Miller and Sons Go to War

 

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Written by Spc. Kelly K. Collett

Published June 23, 2005

   

Photo provided by Lt. Col. Richard Miller

Front Row:  1st Lt. Collin Wallace, 2nd Lt. Brian Luth, 1st Lt.  Warren Matlock, Lt. Col. Richard Miller, 2nd Lt. Clayton Anderson, 2nd Lt.  Broc Tatum, 1st Lt. Phillip Ogden,

 

Back Row:  2nd Lt. Mark Henrie, 1st Lt. Chris Smith, 1st Lt. Dustin Ray, 1st Lt. Travis Bringhurst, 2nd Lt. Tyler Young, 2nd Lt. Dustin Jensen.

 

FORT IRWIN, Calif.— Lt. Col. Richard Miller, commander of 2nd Battalion, 222nd Field Artillery, Utah National Guard, will soon be leading his unit in combat in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

 

In peacetime, batteries of the 2-222nd are scattered among the cities of Richfield, Beaver, Cedar City and St. George, Utah. Now mobilized, they have completed their training at Camp Shelby, Miss., and Fort Irwin, Calif. After a few days home on leave in Utah they are now back at Camp Shelby making final preparations to ship out to Iraq later this month.

 

Miller, a former Reserve Office Training Corps (ROTC) professor at Southern Utah University (SUU) in Cedar City, is taking along a little help in the form of 12 lieutenants who studied under him as cadets in the SUU ROTC program.

 

Calling themselves—among other things not fit to print—Miller & Sons, Spawns of Miller, Miller’s Offspring, and Miller’s Cadets, these lieutenants recently assigned to the 2-222nd have formed with their commander a tight-knit group of leaders who know what to expect from each other and how to handle any task that may come their way. 

 

As for Miller, he is no stranger to the 2-222nd.  He enlisted as a 13F (Forward Observer) with the Triple Deuce in 1981. After achieving the rank of specialist he went to Officer Candidate School (OCS), received his commission and fulfilled multiple other positions in the battalion. He did everything to include serving as the Fire Direction Officer for Bravo Battery, battalion executive officer, and Service Battery commander.

 

Miller then spent four years as an associate professor of military science at SUU. But when he started that assignment he didn’t just step into an existing program; he and a few others had to start from scratch.

Miller concentrates on the guidance he is receiving for the 222nd's training missions while at the National Training Center in Ft. Irwin, CA.

Photo by Spc. Kelly K. Collett

Miller concentrates on guidance he is receiving

for the 222nd's training missions while at the National Training Center in Ft. Irwin, Calif.

 

Recognizing a need for getting additional officers commissioned for service in the Utah National Guard, Miller, along with Sgt. Maj. Joseph Spencer and Sgt. 1st Class Paul Fallon, went to the SUU administration to propose the launching of a new ROTC program with an all-National Guard cadre.

 

“The three of us went to SUU and met with the faculty and put together the charter with the Utah Guard and the partnership with the school,” Miller said. “We were the first [all-National Guard] program to start in Utah. In fact, I think we were the first or second program in the nation to do this.”

 

Miller had 32 cadets the first year, and since then the number of Soldiers in the program has remained between 35 and 45.

 

Their university days now a distant memory, Miller’s lieutenants are adjusting to the realities of preparing for combat. When asked about what it is like to serve with Miller and his fellow ROTC graduates in an actual wartime situation, 2nd Lt. Warren Matlock is optimistic.

 

“I’m pretty excited about it.  It makes for a tighter cohesive unit because Lt. Col. Miller knows us,” Matlock said. “He knows our strengths and weaknesses.  It helps to build a stronger leadership core to help lead the battalion.”

 

1st Lt. Phillip K. Ogden was equally generous in his praise of Lt. Col. Miller as a mentor and commander.

 

“I don’t think I would have any other person as my commander for this deployment.  It’s been interesting to see his command philosophy and to see what he’s taught us and actually see it be put into play,” Ogden said.

 

“He’s been giving us a great example here and leading the way for us. I can see that he is just continuing what he taught us in doing what he is doing now,” he added.

 

One of Miller’s more seasoned cadets, six-year Guard veteran 1st Lt. Christopher L. Smith knows that his leader will hold his officers to a high standard.

 

(L to R) 1st Lt. Chris Smith sets on a cot next to 2nd Lt. Clayton Anderson who was resting before heading out on his next mission while training in Ft. Irwin, CA.  Both were ROTC cadets that trained under Miller at the same time at SUU.

Photo by Spc. Kelly K. Collett

1st Lt. Chris Smith, left, and 2nd Lt. Clayton Anderson rest

 before heading out on their next mission at  Ft. Irwin, Calif.

 Both were ROTC cadets that trained under Miller at SUU.

“Lt. Col. Miller is a good guy and a really good commander.  He’s been challenging and he pushes you to do the best you can. You have to give him 110 percent,” Smith said.

 

Miller reciprocates the respect given him by his lieutenants and is pleased with how much they have grown professionally.

 

“These twelve lieutenants we’ve got in the battalion have done really well.  They did well as cadets too,” Miller said. “They are able to take those skills and those things they learned and now apply them to the battalion.  It’s very comforting to know that what we did as [an ROTC] staff paid off.”

 

For these lieutenants, their ROTC instruction has long been complete, but now they are the ones offering leadership instruction to their Soldiers in the Triple Deuce.

 

When I caught up to the 2-222nd at Fort Irwin recently they were completing some desert-environment training in ‘The Box’ before heading over to the Middle East. The Box is a smaller version of the ‘Sand Box,’ which is how Soldiers refer to Iraq and Kuwait.

 

The conditions in the Box at Fort Irwin were designed to be very similar to those which Soldiers will face very soon. They had the heat to deal with and also the dust and sand that is everywhere and gets into everything.

 

Living in large 100-man tents, members of the Triple Deuce showed extreme tan lines on their faces from wearing Kevlar helmets and sunglasses out in the desert sun.

Soldiers from the 222nd wait before dusk to receive orders to fulfill their night missions of patrolling their mock Iraqi village.  They were trained on what they would encounter while deployed to Iraq.  Ft. Irwin, CA. was an excellent training facility to prepare them for the dust and heat that they would experience on a daily basis.

Photo by Spc. Kelly K. Collett

Soldiers from the 222nd wait before dusk to receive orders to

fulfill their night missions of patrolling their mock Iraqi village.

They were trained on what they would encounter while deployed

 to Iraq.  Ft. Irwin, Calif. was an excellent training facility to prepare

 them for the dust and heat they will experience on a daily basis.

 

The evenings cooled down enough for Soldiers to try and recuperate from their missions during the day.  They rested on their cots with the sides of the tents pulled up to allow air to flow through.  Others continued on with night missions and then tried to rest in the heat of the day.

 

As a visitor to the FOB (Forward Operating Base) leaders of the Triple Deuce scrounged up an extra cot for me to sleep on.

 

My plan had been to return to my off-post quarters, but transportation restrictions prevented me from doing so. I had no gear with me, so I wrapped up on my cot as best I could and drifted off to sleep.

 

As the night progressed, the outside temperature dropped dozens of degrees. I actually started shivering and pulled my blouse top over me to get warm.

 

I awoke later in the night and realized that someone had covered me with their sleeping bag. It wasn’t until the next morning that I found out who my benefactor was. When I questioned the Soldiers around me I was informed that Lt. Col. Miller himself had personally tucked me in so that I could sleep.

 

Needless to say, I am in complete agreement with Miller’s lieutenants on what kind of leader he is. I was deeply impressed with this man.  He struck me as an individual who would take care of his Soldiers, and I’m confident that he will do exactly that for the next year and bring them home safe.

 

Photo by Spc. Kelly K. Collett

Lt. Col. Miller, left, with his brother

who is a sergeant first class in the 222nd.