This Is Why We Stand: Franklin D. Miller
On January 5, 1970, Franklin D. Miller proved why he was called “an icon to what service in the armed forces is about.” Serving as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army with the 5th Special Forces Group during the Vietnam War, Miller led a seven-man patrol deep into enemy-controlled territory in Laos. From the moment that one of his team members tripped a booby trap, wounding four men and alerting the enemy, S/Sgt. Miller was engaged in the fight of his life.
Every man in Miller’s patrol was wounded in the ensuing firefight, including the staff sergeant himself as he was hit in the chest. “I felt like I was being drowned,” Miller later recalled, but there was no quit in him.
S/Sgt. Miller originally directed his men to a more secure position. He estimated that a platoon size force was approaching and remained alone to meet the attack. Miller singlehandedly repulsed two enemy assaults before rejoining his team and arranging for evacuation. In the heavy jungle, the only suitable place for extraction was a bomb crater 150 meters from the team’s location. The staff sergeant surveyed the area to the crater and led his men to the evacuation site. When the rescue helicopter arrived, it was driven away by intense enemy fire. Hostile fighters tried to swarm in and overrun the small patrol, but Miller led a defense that forced them back.
Franklin Douglas Miller. (Photo: themedalofhonor.com)
With everyone injured, S/Sgt. Miller once again moved forward to singlehandedly take on the enemy. He managed to repel two more attacks before a friendly relief force moved in. Four of the seven patrol members were killed in the intense fight. Miller was evacuated from the battered jungle along with the two other survivors. His bravery didn't go unrecognized. On June 15, 1971, Miller was presented the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor by President Richard M. Nixon at the White House.
Later in life, Miller occasionally visited Fort Bragg in North Carolina and spoke to Special Forces trainees. His credo was, “Share your fears with yourself and your courage with others. You will inspire people to do things that are incredible.” On January 5, 1970, Miller certainly lived out those words.