A fallen soldier from Wheaton, Ill., was honored Wednesday with the country's highest military award during a ceremony at the White House.
The parents of Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller watched as President Obama posthumously awarded their son the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan on January 25, 2008. He will be the seventh service member to be honored from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
"Rob's life and legacy endures. You gave your oldest son to America, and America is forever in your debt," the president told Phil and Maureen Miller. [Time.com: President Obama's full remarks]
The 24-year-old Green Beret was on his second tour to Afghanistan when his unit was ambushed. Miller's team captain was immediately wounded during the assault, but he remained at the front of the patrol, shooting at the enemy while allowing his team to gain cover and get the commander to safety.
"The fighting was ferocious," Obama told those gathered in the East Room. "Rob seemed to disappear into clouds of dust and debris and they could hear his weapon still firing as he provided cover for his men. And then, over the radio, they heard his voice. He had been hit. But still, he kept calling out enemy positions. Still he kept firing. Still he kept throwing his grenades. And then they heard it. Rob's weapon fell silent."
As a Wheaton High School student, Miller was a star gymnast.
"He wouldn't want to leave the gym, he had to get kicked out. That was his personality. He wanted to be part of a bigger picture," said his close friend and teammate Bobby Kaye. It was the bigger picture that led him to join the Army's special forces in 2003.
Miller served as a weapons sergeant in Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, which is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.