President Barack Obama awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor Wednesday to Green Beret Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, who was killed while saving the lives of 22 men in Afghanistan.
Miller, who at 24 was the youngest member of his squad, was on his second tour to Afghanistan when his unit was ambushed while moving through Kunar Province near the Pakistan border on January 25, 2008.
"With the enemy just feet away -- some so close he could see their faces -- Rob held his ground," Obama said at a White House ceremony to mark the nation's highest military honor
On a mission to find high-value enemy insurgents, Miller’s team of eight elite American soldiers and 15 Afghan troops were moving along a rocky, snow-covered trail when the first shots rang out. Miller's captain was injured almost immediately.
As the squad took cover Miller realized they were badly outnumbered from above. Rather than retreat to safer ground he ran directly at the enemy, killing numerous militants and providing his men with the cover they needed to escape.
He died holding his rifle, firing until it ran out of ammunition. He had thrown his last grenade and fought for 25 minutes after having been shot twice in the shoulder and ribs.
"Rob was born to lead," Obama said. "He was the army recruit who pushed himself to his limits both physically and mentally."
Among the men he saved were seven fellow members of U.S. Special Forces, including Sgt. Nick McGarry.
"I would see him go to another place, attack that area, attack another area, attack another area. I can honestly say, if he wouldn't have done that, we probably would have gotten flanked and a lot more people would have died," McGarry said before the event.
Miller's parents and seven siblings accepted the award in his honor.
"You gave your oldest son to America," Obama said to Miller's parents.
"America is forever in your debt."