|SSG Robert Miller Awarded Medal of Honor|
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Fallen hero receives Medal of Honor
By Mark K. Matthews, Orlando Sentinel Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Calling his sacrifice the "true meaning of heroism," President Barack Obama on Wednesday presented the Medal of Honor to the Oviedo family of Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, who died in January 2008 protecting a patrol of American and Afghan soldiers.
"It has been said that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point," said Obama, addressing a solemn crowd in the East Room of the White House. "For Rob Miller, the testing point came nearly three years ago, deep in a snowy Afghan valley. The courage he displayed that day reflects every virtue that defined his life."
On hand to accept the military's highest award for valor were his parents, Phil and Maureen Miller, who stood stoically as the decoration was presented and their son's heroism was recounted. Afterward, they stepped outside to read a brief statement on a chilly Washington afternoon.
"We want everyone to know he loved what he was doing. He was good at what he was doing. And he believed he was working for a good cause," Maureen Miller said.
Added her husband: "As a child, Rob was full of energy and constantly on the go, and he enjoyed learning new things. He showed all of us what America's youth is capable of doing when given the opportunity."
Their son is buried in Central Florida; his family moved to Oviedo soon after Robert Miller graduated from high school in Illinois, where he grew up.
Miller, who died at 24 on his second tour in Afghanistan, is only the third service member from that conflict to receive the Medal of Honor. The Green Beret earned the distinction when his team of eight U.S. Special Forces and about 15 Afghan troops, with Miller on point, was caught in a ferocious ambush by insurgents in northwest Afghanistan.
His side outnumbered by 6-to-1 or more, Miller held his ground against a barrage of automatic fire -- calling out positions and helping his fellow soldiers find cover. Then, making himself a target to more than 100 enemies, Miller charged the insurgents in a rush that ultimately cost the life.
"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 military credits Miller with killing at least 10 insurgents and wounding dozens more, as well as saving his team. His brothers-in-arms were on hand at the White House ceremony and stood silently and unsmiling when Obama recognized their efforts and fallen comrade.
"One of his teammates surely spoke for all of them when he said of Rob, 'I would not be alive today if not for his ultimate sacrifice,'" said Obama, who then addressed his parents.
"Today and in the years to come, may you find some comfort in knowing that Rob gave his life doing what he loved -- protecting his friends and defending his country."
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Our condolences to his family, friends, and fellow warriors. America is blessed to have such sons....
Charles M. Grist