Private First Class Patrick Miller
was a mechanic, a member of the US Army 507th Maintenance Company
, and became a POW
in the 2003 invasion of Iraq
. He was awarded the Silver Star
Miller was a 1998 graduate of Valley Center High School in Valley Center, a town of 5,000 people outside Wichita, Kansas
. Employed in civilian life as a welder, he joining the army in summer 2002, to help pay for his student loans. While in Texas
, he married his wife, Jessa, and had two children.
Miller's wife Jessa moved to Park City, Kansas in December 2002, to allow her and kids to live with her mother during the war. When Miller deployed to Iraq, he was said to have not been overly concerned, despite his mother's strong feelings against it. His half-brother, Thomas Hershberger, commented "He is kind of cocky - he didn't act scared at all."
His mother lives in New Mexico. At the time of capture, Miller's son was 4-years-old, and his daughter 7-months-old. He has a half-brother named Thomas Hershberger, who was 27 at the time of Miller's capture.
On March 23
, Iraqi forces ambushed the trail convoy element of the 507th Maintenance Company
that had taken a wrong turn near An Nasiriyah
. There had been bitter fighting around Nasiriyah, a vital crossing point of the River Euphrates
. Miller was driving the last truck in the convoy with Private First Class Brandon Sloan and Sergeant James Riley as passengers. During the attack, he floored the accelerator, trying to steer and duck bullets at the same time. Enemy fire killed Sloan and damaged his truck's transmission, disabling the vehicle.
Silver Star and other awards
Prior to his capture, Miller had stood his ground firing at the Iraqis with a malfunctioning weapon, feeding bullets into it by hand to protect two wounded comrades. A U.S. Army
press release said Miller jumped from his vehicle and began firing on a mortar position that he believed was about to open fire on his convoy.
Miller was held for 22 days with four other members of his unit including:
- Spc. Edgar Hernandez
- Spc. Joseph Hudson
- Spc. Shoshana Johnson
- Sgt. James Riley - 31-year-old bachelor from Pennsauken, N.J. As the senior soldier present it was he who ordered the surrender.
- Pvt. Jessica Lynch - Part of same unit but held separately in a different location
After he was captured, he was repeatedly questioned about radio frequencies that were written on pieces of paper inside his helmet. "Thinking on his feet, Pfc. Miller told his captors that they were prices for water pumps," the release said. "Disgusted, the captors threw the frequencies and his helmet into the fire."
For these actions he was awarded the Silver Star the third-highest military award for heroism in combat. Along with the Silver Star, Patrick Miller also received a Purple Heart and Prisoner of War medal on July 2, 2003, during an Independence Day celebration at Fort Bliss, Texas.
On 20 July 2005, while serving with the 183rd Maintenance Company, Fort Carson, Miller was awarded the Combat Action Badge by retired Command Sergeant Major Tyler Walker.
The U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia named its operations center and dedicated a wall in Miller's honor in January 2004. Miller attended the ceremony with his mother and his wife and their two small children.
Miller as a POW
He was one of five POWs to be interviewed on Al Jazeera
. In the interview, he was asked why he came to Iraq, his reply was "I come to fix broke stuff." Asked if he came to shoot Iraqis, he answered, "No, I come to shoot only if I am shot at. They don't bother me, I don't bother them."
Miller lost 25 pounds in three weeks as a prisoner of war, eating boiled chicken, rice and bread so hard he had to throw it against the wall to get at the soft food inside.
After returning to Fort Bliss, Texas, Millier stayed on active duty with the U.S. Army and was transferred to Fort Carson, Colorado
. He is currently a Staff Sergeant
- "It's good to know that you actually did something to save other people's lives," he says. "But for me, as far as people saying that I'm a hero, I don't feel that I'm a hero. Because I feel that I was doing my job as a soldier." Miller on CBS 60 Minutes
- "I'm not real worried about awards, The way I look at it, I did my job." Patrick Miller
- Hegeman, Roxana, "'Please Do Something for My Son' - Families Identify Soldiers Held Captive in Iraq". The Associated Press, March 24, 2003.