Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Overflow Crowd For Clermont Soldier's Funeral
This article comes from the Orlando Sentinel. The above photo shows members of the Patriot Guard Riders who attended the funeral of this American warrior:
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Clermont soldier's funeral draws overflow crowd
By Stephen Hudak
Sentinel Staff Writer
CLERMONT - Friends and relatives are gathering this afternoon to remember Army Spc. Alexander J. Miller of Clermont, who was killed July 31 in Afghanistan.
An overflow crowd turned out for visitation for Miller, 21, at First United Methodist Church of Clermont, where the funeral will follow at 2:30 p.m.
Miller, who attended East Ridge High in Clermont, died from injuries sustained after insurgents used rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire to attack his unit. He was with the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), based in Fort Drum, N.Y.
Kandace Freeland, 21, of Clermont, a longtime friend of Miller's who created a tribute page to the fallen soldier on Facebook, said, "I know he's watching over us. He's still protecting us, just in a different way."
Among those who showed up were 101 members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a volunteer group that honors fallen soldiers. Carl Swofford, 65, of Altamonte Springs, the group's ride captain for the funeral, understands what Miller's family is going through. His son, Warrant Officer Justin Swofford, 24, was killed in 2002 when a Florida Army National Guard helicopter crashed during an exercise at a training area at Camp Blanding near Starke.
Carl Swofford wore a gold star lapel pin on his T-shirt, which signifies that he has lost a child in the service.
"A lot of us have lost sons or daughters. A lot of us have family or friends serving. A lot of us are retired military," Swofford said. "Some of us just plain appreciate the military and what they do."
Last week, upon receiving the news, his mother, Sue Miller, told the Orlando Sentinel, "This is what he wanted to do his whole life. He wanted to serve his country."
She described her son, who hoped to attend the University of Central Florida after the Army, as "smart, funny and full of life."
Miller is also survived by brother Richard Miller, 23, of Clermont, and half brothers John Miller of California and Jason Grove of Tennessee.
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Our condolences to the family, friends, and fellow warriors of Specialist Miller.
Charles M. Grist