Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Green Beret, ‘He Called for His Team to Fall Back…(Then) Moved in the Other Direction, Toward the Enemy’

By Maya

Oct 6, 2010 4:08pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: The story of Green Beret Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller, President Obama said today, is one of a soldier standing so close to the enemy that he could see their faces and one who fired his weapon until it fell silent in saving the rest of his patrol. In awarding the nation’s highest military declaration, the Medal of Honor, posthumously to Sergeant Miller of Wheaton, Illinois today President Obama said that “devotion to duty, an abiding sense of honor, a profound love of country,” were the virtues that found their “ultimate expression” when Miller, just 24 years old, gave his life in battle on January 25th, 2008. While in the Northwest of Afghanistan Miller and his team had the mission to clear a valley of insurgency that had been attacking Afghan forces and terrorizing villagers. “Like so many times before, Rob was up front, leading a patrol of two dozen Afghans and Americans on a narrow trail along the valley floor,” the president recalled of Miller’s fateful day, “Within seconds, Rob and his patrol were pinned down with almost no cover, bullets and rocket- propelled grenades raining down from every direction.” Noting that the odds were overwhelming – with his patrol only two dozen men against a pack of 150 insurgents, President Obama said that Miller held his ground and radioed back enemy  positions with the enemy just feet away. “Rob made a decision,” Obama said, “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.” The president said that Miller “seemed to disappear into clouds of dust and debris,” all the while his team could still hear him on the radio calling out enemy positions and hear his weapon firing as he provided cover for his men. “And then, over the radio, they heard his voice. He had been hit. But still he kept calling out enemy positions. Still he kept firing. Still he kept throwing his grenades. And then heard it: Rob’s weapon fell silent.” Five men of his patrol were wounded, but the team had survived. “And 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’. ” The president said that no words can ease the ache in the hearts of Miller’s family and friends. “But I also know this: Rob’s life and legacy endures. Rob endures in the pride of his parents,” Obama said, “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. You gave your oldest son to America, and America is forever in your debt.” Noting the special relationship that Miller had a Green Beret with Afghani soldiers, the president said that his legacy also endured in them. “Rob endures in the Afghans that he trained and he befriended. In valleys and villages half a world away, they remember him: the American who spoke their language, who respected their culture and who helped them defend their country. They welcomed him into their homes and invited him to their weddings.” Miller’s parents have an Afghan rug hung in their house today, presented to them by the Afghani’s after this son’s death which President Obama said today is “a symbol of the partnership between the people of America and Afghanistan.” Miller’s family – mother and father and all seven brothers and sisters – were at the East Room ceremony today, as well as leaders from across the administration and Miller’ fellow soldiers.  The president said that Miller would be especially proud of his younger brother who “inspired by his big brother” is now training to be a Green Beret himself.

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