-- Throughout our careers as Soldiers, we understand that along with the many highs we have all enjoyed there are also moments of sadness, such as when a fellow Soldier falls on bad times. The Soldiers of the 972nd Military Police Company and the 211th Military Police Battalion recently had to deal with one of those sad moments after the passing of Sgt. Scott A. Miller.
I served as the commander of the 972nd Military Police Company in 2002-2003 during the unit’s deployment to Pakistan and Uzbekistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During that time, one of my Soldiers, Spc. Scott Miller, fell ill and was transported to Walter Reed Hospital to undergo further evaluation. I quickly learned that Scott was suffering from an operable brain tumor and I clearly remember he told me that he was going to be fine and he would return to the unit sooner rather than later. Although Scott was not able to return to finish out the mission, the manner in which he dealt with his medical issues served as a great example for the entire unit.
Scott did remain true to his word, however, and returned to the unit and deployed to Iraq in 2007 with the 972nd, then commanded by Capt. Bryan Pillai. In February 2008, I learned that Scott had once again fallen ill. Upon his arrival at Walter Reed, he joked that the hospital was becoming the venue for his welcome home ceremony. This time Scott was suffering from an aggressive form of liver and colon cancer and the prognosis was grim.
Scott eventually returned to Massachusetts where he immediately starting receiving treatment at the Dana Faber Cancer Institute in Boston. Throughout the entire ordeal, his wife Alex was his rock. She cared and provided for Scott with great compassion while she was dealing with the reality that she probably did not have much time left with her husband. Scott and Alex had only been married for one month before he deployed.
Scott was promoted to the rank of sergeant, March 19, 2008, at Dana Farber while undergoing chemotherapy. His platoon supported him and cheered for him from Baghdad via a cell phone call as the adjutant general affixed the insignia of rank to his uniform. Scott proudly read the Noncommissioned Officer’s Creed aloud in front of his wife and family, friends and comrades, and hospital staff members. Scott’s strength and determination did not go unnoticed by anyone who witnessed the ceremony.
Later in 2008, the 211th Military Police Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Richard Johnson, directed the staff to create an award that would be awarded annually at the military police ball to a Soldier from the battalion who truly lives the Warrior Ethos in all aspects of his or her life. We quickly determined that the first recipient of the award would be Scott, and the award would be named the “Sgt. Scott A. Miller Warrior Ethos Award” in his honor.
Despite Scott’s worsening condition, he made it a point to be at the military police ball in September 2008. It was truly great to see Scott spend some quality time with his fellow Soldiers from the 972nd who had recently returned from deployment. Scott accepted the Warrior Ethos Award to a standing ovation from all in attendance. It was very clear to everyone present that Scott and Alex truly cherished their time at the ball.
Through his horrible ordeal, Scott served as an example for all of us. He carried himself with the utmost humility and dignity. Scott’s “never give up and never quit” approach to battling this horrible disease must serve as an example to every Soldier in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. He truly lived the Army’s Warrior Ethos:
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
Sadly, on October 13, 2008, Scott lost his courageous battle with cancer while surrounded by his family. While I helped them prepare for Scott’s funeral, they expressed to me a deep appreciation and gratitude for Scott’s “Army Family,” the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
A dedicated member of the 972nd Military Police Company throughout his military career, Sgt. Miller was respected by not only his peers in the enlisted ranks, but also by the noncommissioned and commissioned officers who had the privilege to lead him.
"Scott was friends with everybody," noted Sgt. Matthew Jones, who completed two deployments with Miller. "Not only was he a really great guy," Jones added, "but you could always count on his amazing sense of humor to make light of a tough situation."
According to his platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Lombardi, who also served with Miller on two overseas deployments, Scott was adept at voicing the concerns of enlisted Soldiers with skill. "Scott was a leader in the company who knew how to professionally voice his gripes.”
These sentiments were echoed by the company's commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Capt. Bryan K. Pillai. "Scott and I used to sit down for lunch from time to time in our unit's dining facility overseas. We had lengthy conversations about everything from military history and company policies to Army strategy. There's no doubt in my mind that I got more out of those talks than he did. It was an honor to serve with him in combat."
I ask that as you continue to serve in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, both at home and abroad, that you take a moment to think of Sgt. Scott A. Miller as you go about your duties. He truly loved being a Soldier. He never complained and he always put his best foot forward even after being diagnosed with cancer. I have no doubt that Scott will be looking down on all of us as we continue to do our part in the Global War on Terrorism.