A personal photo of Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller. Miller was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on Oct. 6 for his heroism and valor while serving in Afghanistan in January of 2008. To learn more, visit: www.army.mil/medalofhonor/miller/
On Jan. 25, 2008, Miller's small Special Forces A-Team was moving through the Gowardesh Valley in search of enemy fighters.
About 15 insurgents, fighting from a small compound across the valley, opened fire on Miller and his team. Miller, who grew up in Wheaton, Ill., outside Chicago, fired back. A few minutes later, U.S. attack aircraft swooped in to finish the fight.
The young Green Beret, who had picked up the local language from the Afghan soldiers on their base, was ordered to accompany a platoon of 15 Afghans to find out whether any of the enemy fighters had survived the aerial assault.
He and the Afghans moved through the snow in the pre-dawn hours. The only sounds were the crackle of Miller's radio and the crunching of boots.
As Miller and the Afghan troops moved toward the enemy compound, about 100 fighters in the mountains above him unleashed gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades that one of Miller's fellow soldiers described as "astounding."
The rest of the U.S. troops from Miller's team were trapped in a choke point beneath him, dangerously exposed to the insurgent barrage.
Miller radioed to his fellow troops to seek cover. He then charged the enemy, killing at least 10 insurgents and giving the Afghan and U.S. troops a chance to move to a safer spot, according to U.S. Army reports.
Eventually Miller was wounded by insurgents who homed in on the muzzle flash from his gun.
Despite his wounds, the soldier continued to crawl uphill through the snow, firing on insurgents and radioing the location of enemy positions below. Because the area where he was fighting is so remote, it can take as long as an hour for attack helicopters to reach troops pinned down in gunfights.
After about 25 minutes, his radio fell silent. Miller's fellow soldiers then braved enemy fire to recover his body.