PHOENIX, AZ, USA U.S. Army PFC, COMPANY B, 1ST BATTALION, 158TH INFANTRY, PHOENIX, AZ FOB LAGMAN, AFGHANISTAN 09/07/2007
An Arizona National Guard soldier has been killed in combat in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Saturday.
Private First Class Mykel F. Miller of Phoenix died of wounds he suffered while his unit was engaged in combat in Zabul province on Thursday. The 19-year-old was assigned to Company B of the Arizona National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment, based in Gilbert. Miller’s family, via the National Guard, made the following statement: “Mykel was very proud to serve his country.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, loved ones and fellow soldiers of Private First Class Miller,” Major General David P. Rataczak, who commands the Arizona National Guard, said in a statement. “This young man epitomized everything good and honorable about being an American and a citizen soldier.”
While teachers or school counselors are the last people many teenage boys would confide in, Mykel F. Miller found surrogate mothers in the female staff at his school’s counseling department.
“He liked attention from us. He would come in and he would tell us about his job or something that might’ve happened with his younger brother. He just shared a lot with us,” said Beth Lyons, a counseling assistant at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix. Miller was a teacher’s assistant for guidance counselors his senior year.
Lyons said the 19-year-old had always made time to show his enthusiasm for joining the National Guard. In between homework and working at Baskin-Robbins, Miller would help organize military visits to campus and participate in weekend drills at the Arizona National Guard base.
“He would always come in Monday morning after those weekends sore and tired. … He wasn’t complaining. He liked it,” Lyons said.
Diana Brown, a career counselor, got a treat last month when Miller unexpectedly called her from Afghanistan. He discussed his daily routine and his return visit sometime in the fall.
“I had mentioned that I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of him in his uniform. He said he’d be here and as soon as he arrived, he would call and that I should have my camera,” Brown said.
An avid fan of motorcycles, Miller also could salsa dance and break dance. He also made sure to dress stylishly. Whenever he wore one of his many polo shirts, Brown said, Miller would turn the collar up. “I would always tease him … put the collar down and he was like ‘Mrs. Brown, I got my own style,’ ” Brown said.
The attention Miller paid to his counselors made him stick out among thousands of students.
“You have a lot of students that come and go. Then you have the special ones, the kind that get attached, those who need that extra push,” Brown said. “They get in our hearts and become like our own. And Mykel was one of those to me.”