Your Info
You Are Not Logged In.
Member Login
Former gymnast receives highest military honor
posted on 10/07/2010

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 7, 2010 - President Obama posthumously awarded Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, an Army Special Forces officer who was a former high school gymnast, the Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts that saved 20 U.S. and Afghan soldiers. The Medal of Honor, the military's highest award, was presented to Miller's parents in a special ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Oct. 6. As part of his tribute during the ceremony, Obama said, "Rob was born to lead. The high school gymnast who trained so hard his coach had to kick him out at night so they could close the gym. He was the Army recruit who pushed himself to his limits, both physically and mentally, to earn the title Green Beret. He was the Special Forces soldier who, on his first tour in Afghanistan, earned two Army Commendation Medals for his valor."

Those in attendance yesterday included Phil and Maureen Miller, his parents, and their seven children; Vice President Joe Biden; First Lady Michelle Obama; Army Chief of Staff General George Casey Jr.; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Army Secretary John McHugh; Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Navy Admiral Eric Olsen, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

Miller was captain of the gymnastics squad at Wheaton (Ill.) North High School and went on to school at the University of Iowa. He enlisted as a Special Forces candidate and became a Green Beret in 2005. He was a weapons sergeant in Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), which was based at Ft. Bragg, N.C. He was deployed to Afghanistan in August 2006 and again in October 2007. He is just the third recipient of this award for actions in Afghanistan.

Miller, 24, died from wounds suffered in a battle with insurgents on Jan. 25, 2008. According to Army and media reports, Miller led a platoon of U.S. and Afghan troops on a night reconnaissance patrol on Jan. 24 in the Kunar province of Afghanistan. The platoon was ambushed as they searched for survivors following a firefight, and Miller was mortally injured while providing cover for his men to retreat to safety. He continued firing despite being shot himself.

The Medal of Honor, first given in 1863, is awarded to a member of the Armed Forces who distinguishes him/herself conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while: engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The meritorious conduct must involve great person bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

-- Articles in the Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times and Orlando Sentinel were used as informational sources for this piece.