From the Poconos to Afghanistan: One Local Hero's Story
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July can't come quickly enough for the Postrion family.
Currently serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Bryan Miller is due home July 1. Miller, who joined the Air Force straight out of high school, has already completed three overseas tours: Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, and now a return trip to Afghanistan.
The Blue Star Flag on Sam Postrion's lapel is a silent testament to her son's service. It's a pin that will remain in place until his safe return.
"It's an honor to know that he is serving our country and protecting people he does not know. But it's heartbreaking having him away and having him away for such long periods," Sam said.
A member of the Military Police, SSgt. Miller was deployed in January. "I am assisting Coalition Forces and NATO with giving over the primary role for Security Forces to the Afghanis," he said via email. Stateside, he's a member of law enforcement at Dover Airforce Base.
He sees a lot of positive things being accomplished in Kandahar. "The U.S. has been in Afghanistan since October 2001. The NATO program that I assist with directly impacts the growth of the Afghanistan Government. Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen the Afghani Military operate as it's own military force and limit Taliban influence around the area."
He's proud of his fellow patriots, their mission dedication, and unequaled brotherhood. "The best thing about my comrades is knowing without any hesitation they will have my back with any issue big or small," he said.
Family and friends also have his back here at home.
"I want him to know that I am behind him 100 percent with whatever he does in life, and I will always be there for him. Most important is that I want him to know how proud I am to be his mom," Sam said.
Asked if it's difficult to leave one's family behind, Miller said. "I get asked this question often; leaving your family for 8 months at a time is the hardest thing you’re faced with. Every second of the day, you think about your loved ones and when is the next time you will see them. Getting rocket attacked or engaged with small arms fire, you are prepared and trained for that problem. Being away from home, there is no briefing or field manual to help you overcome that sacrifice. I measure the 'is it worth it' by the sense of pride I get when I do my job and the people standing behind me."
Touching base with those back home helps ease the miles in between. "I try to Skype call every day, the time difference (8.5 hours) makes it hard, but technology is great! Facebook and Skype keep me in touch. Just the smallest conversation makes the hardest day easier."
"He always asks what's going on with us and around town, always checks to see how his Grandma is," said his mom. "We never end a conversation without me saying, 'I love you and miss you.'"
As to what he misses the most back home, Miller shared, "I miss my soon to be wife, going on a motorcycle ride with her, and my English bulldog Bailey."
SSgt. Miller is due to be wed to his soulmate, Felicia Shannon, September 6, 2013, just two months after his return.
Is he proud of this woman by his side? "I am most certainly proud of her. She is working a full-time job, she is a full-time student (going for her dental hygiene degree), and also planning a wedding. The thing I love the most about her is her smile, and she never ceases to amaze me."
English writer G.K. Chesterton once wrote: "The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him."
Asked his take on that poem, Miller replied, "I most certainly agree with this poem. I have no hatred towards the enemy. I’m in Afghanistan now to protect the rights of my family and friends. It doesn’t matter if you live in Idaho or in the Helmand Providence of Southern Afghanistan. Our enemy believes in a cause and so do we. They are just willing to kill innocent people for that cause."
Asked if he believes in what he is doing, Miller replied, "This is a hard question for active duty military members to answer. Everyone has their own beliefs about what they are doing over here. Most of us keep those beliefs to ourselves, reason being is we don’t want to undermine our leaders appointed over us or our Government."
It's an answer that may well be laced with the loss of friends. "I live in a 10 x 15 room with a roommate. My day starts about 6:00 AM every morning with a little organized physical fitness. I report into work by 7:30 AM. I work Monday through Thursday (to include Saturdays) 7:30 to 6:00pm. Friday and Sunday are my half days; I have a report time of 12:00 to 6:00 PM. The unbearable moments are so sporadic that they sneak up on you. For example, every day I walk by the base headquarters building and see the flag pole. Most of my unbearable moments come when I look up to that flag and see it is half mast (fallen comrade(s)). Keeping my military bearing, I render a salute and keep pressing towards my work compound."
What does he want people back home to know? SSgt Miller replied, "Support the troops. Without Americans supporting the Armed Forces our mission is irrelevant."
Note: Sam Postrion works at the Front Desk and Reservation Department at Woodloch Pines Resort.