|From The Spokesman 12/03/04:
Spokane soldier 'loved the Army'
Harley Miller came from a family rooted in military service; leaves behind
By Jim Camden
Harley Miller was a hard-working Valley student who grew into a devoted
American proud to serve his country at war, his family, former teachers and
a friend recalled Thursday.
That service took the 21-year-old Army helicopter mechanic to Afghanistan
earlier this year. Over the weekend, it cost the young father his life, when
an airplane carrying Miller and five others crashed into the snowy mountains
of the Hindu Kush.
"He was just very proud to be an American," said Sarah Johnston, a close
friend to Harley and his wife, Sarah Miller. "He loved the Army. He was
always teased by his friends in the Army by how much he loved it."
Jeff Miller, his uncle, said Harley came from a family deeply rooted in
military service. His grandfather, father and three uncles also served in
uniform at various times, and Harley grew up with plans to join the Army.
"He believed in the military," Jeff Miller said. "He was a great kid. It's a
Based on incorrect information supplied by the Army, The Spokesman-Review
incorrectly reported Thursday that Miller's family was no longer in Spokane.
In fact, his father, Damon Miller, grandmother Joydine Miller, several
uncles, aunts and cousins live in the Spokane area, Jeff Miller said. His
mother, Christine, lives in Western Washington, and he has three sisters,
Autumn, Lynnea and Amber, who live outside the Spokane area, Joydine Miller
Harley Miller took classes from West Valley's Contract-Based Education
program and attended University High School, graduating in 2002. Teachers
who worked with him in high school and junior high remembered a serious,
"Whatever he would do, he would totally throw himself into," said Kit Latta,
who worked with Miller in his final course before he received his diploma.
"Things didn't always come easily for him, but he worked everything out. He
kind of had that 'never give up' attitude."
Kerri Barsness, who taught Miller in seventh and eighth grades, described
him as bright, articulate and resilient.
"He had an inner determination and strength," she said. "He always had his
homework done. Always."
Barsness remembered talking to Miller the day in the spring of 2002 when he
received his diploma. He was happy and told her he was going into the
military. She told him she was proud of him.
"He was just fun to be around," said Johnston, who met Miller in 2001 at an
auto glass repair shop where they both worked briefly. "He made any bad day
A good mechanic as a teenager, Miller was trained by the Army to repair its
Kiowa helicopters. He was assigned to the 4th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Light
Infantry Division, stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.
In 2003, he married Sarah, whom he had known since high school, his
grandmother Joydine said. They have a son, Korey, who is slightly less than
a year and a half old, Johnston said. After Harley shipped out to
Afghanistan with his unit this spring, Sarah and Korey returned to Spokane
to be with family.
Miller was with two other members of his unit, Lt. Col. Michael J. McMahon
of Connecticut and Chief Warrant Officer Travis W. Grogan of Virginia Beach,
Va., and three contract civilian workers on a civilian transport plane en
route to western Afghanistan where U.S. forces were searching for Taliban
and al Qaeda militants. Military sources told the Associated Press the cause
of the crash was not yet known, but it appeared the plane got into a valley
and was unable to gain altitude quickly enough to clear the mountains.
There were no indications the plane was brought down by hostile fire, the
Its debris was scattered across Baba Mountain, whose snow-covered peak rises
about 16,600 feet, an Afghan police official told the AP. The area is so
remote that military and civilian teams needed several days to reach the
site. There were no survivors.
Sarah Miller was trying to make arrangements for Harley's services Thursday
and declined a request for an interview. But through Johnston, she said she
wanted everyone to know Harley Miller was a very loving husband and father
who will always be in her heart. "He'll be greatly missed," Sarah Miller
|Harley David Ronald Miller, 21 year-old, Army Specialist, Task Force Saber D Troop 3-4 Cavalry of E. Spokane Valley, Washington went to be with his Lord and Savior November 27, 2004 while serving his country in Bamian, Afghanistan.
Harley was born May 5, 1983 to Damon and Christine Miller in Sandpoint, Idaho. He was a happy and mischievous young man who loved cars, computers, the men with whom he served and his family.
Harley is survived by his wife, Sarah; son, Korey; mother, Christine; father, Damon; sisters, Autumn, Lynnea and Amber; numerous nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Services will be held Wednesday, December 15, 2004 at Valley Point at Pines Church located at 714 S. Pines in E. Spokane Valley, Washington at 10 a.m.
There has been a benevolent fund established for Sarah and little Korey. Donations can be made at any Bank of America to the Harley David Miller Fund.
Published in The Herald (Everett) on Dec. 12, 2004
|From The Seattle Times
Soldier, 21, killed in Afghan air crash
A 21-year-old U.S. Army soldier from Spokane died Saturday in an airplane crash in Afghanistan.
Army Spc. Harley D.R. Miller, a helicopter mechanic assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division (Light), Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, was one of three soldiers who died when their aircraft crashed in Bamian, Afghanistan, according to the federal Department of Defense.
Also killed were Lt. Col. Michael J. McMahon, 41, of Connecticut and Chief Warrant Officer Travis W. Grogan, 31, of Virginia Beach, Va. No further details were immediately available. Miller's family could not be reached last night.
|(Harley is mentioned in this story below)
From The Sun-Sentinel sun-sentinal.com
A Soldier Until The End
Pompano Beach Father Mourns His Son, An Army Officer Killed In Afghan Plane Crash
December 3, 2004|By Rafael A. Olmeda Staff Writer
Dennis McMahon Jr. wasn't crying on Thursday afternoon. He had held back the tears on Saturday, when he learned that his son, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was missing in Afghanistan. But they flowed freely two days later, when his greatest fear, his son's death, was confirmed.
He cried for days.
Finally, at his beachfront Pompano Beach condo on Thursday, he convinced himself to be strong for the rest of his family.
Lt. Col. Michael McMahon, 41, was killed in a plane crash on the snow-capped mountains of Bamiyan. He was returning from a meeting at Bagram Air Force Base, ready to rejoin the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division. His troops. They were the ones he served Thanksgiving dinner to just days earlier, smiling and appreciative of their service.
His father recalled him as a consummate soldier, determined to rise in the ranks of the military from a young age. Dennis McMahon knew the feeling. He, too, joined the military at an early age, serving at the end of World War II, in Korea and in Vietnam. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1969 at the age of 41.
Along the way he and his wife had six children, two of them sons. Both boys graduated from West Point. Both are gone now. Dennis III, who was born nine years before Michael, died in a car accident in 1982.
Like many military fathers, McMahon sensed his son was bound for Afghanistan shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. The younger McMahon was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, at the time.
"Mike called and said now would probably be a good time to visit," said his stepmother, Melanie Crandall-McMahon. And they did.
But the deployment never came. Instead McMahon, a Desert Storm veteran, was assigned to lead the 3-4 Cavalry, based out of Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. He missed Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the unit was finally called into Afghanistan in April.
"He was not allowed to communicate his mission to anyone here," his father said.
He did contact the family as often as he could, through e-mails and phone calls.
In his final e-mail, which was sent Nov. 23, he wrote about literally and figuratively disarming potential enemies.
"If you can believe it, 99.5% of all Afghans have never seen juggling," he wrote. "So I am able to win the hearts of many through Yak, Du, Say (1-2-3), where three rocks make their way into the air, and somehow 200-plus former fighters decide they want to give me their weapons."
It was the kind of charm that typified the younger McMahon's early life in West Hartford, Conn., where his father lived when he retired from the Army. Unable to find work with the area's defense contractors, McMahon winded up selling candles, with considerable success. With one son already in West Point, he encouraged his younger son to be a banker, with no success.
"Mike saw that his father was an Army pilot and all his friends were Army pilots," said Crandall-McMahon. "Whenever they got together and talked, they looked like they were having so much fun, and Mike decided that's what he wanted."
In another e-mail, McMahon wrote about preparations for the Afghanistan elections, and sent home pictures of women standing in line waiting to vote.
The McMahons visited family members in South Florida frequently, ultimately resulting in Dennis McMahon's decision to move to Pompano Beach in the mid-1980s. When they last discussed the issue, McMahon's son told him he was considering getting transferred to Tampa so that they could be closer.
The plane crash ended that dream. From what little the family has been told, they are convinced Michael McMahon did not suffer. He was probably sleeping when the plane crashed on Baba Mountain, which rises 16,600 feet, the elder McMahon said. Two other soldiers in McMahon's unit also died, as did the pilot and two other crew members. The soldiers were Chief Warrant Officer Travis W. Grogan, 31, of Virginia Beach, Va. and Spc. Harley D. R. Miller, 21, of Spokane, Wash.
In addition to his four sisters, Michael McMahon is survived by his wife, Jeanette, a fellow West Point graduate and Army lieutenant colonel who lives in Hawaii. They had three children.
The sisters, Lezle, Nora, Kelly, and Stacie, greeted his coffin at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Thursday.
In some ways, Dennis McMahon considers himself lucky -- most families of killed soldiers are unable to get information as quickly as they have.
"I've been trying to give moral support as far as family and friends are concerned since the first notification that they were missing," he said. "I think back to the time I lost my first son, and how people gave me moral support."
He went on a religious retreat and listened to a speaker, who said, "I don't care if you're 17, or 37, or 57 or 77. You've got to live today."
Recalling that moment was the closest McMahon came to crying Thursday afternoon.
Michael McMahon's funeral has not been scheduled, but he will be buried at West Point, not far from his brother.