By Jennifer Griffin & Justin Fishel
President Obama on Wednesday will bestow the nation’s highest military honor for valor on a soldier who died after saving the lives of 22 men in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt Robert Miller was the youngest member of his squad. The 24 year-old Green Beret was on his second tour to Afghanistan when his unit was ambushed while moving through Kunar Province near the Pakistan border on January 25, 2008.
On a mission to find high-value enemy insurgents, Miller’s team of eight elite American soldiers and 15 Afghan troops were moving along a rocky, snow covered trail when the first shots rang out. Miller's captain was injured almost immediately.
As the squad took cover Robert realized they were badly outnumbered from above. Rather than retreat to safer ground he ran directly at the enemy, killing numerous militants and providing his men with the cover they needed to escape.
His parents were told he saved the lives of 22 men, seven of them fellow members of the US Army Special Forces.
"As they got near the structure there was ambush, they were attacked by over 100 insurgents — they had hidden behind boulders, it was a very intense situation," his mother Maureen Miller said in an interview with Fox News.
His father Phil Miller was proud of what his son had done.
"He essentially stayed in the kill zone to keep control of the situation and allowed everybody else to get out of the kill zone and basically gave them a chance to reorganize and regroup," he said.
As a boy, Miller loved gymnastics. He was captain of the gymnastics team at Wheaton North High School in Illinois and helped coach at the local gym.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he joined the Army, and became a Green Beret in 2005.
A natural linguist, Robert studied Latin and German in school, learned French in Special Forces training, and later learned the local Pashtu dialect while in Afghanistan. He was said to love drinking tea with the locals.
He died holding his rifle, firing until it ran out of ammunition. He had thrown his last grenade and fought for 25 minutes after having been shot twice in the shoulder and ribs.
Sgt. Nick McGarry was one of the men he saved that day.
"I would see him go to another place, attack that area, attack another area, attack another area. I can honestly say, if he wouldn't have done that, we probably would have gotten flanked and a lot more people would have died," he said.
Members of his unit said there were so many bullets hitting the ground around him that the dust kicked up made him invisible, but he kept firing until the end.
Miller's parents and seven siblings will accept the award for Robert at the White House on Wednesday.
"I'm very proud that he's getting this honor," his mother said. "I've come to appreciate how difficult it is to be awarded this… and I know that there are so many others who are deserving of the honor. I will be thinking of those people too when we receive the award from the president."