By J.D. LeipoldOctober 8, 2010
WASHINGTON - A day after Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller's Family accepted the posthumously-awarded Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama, the noncommissioned officer was inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes, before a standing-room-only audience.
Miller, known as "Robby" to his Special Forces teammates, was killed Jan. 25, 2008 while fending off scores of Taliban fighters during a close-range ambush in the Konar Province of Afghanistan.
Though wounded, the 24-year-old continued to move forward and single-handedly killed 10 insurgents and wounded another two dozen. At the expense of his life, his actions allowed his unit and 15 Afghan soldiers to fall back from the kill zone and regroup.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. spoke at the event, and said the Hall of Heroes was a place of honor that serves to remind all of the extraordinary sacrifices ordinary Americans have made for their country and for their comrades. The general said about 3,400 individuals are named in the hall, and about 2,400 of those were Soldiers.
"Yesterday, Rob Miller became part of the history of our Army and of our country and today, he joins these heroes," Casey said. "I'm 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 lived the warrior ethos."
Secretary of the Army John McHugh echoed Casey's praise.
"He sacrificed his life to make a difference for his fellow Soldiers; he upheld the values he coveted most dearly in order to secure our nation's future, with ideals of loyalty, duty, selfless service, honor and most of all, courage," McHugh said. "To those who knew him best -- his family, his friends, teachers, mentors, fellow Green Berets -- Robert's actions probably didn't come as a surprise, it really was how he led his life day in and day out."
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates provided his own tribute to Miller.
"Even as he was winning the trust of the local people, Rob never stopped being a warrior and that is why on that night in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan -- heavily outnumbered, mortally wounded -- Rob charged ahead when he so easily could have taken cover," Gates said. "That is why he put the lives of brothers in arms -- Afghan and American -- ahead of his own, and that is why they returned home and he did not."
Gates also quoted one of Miller's favorite lines from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:
"'Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste death but once,'" Gates said. "Rob is now known to history as one of those valiant ... his name ... his story, belong to the ages."
Following the reading of the Medal of Honor citation, Gates, McHugh and Casey presented the citation with a framed photo of Miller on horseback in Afghanistan and the 13-star Medal of Honor flag to Miller's parents, Philip and Maureen.
Philip Miller ended the ceremony telling the audience that his son loved what he was doing, and that he was unapologetically patriotic.
"He was proven and very good at what he was doing, and there's no question that he was confident that he was fighting and serving for a good cause," he said. "My wife and I believe he's a great example of what America's youth can do and how well they can perform when they're given the responsibility and opportunity to do so."