sacrifice as our community mourns the loss of one of its finest. In fighting for our basic American tenets - our democracy, our liberties - David Taylor Miller personified the greatness of our nation. This courageous young man exhibited the highest degree of service, dedication and honor. With today's somber news, my prayers go out to this hero and his family," he said.

Miller's burial will take place in Arlington Cemetery later this week and a memorial service for the local hero in Saratoga Springs is being planned for the near future, D'Iorio said.

Army Pfc. David T. Miller was killed in action on 6/21/10.

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