Army Pfc. James L. Miller
Died March 29, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
21, of Yakima, Wash.; 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died March 29 in Dashat, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.
(The following was taken from www.yakimaherald.com of Mar. 31, 2010) YAKIMA, Wash. -- The last time Kim Miller talked to her son, he was talking about coming home to Washington.
He had recently turned 21, and he had about three more months of active duty before he was set to return to his wife, Katie, and their 18-month-old daughter, Peyton.
"He was happy," his mother said. "He was excited. He was down to three months, almost time to come home. He had just Skyped his wife and saw his little girl and was talking about her talking to him, saying, 'Daddy! Daddy!'
"The last time I talked to him," she said, "was about four days before he died."
Pfc James L. Miller died in Afghanistan on Monday.
According to the public affairs office of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which released the news Wednesday, he died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device in Dashat.
Family members from Washington to Alaska and Minnesota are now mourning the young husband, father and soldier.
"We're doing the best we can," his mom said in a phone interview from Eagle Lake, Minn., where she was visiting her daughter -- James' sister -- Mandie.
Her son had "just turned 21. He was serving his country. He had three more months, and he would've been home. But that didn't happen," she said, adding, "They told him he would be back by the Fourth of July."
Miller is the 11th soldier or Marine with ties to the Yakima Valley to die in the United States' current Middle East campaigns. He is the first to die in Afghanistan.
Miller was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
He joined the unit last May after enlisting in 2008. He was in boot camp when his daughter was born.
"He decided to join the service to be able to provide for his family," his mom said.
The young soldier arrived at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, in January 2009 and his brigade deployed to Afghanistan about six months later.
His mom said he was considering re-enlisting when the deployment ended. He wanted to be stationed in Alaska.
Miller grew up in Alaska and after high school moved with friends to Yakima in 2008. He met his wife Katie, who's from Granger, while they were attending Yakima Valley Community College. He was studying mechanics.
He last saw his daughter and wife in person during a two-week leave last fall.
Miller's body arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Wednesday and is expected to return to Fort Lewis, near his wife and daughter's residence, early next week, his mother said. A burial in Zillah, near his wife's hometown, is being planned.