Oct. 7, 2010 - Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony for Staff Sgt. Robert Miller
October 15, 2010
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for coming out here and joining us as we honor Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller and the Miller family. I know that nothing brings a family together like organizing them to get through security at the Pentagon in the morning. The Millers have braved that, and some of the friends of the Millers who came on the bus might not have known it, but as you were walking in Maureen was in my office tapping on the window trying to get your attention.
I want to especially welcome the Miller family, and I'd like to take a second to introduce them because I've had the opportunity to spend a little time with them over the last few days. I can tell you that it's clear by watching them interact with each other that each of them had a role in making Robert the man that he was.
His mom and dad, Phillip and Maureen are here; great to see you. Sitting next to his mom is his brother Tom, and Tom, wearing the uniform is in the Special Operations Qualification Course. At dinner the other night, he was sitting between the Secretary of the Army and Lt. Gen. Mulholland, and I can tell you, he looked like he'd rather be any place else in the world.
Younger brother Ed, sister Mary, holding granddaughter Lynn, and Lynn is gracing the front page of the White House website today with the First Lady. Therese is in the second row, next to Pancho, who is a friend of Mary's, and I won't go beyond that Pancho.
Patty is next to Hank, the oldest grandchild, Marty, Joann, and her husband, Mike. How about a big hand for all the Miller family.
I didn't want to leave out the little guy, Mark, who's in his Mom's arms there and has done very well through two days of ceremonies.
Secretary Gates, Secretary McHugh, Sergeant Major, and Lt. Gen. Bob Foley, Medal of Honor winner himself. Bob thanks for being here with us and thanks for your service to your Army and to your country.
Today we induct Staff Sgt. Rob Miller into our Hall of Heroes, a place of honor and inspiration inside of the Pentagon that serves to remind us of why we serve and of the extraordinary sacrifices that ordinary Americans have made for their country and their comrades. Over 3400 Americans are enshrined in this Hall; 2400 of them are Soldiers: names like Joshua Chamberlain, Sgt. Alvin York, Sgt. Audie Murphy, Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez, Master Sgt. Gary Gordon, and Sgt. 1st Class Randy Shughart.
Yesterday, Rob Miller became a part of the history of our Army, and of our country. Today he joins these heroes in the Pentagon. When I think about the Hall of Heroes which is actually just down the corridor from here, and I think about the heroes that are enshrined in it, I think about the history that they represent. I am struck by how lucky we are as a country to have generation after generation of men and women who believe so strongly in the values and ideals that this country stands for that they are willing to put their life on the line to secure them. I am humbled to be part of an Army that attracts and produces men and women like Staff Sgt. Rob Miller.
Rob was by all accounts an extraordinary young man: a natural leader, a skilled Soldier, and a dedicated friend. He embodied the Army values and he lived the warrior ethos: I will always place the mission first; I will never accept defeat; I will never quit; and I will never leave a fallen comrade. In him, we see glimpses of what is best about our country, America.
Rob had a love of country and an infectious sense of adventure that led him to enlist in the Army in August of 2003, and like all of our service men and women today, he willingly joined an Army already at war. Right out of the gate, he headed for our toughest assignment: Special Forces. Since their founding, Army Special Forces have been our elite, masters of unconventional warfare, and training foreign militaries. President Kennedy recognized this in 1962 when he authorized Army Special Forces to wear the Green Beret. He called that Beret a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage and a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom. Today, these truly quiet professionals remain the best our nation's military has to offer. Rob wore his Green Beret proudly and moved quickly through the ranks.
His leadership skills were clear. He was promoted to Sergeant in just two years. He became a non-commissioned officer and a leader of soldiers. At only 24, he was the youngest member of his company: A Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. Yet Rob earned a reputation for taking on difficult challenges and leading from the front. He did this and more on that January morning in 2008.
The President spoke eloquently yesterday about Rob's actions that day, capturing the intensity of the pre-dawn action in which Staff Sergeant Miller single-handedly charged into the overwhelming fire of a force of more than 100 insurgents in prepared, defensive positions. Even after he was wounded, he maneuvered to engage the enemy and continued to draw the fire of the insurgents onto himself to allow his team to move to covered positions.
His extraordinary valor ultimately saved the lives of the seven members of his own team and 15 Afghan Soldiers. For these heroic actions President Obama awarded Staff Sgt. Miller the Medal of Honor, and in doing so, he talked about the bond of trust that has bound the Soldiers of our Army together and sustained us through nine difficult years of war. Nowhere is that bond more prominent than in the Special Forces A Team. After movingly recounting the actions of Rob that day, the President said this, "This is the story of what one American Soldier did for his team, but it's also a story about what they did for him."
Two of his teammates braved the bullets and rushed to Rob's aid. In those final minutes they were there at his side: American Soldiers, there for each other. The relentless fire forced them back, but they refused to leave their fallen comrade. When reinforcements arrived, these Americans went in again, risking their lives; taking more casualties; determined to bring Rob Miller out of that valley. And finally, after fighting that rage for hours, they did. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. Such is the ethos of our American Soldier, and such was the ethos of Staff Sgt. Rob Miller and his team.
As a nation, we owe the family of Rob Miller a debt of gratitude for the sacrifice that Rob made and for the sacrifices that they continue to make every day so that others might enjoy the freedoms that he held so dear. Rob Miller will be forever remembered. His story, his life, his legacy of courage, valor and sacrifice is preserved in our hearts, etched on the walls of this building, and woven into the fabric of history of the United State Army and this country. Generations of Americans will be inspired to service of others from looking at Rob's story.
May God Bless Rob and keep the Miller family safe, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you.