It was a small ceremony for a very private man who had served his country in Vietnam. Family members looked on with pride last Friday, Jan. 31, as Army Sergeant Maurice Miller was awarded a Purple Heart he had earned in 1968.
The small gathering, held in the Preble County Commission Chambers, was arranged by Preble County Veteran Services Officer Terry Pendergraft, who was asked to set it up by members of Congressman John Boehner’s staff.
On Feb. 19, 1968 Sergeant Miller was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division on the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.
Miller, who doesn’t like to talk about the time, said simply, “You do what you gotta do.” He was simply doing his job.
According to an official release, around noon, several days after Sergeant Miller received this assignment, his unit was ambushed while headed to shore on their patrol boats. This enemy action resulted in the death of one American soldier and several ARVN soldiers who were working together.
Miller suffered a bullet wound to the left side of his head, which he said “took off part of his ear.”
Of the four boats on the patrol, Sergeant Miller was the lone survivor in his boat.
After managing to get ashore, Miller then proceeded to continually engage the enemy until his ammunition was depleted. He was rescued by a nearby ARVN officer operating a “sand pan” just off shore.
In addition to Sergeant Miller’s recent awarding of the Purple Heart, he received the Combat Infantry Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Expert Badge (Rifle), and the Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 Device during his service to the nation.
Miller’s family worked closely with Boehner’s Veterans’ Affairs casework division to obtain Sergeant Miller’s Purple Heart award.
“This is more attention than I got forty-some years ago,” Miller said.
“I’m very fortunate I survived, and fortunate they took the time to give it to me,” Miller said.
“This was good for our county, good for all veterans,” Pendergraft said.