Fallen Wheaton soldier receives Medal of Honor

October 6, 2010 (WASHINGTON)

Staff Sergeant Robert Miller died in the line of duty in Afghanistan in 2008. The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military honor. At 24, Miller was the youngest Green Beret in his squad.

The solemn ceremony was held in the East Room of the White House. President Obama told Miller's family the the young man had extraordinary courage and was "born to lead."

The president recounted the battle near the Pakistan border on January 25, 2008, in which Miller was killed, "like so many times before, Rob was up front."

President Obama said though injured twice in the chest, Staff Sgt. Miller continued to advance with his troops, firing and hurling grenades at the insurgents during the nighttime patrol. He drew fire away from his fellow soldiers and saved their lives.

"Phil and Maureen you raised a remarkable son. Today, and the years to come, may you find some comfort knowing that Rob gave his life doing what he loved, protecting his friends and defending his country. You gave your oldest son to America and America is forever in your debt," said President Obama.

"I wish Rob was here to receive this himself," said Phil Miller, father.

"It is overwhelming, but it's all about Rob. That's the important thing to keep the focus on Rob," said Maureen Miller, mother.

Teams throughout his life – from the Army and Chicago – came to honor and support the soldier and his family.

"If it wasn't for Robbie, there would probably be a lot of us dead or wounded, he saved us all from that," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas McGarry, Us Army. "I looked to my right to see where he was. I literally saw him charging the enemy."

"He saved my life and the lives of numerous soldiers that day - both American and Afghan," said Major Robert Cusick, U.S. Army.

During the deadly firefight, Miller killed 16 insurgents and wounded 30 others. Miller is credited for saving the lives of seven U.S. soldiers who were at Wednesday's ceremony and 15 Afghan Army men.

"His ability to engage the enemy allowed us and myself to be medevaced off the battlefield and allowed the rest of the team to pull back and get back to the base alive," said Major Cusick.

That drive is what Miller's teammates remember when he was a gymnast at Wheaton North.

"In high school, he was driven. It was almost like he was driven by more than himself. He wanted to carry the team, help the team out," said Bobby Kaye, fellow Wheaton gymnast.

"We're very appreciative of the outpouring of support from Chicago, particularly his friends and a few other people who helped influence him and have come here to be part of the ceremony," said Maureen Miller. "Growing up in Wheaton, it is a family-oriented community. Certainly met a lot of very good, committed people who are there, people who had a positive influence on Rob."

President Obama talked about Miller's family, his siblings, especially one of them who is now becoming a soldier following his brother's footsteps by training to become a Green Beret.

"I think it's bringing closure for the team and family. It doesn't stop today. It's always something we will live with and think about," said Major Cusick.

Staff Sgt. Miller was also remembered for his bravery at a service at St. Michael Church and School in Wheaton. The students and staff participated in a Mass and procession in his memory. They gathered at a plaza outside the school that was dedicated to Miller.

Staff Sgt. Miller moved to Wheaton at the age of 5. He attended St. Michael School and graduated from Wheaton North High School where he was captain of the gymnastics team.

Miller is the third U.S. Military member who has served in Afghanistan to receive the Medal of Honor.

An Army website, http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/miller>army.mil/medalofhonor/miller honors Miller and details his bravery during battle. Click on the "battlescape" tab at the top of the site to see the animation recreating the battle.

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