|After two tours in Iraq Miller and his |
K9 Stitch now patrol the streets of Rittman.
Rittman Police officer Dave Miller probably does not fit the image that comes to mind when you hear the phrase “military veteran” but at the age of 37 he has served in the Marines and the Army and has done two tours of duty in Iraq. I think you will agree he has done more than his share to serve our country.
Fresh out of high school Miller served joined the Marines.
“It was something I wanted to do to serve my Country so I joined up” Miller said that his time in the Marines was relatively uneventful as our country was not involved in any major conflicts during that time.
Upon completing his military service Miller pursued a career in law enforcement.... Until Sept 11 2001.
“Like most people, I can remember exactly what I was doing that day when I heard the news of the attacks. I knew right then where this country was going to be and I knew I wanted to be a part of it” Miller said.
Miller did his homework and discovered that his best chance of being on the soil of Iraq was to join the
Army reserves. “I could have joined the Marine reserves but at that time it was unknown if I would get to go to Iraq. I did not want to join and find myself assigned to a base in the states. I wanted to go”
Three months after joining the Army reserves Miller got his wish.
“ The day came to leave and it was not until I was standing at the bottom of the stairs of the plane that it sunk in…this is real” Miller told me.
Miller climbed the steps of the plane and 22 hours later found himself in Kuwait. Just days later, he and his unit crossed the boarder into Iraq.
Miller said that his duty was to man a .50 caliber machine gun that was mounted on a high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle . He was assigned to escort military convoys.
Miller said that these escorts sometimes took two weeks and thousands of miles to complete. They were trips to the other side of a country, not to the other side of town.
Miller said that when you cover that kind of distance the danger is real. “The biggest threat to the convoy was IEDs and roadside bombs. You just never knew when something like that was going to turn up it this is for real” he said.
Miller preferred not to speak of any combat related stories but one thing that brought a smile to his face was snow. “When you think of Iraq most people think of sand and heat. I actually was in areas where I saw kids sled riding. It was cold!” Miller said.
He also said it was common to sleep on the hoods of the transport vehicles so the heat of the engine would keep the soldiers warm.
After serving in Iraq for 15 months Miller came home and continued in law enforcement.
Four years later he went back to Iraq.
“I stayed in the reserves and it was our units turn to go back. This time things were much better and much safer. It was impressive to see what had been accomplished. You are not going to see the good things in the news. Violence equals money for the news people. You are not going to see a story about Iraqi children arriving at their new school on the news. But if someone gets killed by a bomb that will be there.” Miller told me.
“It was a good feeling to go back and see what had been done”
Miler said that he feels that Sept 11th has changed the way Americans view those who serve in the military. He provided the following example. “When we returned to the USA we did so at the Atlanta airport. Our arrival at the airport was broadcast on the PA. As we entered the airport everyone stood up and clapped as a show of respect. What a sharp contrast to the vets who returned from Nam who were spit on”
Miller said that he is active in the American legion and sees it was a way to maintain the tradition of American values. Of course he also remains active in the Army Reserves.
The best thing about being a Rittman police officer? Miller responded to the question... “I feel it is special to have the National Veterans Cemetery here in Rittman and part of my job is to protect it. Not many police officers can say that”