Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller served as a weapons sergeant in Afghanistan during the War on Terrorism. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his brave action in Kunar Province during a conflict in 2008. He served with the Special Forces Operation Detachment, Company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).
A Midwesterner through and through, Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller moved from Pennsylvania to Illinois in childhood. After high school, he enrolled at the University of Iowa before joining the United States Army. In 2003, he began training with the Special Forces and attended Airborne School at Fort Benning in Georgia. He deployed several times during Operation Enduring Freedom between 2006 and 2008.
Action in Afghanistan
On January 25, 2008, Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller was with a Special Forces unit patrolling Kunar Province just before sunrise. The team came across several large boulders blocking the road, and they had to demolish them to pass. Familiar with Taliban ambush practices, they knew the boulders might be a sign of enemy presence. As other members of the team executed the demolition, SSgt. Miller kept watch. Using drone surveillance, the team detected enemy combatants in the area. Miller began to fire from a grenade launcher attached to his vehicle. The enemy quickly returned fire, and Miller began to shoot them off with a machine gun.
Suddenly, SSgt. Miller noticed that several of his fellow service members had been cornered by enemy snipers. Acting fast, he ran forward and attacked the enemy shooters, taking several down. His swift action freed his teammates to move forward and assist in the counterattack. Miller charged the enemy again, launching grenades and killing multiple snipers. Thanks to his maneuvers, the rest of Special Forces was able to run for cover behind the rocks.
Mortally wounded and still charging forward
While defending his unit, Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller took a hit to the chest. Despite having a mortal wound, he continued to charge forward and fire at the enemy shooters. His relentless defense gave the team time to pull the captain out of the line of fire. Miller also spotted enemy shooters for his team, allowing Special Forces marksmen to quickly aim and shoot their targets.
By the end of the conflict, Miller had killed approximately 16 enemy combatants and wounded 60. Eventually, air fighters arrived to support the Special Forces team and end the attack.
The confrontation lasted nearly seven hours, but Miller succeeded at saving many in his unit while taking down numerous enemy shooters. President Obama presented Miller’s family with Miller’s posthumous Medal of Honor on October 6, 2010.