Turning things around in Iraq - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Turning things around in Iraq

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Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2007 6:08 am | Updated: 6:53 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Marc Miller came home one day and told his mom he had joined the Marines. It was a wise decision for the Tempe 21-year-old who was living life without direction, said his mom, Leslie Miller.

“This was a kid who was looking for a way to get out of his lifestyle,” she said. “He did this on his own. How brave of him to do this. I’m very proud.”

After Marc Miller graduated from Tempe High School, he was hanging out with the wrong crowd, had been fired from three jobs in three months and had been in trouble with the law.

“Really, I think me myself, if I didn’t clean up my act I was going to end up in prison,” said Marc Miller via a MySpace message. “Now why did I join the Marine Corps? I was looking for the branch with the longest boot camp so it would change me the most, plus the blues just look freakin’ awesome.”

Boot camp did change him. Leslie Miller said that after the 13-week camp in San Diego in September 2005, she didn’t recognize her youngest son.

“He had gained 40 pounds of muscles, and he was a man,” she said. “He was a totally different child.”

Marc Miller was stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, and spent a year training for Iraq. He left in February. He spends his days as a heavy vehicle operator, searching the streets of Iraq for weapons bunkers and driving supplies to his fellow Marines.

“I think we should do what we are doing with the primary mission, but stop training their military and police ’cause all the people in this country we have trained are just happy that we are giving them food to eat and a place to rest their head at the end of the day,” he said.

Leslie Miller said she knows angels are on her son’s shoulders. He was shot twice over the weekend and was saved by his body armor.

Also, when Marc Miller was 7 years old, he was hit from behind by a car while riding his bike on the sidewalk near his Tempe home. He was in a coma for 18 days, fractured his hips and skull, ruptured his bladder and spleen and suffered head injuries. Doctors said he would never walk again.

He went to school in a wheelchair and spent months in therapy. After the August 1993 accident, he was able to walk by himself the following May. He had made a full recovery, his mom said.

After the crash, he began working with the Tempe Fire Department, talking to students and handing out more than a thousand bike helmets. He would bring his demolished bike and photos of his recovery to show students what he had been through.

Marc Miller became an Arizona Safety Kid when he was in the fifth grade and traveled to Washington, D.C., to tell his story to Congress.

He turned a horrifying situation into a positive, life-changing experience. He’s trying to do the same thing in Iraq.

“Everyday you just don’t know if you’re going to live or die,” Leslie Miller said. “I worry about him, but I know he’s going to be OK.”

Marc Miller is due back in October. His mom promised to take him to Las Vegas to celebrate.

Getting in touch

To send Marc Miller a letter or package, mail it to: Lcpl Miller Marc, 1st LAR Bn H&S Co. Motor T, Unit 40595, FPO AP 96426-0595.

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