FLORENCE, SC, UNITED STATES
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joe Cashion
“I had joined in January 2001 but it was 9/11 that really affected me,” Miller said.
Miller, a native of Florence, and his fellow Soldiers were activated for Hurricane Florence, which struck the North Carolina coast near Wilmington as a Category 1 hurricane Sept. 14, 2018, and then came through Georgetown County as tropical storm. The Soldiers of the 133rd, based in Timmonsville, headquartered at the Georgetown Armory during Florence.
“I’ve been through so many of these,” Miller said. “Just in the last few years it was the great flood in 2015, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and of course this storm now. When we are activated like this, our job is support local law enforcement for the protection of citizens and their property.”
Miller has done multiple overseas tours with the 133rd and it was his tour with them in 2011-12 to Afghanistan that is particularly memorable. For it was on June 20, 2012, that Miller lost a close friend, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Thomas, in a suicide attack near Khowst City, Khowst Province, Afghanistan. Thomas was one of three from the 133rd who lost their lives that day.
“We grew up in the Guard together, went to basic training together,” Miller said. “He was an Eagle Scout just like me.”
In his civilian life, while most of Miller’s compatriots have civilian jobs in law enforcement or something similar, he does not. Miller has a “sweeter” occupation.
“I’m in regional sales for Nabisco,” he said. “I have stores in Florence and Darlington to Bishopville and Hartsville over to Camden and Lugoff. I cover most of the Pee Dee area. And the great part of this job is all the people I get to go around and meet.”
Ask any of Miller’s fellow Soldiers and they’ll tell you that meeting people and making connections is something that comes easy to him.
“He is the most optimistic person I have ever met,” said Sgt. Tammy Edwards, also of the 133rd. “He always has a smile on his face and a story to tell. He loves to spend time with the younger Soldiers of our unit, talking to them and mentoring them.”
When an emergency like Hurricane Florence takes place, Soldiers are activated and uprooted from their families, heading out to parts unknown. They often end up sleeping on cots in armories next to their comrades for days or weeks at a time. It’s moments like these that Miller relishes.
“I love the camaderie and the Soldiers I serve with,” Miller said. “I believe in serving my community, taking care of the people around you. We need to take care of our neighbors in times like this.”