LITTLETON, CO, USA U.S. Navy PO2, CG II MEF, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC AFGHANISTAN 09/25/2007
Luke Milam was not only big and strong but saw himself as the man his Marine Corps brothers could turn to in combat if they were hurt. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Navy petty officer from Littleton CO, was a hospital corpsman trained to care for Marines engaged in special-combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, Milam, 26, was on patrol with coalition forces in Afghanistan when they apparently were hit by a rocket attack near the town of Musa Qula. Musa Qula lies in an opium-poppy growing area of Afghanistan where the Taliban has engaged in prolonged and fierce battles with British and U.S. troops this summer.
Milam, highly decorated in three earlier tours in Iraq, was killed in what Keith Milam, his oldest brother, said appeared to be an ambush. But Keith Milam of Nashville said his brother — a 1999 Columbine High School graduate — was doing what he wanted to do.
“Luke loved his job. He was living a dream,” Keith Milam said today. “He felt it was his calling to help the guys around him.”
“If there were guys in harm’s way, he needed to be there to take care of them,” he added.
At the time of his death, Milam was assigned to the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion. Keith Milam said his brother was a “real outdoorsy guy” whose life revolved around backpacking, mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, scuba diving and skydiving.
“He loved anything outdoors. He liked to keep in shape,” said his sister, Jaeme Milam of Denver.
Jaeme Milam said her kid brother — the youngest of her three brothers — was following in the military footsteps of brother Keith and grandfather Charles. He was planning to make the military his career, she said.
“He loved what he did. He loved his guys and would have done anything for them,” she said.
Luke was awarded the Purple Heart from a wound suffered in Iraq; the Bronze Star; two Combat Action ribbons; two Good Conduct Medals; two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; the National Defense Service Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; and two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons. Keith Milam said that the outpouring of sympathy has been overwhelming.
“He was highly regarded by the Navy and was even regarded more by the Marine Corps,” Keith Milam said. “We have heard from members of his unit. We understand that his commanding general and officer plan to attend the funeral at Fort Logan.”
In addition to his brother and sister, he is survived by his parents, Michael and Rita Milam of Seattle, and his brother Andrew of Denver.