Fort Drum community bids farewell to senior leader
January 19, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers, Family Members and civilians bade farewell to a senior leader who served Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division (LI) for the past 16 months.
Brig. Gen. Harry E. Miller Jr., senior adviser to the commanding general, was honored Tuesday at Magrath Sports Complex during a Mountain Farewell ceremony. Miller is currently waiting to receive his next assignment.
"We're here to celebrate what he's done for this division and this community over the last 16 months while the division was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He's had a tremendously rewarding tour here," said Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander. "I've only known Harry for a little bit less than three months, but I can see the impact he's made on Fort Drum."
Miller played a critical role in the transition of command between then Maj. Gen. James L. Terry and Milley, he added.
"There's always a period of turbulence when you change command whether it's at the company level or much more senior level, and it's no different at division," Milley said. "Harry has handled that transition with grace and skill, and he's made my arrival much easier. Harry, I appreciate that on a personal note."
Terry told Milley that during the deployment, he never worried about what was going on at Fort Drum because Miller had it under control.
"There was never a question in his mind of trust or judgment," Milley explained. "Many folks in this crowd know all too well that one of the hardest things about a deployment is not what happens overseas in the box, but what happens back home on the home front."
Miller wore many hats during his service here. Not only did he serve as an adviser to Milley, but he also took on the role of three general officers during the division's deployment to Afghanistan, Milley said.
"Harry had a skeleton staff, and with barely a month on the ground, (he took) on the role of … the commanding general, the deputy commanding general for support and the deputy commanding general for operations," he said. "He was expected to train, equip and deploy four brigades, plus an aviation brigade and sustainment brigade -- and he did."
Miller also provided oversight to the U.S. Army Dental Activity and U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, and managed the 40,000 employees, Soldiers and Family Members at Fort Drum, Milley said.
"That is an incredible feat in and of itself that he was able to do that and lead the efforts to do that," he added.
While Miller likes to attribute his success to the smart people he worked with, his accomplishments are a result of his "even-keeled leadership style," Milley said.
"All positions from team leader to commanding general require Soldiers to act with humility (and) selfless service; they require you to be adaptive, demonstrate integrity and live as a disciplined example for any Soldier to follow," he explained. "Harry is and always has been a Soldier-first type of leader."
"He set the example for his subordinates to know what right looks like every day," he continued. "He embodies every attribute of the servant-leader, and these attributes, coupled with personal discipline and the drive to execute every mission with compassion and detail, increased the positive outlook from every formation in this command."
Milley thanked Miller and his wife, Melissa, for the personal sacrifices they made.
"We all appreciate the personal sacrifices you made when accepting this job, to include being a geographical bachelor for 16 consecutive months," Milley said. "You upheld our proud legacy, and on behalf of a grateful division and community, thank you for your service to the 10th Mountain Division."
"Best of luck to both of you on your future endeavors and may you continue to climb to glory," he continued. "Please keep in mind the Soldiers who are still deployed forward. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers. As always, keep in your thoughts and in your hearts the Families of the Soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice."
Miller thanked Milley and those in attendance for their support, encouragement and kind words. Miller also thanked his wife and three daughters for their love and support.
"For the better part of four years, of the last six (years), I've been away," he said. "(Melissa has) held it all together. Honey, I thank and I love you."
Miller also thanked Terry for giving him the "opportunity of a lifetime."
"I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into," he admitted. "The Soldier piece I pretty much had figured out, but I really had no idea how encompassing it was all going to be."
During the last 16 months, Miller said he learned a lot "on the fly."
"As I look back, this has truly been one of the most rewarding and satisfying assignments of my 30-plus-year career," he said.
Miller added that he was blessed to have a great team.
"I've been very blessed," he said. "None of them ever lose sight of the most important (things), and that's our Soldiers and Families."
"(To all the brigade and battalion command teams), it's been truly an honor to serve alongside you," he continued. "You continually amaze me with how much you do and how well you do it."
Miller said he remembered Terry telling him that the North Country was one of the warmest places on Earth because of the warmth of the people here.
"I can honestly say that I've made friends for the rest of my life, and I thank you for everything you do for Soldiers and Families," he said. "In closing, please keep … the men and women in harm's way who put it all on the line … in your thoughts and prayers. It's been a great experience -- one I'll treasure forever. Climb to glory!"