WASHINGTON — In a ceremony that mixed pain, pride and determination, President Barack Obama on Wednesday awarded the Medal of Honor to a young Army Green Beret who was killed fighting to save his patrol by holding off a Taliban ambush in a snowy Afghan valley two winters ago.
He told the parents of Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, "You gave your oldest son to America, and America is forever in your debt."
Miller, 24, was a Pashto-speaking Special Forces weapons expert who led a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol — and allied aircraft — in attacking a suspected Taliban compound in Afghanistan's Kunar province, near the Pakistani border.
In pre-dawn darkness on Jan. 25, 2008, his patrol was moving in to survey the damage when a much larger Taliban force opened fire. After ordering his comrades to fall back, Miller rushed forward, firing his weapon and hurling grenades in a bid to draw off the enemy attack. He fell to enemy fire.
Accepting the award from Obama were Miller's parents, Philip and Maureen Miller, while all seven of his brothers and sisters — and 12 members of his patrol — looked on. Obama noted Miller's brother Tom is currently undergoing Green Beret training. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Philip and Maureen Miller live in Oviedo.
Miller, who is buried at All Faiths Memorial Park in Casselberry, is the third U.S. service member from the Afghan conflict to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest medal for gallantry.
Soon, Obama will award the medal to a fourth, and the first living, recipient: Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, being honored for bravery during a 2007 Taliban ambush.