A Johnson County man has died of wounds suffered during combat in Afghanistan.
Cale C. Miller, 23, an Olathe native, died Thursday in Maiwand, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He served in the 2nd Infantry Division.
“Lt. Gov. Colyer and I are profoundly saddened to hear of the loss of Private Miller,” said Gov. Sam Brownback in a statement. “He is a hero and will forever remain in the hearts of the Kansans and the Americans for whom he gave his life serving.”
Brownback will issue an order to lower flags in Kansas to half-staff on the day of Private Miller’s funeral. Those arrangements are pending.
This is the second Johnson County casualty in Afghanistan in the past week. Sgt. Mike Knapp, 28, of Overland Park, was killed May 18.
Miller was a 2007 graduate of Olathe Northwest High School and attended classes at the University of Kansas and Baker University.
Miller’s brother-in-law, Frank Barden, said Miller spent his whole life in Olathe. His parents just recently moved to Overland Park.
Speaking to reporters in front of Olathe Northwest High School on Saturday night, Barden said the family is coping with great sadness but is extremely proud of Miller’s service and sacrifice for his country.
Barden, who is married to Miller’s older sister Courtney, said Miller loved music, Ford Mustangs and pug dogs, and excelled at everything he did. He played football at Olathe Northwest and played trumpet in the band.
But he didn’t know what to do after high school and explored auto mechanics, sound mixing and other passions.
Then he surprised his family by telling them he planned to join the Army.
“He wanted to do something bigger than himself,” Barden said. “He wanted to feel good about what he was doing.”
Miller joined the Army about a year ago and loved it, especially the camaraderie with his squadmates. He deployed to Afghanistan about six weeks ago and was a driver of a Stryker armored combat vehicle.
Barden said the family understood that he was trapped under the burning vehicle and told his squadmates to save themselves rather than worry about rescuing him.
Barden said the loss is especially poignant right before Memorial Day.
“The world lost a great spirit Thursday,” Barden said, adding that the family asks for continued prayers for Miller’s squadmates who are still serving.
In a statement, his family said Miller’s “final act on this earth was selfless, and his sacrifice prevented the deaths of several of his battle buddies.”
His mother, Deborah Collins, said: “Although we are devastated by our loss, we find comfort knowing that Cale died doing exactly what he wanted to do. His sacrifice shall not be in vain, and we rest assured knowing that some good will come from his untimely death. We love him to the moon and back.”