Obama Awards Posthumous Medal of Honor to Green Beret
(October 7, 2010)
|WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2010 – President Barack
Obama paid tribute today to a young U.S. Army
Special Forces sergeant who gave up his life for
his fellow soldiers.|
During a White House ceremony, the president
awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor recognizing
Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller's 2008 actions in
Afghanistan. Miller's parents, Phil and Maureen
Miller, accepted the award.
President Barack Obama stands with Phil and Maureen Miller, parents of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, as the citation is read as part of the ceremony to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to their son in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 6, 2010. Miller was cited for heroic actions in Afghanistan on Jan. 25, 2008. White House photo by Pete Souza
“We are a nation of more than 300 million
Americans. Of these, less than 1 percent wears
the uniform of our armed services. And of these,
just a small fraction has earned the badges of
our special operations forces,” the president
said. “In the finest military the world has ever
known, these warriors are the best of the best.
In an era that prizes celebrity and status, they
are quiet professionals -- never seeking the
spotlight. In a time of war, they have borne a
burden far beyond their small numbers.”
The Medal of Honor is the highest military award
a servicemember can receive for valor in action
against a combatant force. Miller's Medal of
Honor is the seventh awarded, all posthumously,
to troops serving in the Iraq and
Afghanistan wars. A living soldier, Army Staff
Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, has been chosen for the award but has yet
to receive it.
“It has been said that courage is not simply one of the
virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point,”
Obama said. “For Rob Miller, the testing point came nearly
three years ago, deep in a snowy Afghan valley. But the
courage he displayed that day reflects every virtue that
defined his life: ... Devotion to duty. An abiding sense of
honor. A profound love of country.”|
Miller served as a weapons sergeant for Company A, 3rd
Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group Airborne. He was the
team's youngest member, on his second deployment to
His team was supporting an Afghan Border Police security
patrol in Kunar province Jan. 25, 2008. Taliban fighters
opened fire on the group from nearby buildings and from
behind boulders. The team called in air strikes on the enemy
position, but came under fire again when they moved forward
to search for survivors.
Miller's team captain was seriously wounded, and Miller
remained at the front of the patrol to lay down suppressive
fire as the captain was moved to safety. Other team members
bounded back over the snowy terrain to find cover and return
“Rob held his ground. Despite the chaos around him, he
radioed back enemy positions. As the only Pashto speaker on
his team, he organized the Afghan soldiers around him. But
the incoming fire, in the words of one soldier, was simply
‘astounding,'” the president said.
“Rob made a decision. He called for his team to fall back.
And then he did something extraordinary. Rob moved in the
other direction -- toward the enemy, drawing their guns away
from his team and bringing the fire of all those insurgents
down upon himself,” Obama said.
The young weapons sergeant continued to fire his weapon and
lob grenades at the enemy positions, drawing fire to cover
the team's movement even after he was wounded by machine-gun
fire. Army accounts of the incident said more than 100
Taliban fighters shot at Miller. Team members say he
returned fire for more than 20 minutes after he was wounded.
Then his weapon and radio went silent.
“This is the story of what one American soldier did for his
team, but it's also a story of what they did for him,” Obama
said. “Two of his teammates braved the bullets and rushed to
Rob's aid. In those final moments, they were there at his
side -- American soldiers there for each other.
“The relentless fire forced them back, but they refused to
leave their fallen comrade. When reinforcements arrived,
these Americans went in again - risking their lives, taking
more casualties - determined to bring Rob Miller out of that
valley. And finally, after fighting that raged for hours,
they did,” the president said.
Miller's courage saved his captain's life, and enabled seven
of his fellow Special Forces soldiers and 15 Afghan troops
to survive, gain cover and repel the attack, Army officials
The president said Miller's legacy endures in the love of
his parents, the pride of his brothers and sisters, in the
Afghans he trained and defended, and in the service of his
“Finally, Rob Miller -- and all those who give their lives
in our name -- endure in each of us. Every American is safer
because of their service. And every American has a duty to
remember and honor their sacrifice,” Obama said.
Miller was born in Harrisburg, Pa., and raised in Wheaton,
Ill. His family moved to Florida shortly after the young man
graduated from Wheaton High School. He joined the Army in
2003, graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course
in 2004 and completed the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant
Course in 2005.
In addition to his parents, Miller is survived by his
brothers Thomas, Martin and Edward; and sisters Joanna,
Mary, Therese and Patricia.
First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Defense
Secretary Robert M. Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Army Secretary John McHugh,
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Navy Adm.
Eric Olsen, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command,
attended today's ceremony.
Also on hand were several of Miller's teammates from Alpha
Company and more than 100 of his friends and family members.
Here is the text of Miller's Medal of Honor citation:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by
act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded, in the name
of the Congress, the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Robert
J. Miller, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and
intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of
Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller distinguished himself by
extraordinary acts of heroism while serving as the weapons
sergeant in Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha
3312, Special Operations Task Force 33, Combined Joint
Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan, during combat
operations against an armed enemy in Kunar Province,
Afghanistan, on January 25th, 2008.
While conducting a combat reconnaissance patrol through the
Gowardesh Valley, Staff Sergeant Miller and his small
element of U.S. and Afghan National Army soldiers engaged a
force of 15 to 20 insurgents occupying prepared fighting
positions. Staff Sergeant Miller initiated the assault by
engaging the enemy positions with his vehicle's
turret-mounted Mk 19 40-millimeter automatic grenade
launcher, while simultaneously providing detailed
descriptions of the enemy positions to his command, enabling
effective, accurate close air support.
Following the engagement, Staff Sergeant Miller led a small
squad forward to conduct a battle damage assessment. As the
group neared the small, steep, narrow valley that the enemy
had inhabited, a large, well-coordinated insurgent force
initiated a near ambush, assaulting from elevated positions
with ample cover.
Exposed and with little available cover, the patrol was
totally vulnerable to enemy rocket-propelled grenades and
automatic weapons fire.
As a point man, Staff Sergeant Miller was at the front of
the patrol, cut off from supporting elements and less than
20 meters from enemy forces. Nonetheless, with total
disregard for his own safety, he called for his men to
quickly move back to cover positions as he charged the enemy
over exposed ground and under overwhelming enemy fire in
order to provide protective fire for his team.
While maneuvering to engage the enemy, Staff Sergeant Miller
was shot in the upper torso. Ignoring the wound, he
continued to push the fight. Moving to draw fire from over
100 enemy fighters upon himself, he then again charged
forward through an open area in order to allow his teammates
to safely reach cover.
After killing at least 10 insurgents, wounding dozens more
and repeatedly exposing himself to withering enemy fire
while moving from position to position, Staff Sergeant
Miller was mortally wounded by enemy fire. His extraordinary
valor ultimately saved the lives of seven members of his own
team and 15 Afghan National Army soldiers.
Staff Sergeant Miller's heroism and selflessness above and
beyond the call of duty and at the cost of his own life are
in keeping with the highest traditions of military service
and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
Comment on this article
President Obama's Presentation of MoH to Robert J. Miller's Parents
Robert J. Miller's Medal of Honor Citation
Poem > Robert
Miller - Soldier Hero