VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — “Serve my country!” stated Pvt. E. Tim Miller when asked by a senior officer in 1988 why he enlisted in the Army National Guard.
Although such a phrase sounds cliché today, 30 years later, now-Command Sgt. Maj. E. Tim Miller emphasized how Soldiers need to examine why they serve, and ultimately, it should be to simply, “serve our country.”
Although Miller acknowledged that serving to receive college money, attend schools, or to gain experience are acceptable reasons as well, he encourages Soldiers to examine one’s intentions. Miller reflected on selfless service, one of the Army’s seven values, identifying that ultimately to serve is a sacrifice- a sacrifice of one’s own well being for the benefit of the nation. He also strongly encourages every Soldier to remain serving as a career in the Virginia National Guard.
“It is worthy and prideful serving our nation and our commonwealth with the Virginia National Guard,” Miller said. “With this said, retention, retention, retention… it is extremely important.”
Miller, former command sergeant major of the 329th Regional Support Group, marked the end of a 30-year military career with his retirement ceremony Nov. 10, 2018, at the Virginia National Guard’s Gate City-based 1030th Transportation Battalion armory. Surrounded by close friends, family, and citizen Soldiers who he served with throughout the years, Miller ended three decades as a traditional Soldier and transitioned to an alumnus of the Virginia National Guard.
From Jan. 1, 2016 until his retirement on Dec. 7, 2018, Miller was assigned as the command sergeant major of the 329th RSG, where he oversaw nearly 2,000 Soldiers. In his tenure as the command sergeant major, he served alongside Col. K. Weedon Gallagher and Col. Doyle Gillis, Jr.
“Command Sgt. Major Miller is the quintessential non-commissioned officer,” said now-Brig. Gen. Weedon Gallagher. “Miller possesses deep concern for the welfare of his Soldiers and emulates the personal courage it takes to provide candid advice in the decision process. He and his wife, Karen, earned their retirement from the guard and are missed in the formation.”
Alongside Miller’s National Guard career, he also served as a member of the Virginia State Police. His tenure as a member of the VSP spanned more than 20 years where he served in a variety of capacities that includes providing policing services to the Caroline and Henrico counties as well as the City of Richmond.
In Miller’s final assignment with the VSP, he served as a motor officer with the VSP Richmond Motorcycle Squad. Here, he found a love for motorcycle riding on the open road, especially through the Tennessee mountains with Karen.
On Dec. 8, 1988, at 30 years of age, Miller enlisted in the Virginia National Guard. Miller recalled the full name of the recruiter who facilitated his entrance into the National Guard with a military occupational specialty as a motor transport operator. From then on, he served in most every leadership position during his career. When asked about his first leadership experience, he shared an exceptional story.
The first time that Miller was entrusted as a leader, responsible for personnel and equipment, was during the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to 1991. With only two years of military experience and holding the rank of specialist, he was asked to complete a three-day mission transporting $12 million worth of Patriot missiles. He was responsible for six trucks and approximately 12 personnel.
Despite feeling nervous and inexperienced, Miller accomplished the mission, successfully delivering the missiles to the ammunition supply point and did so without injuries or accidents in a combat zone. Miller quickly proved his ability to not only lead, but to lead well and to accomplish any mission asked of him. In years to follow, Miller served as a team leader, squad leader, platoon sergeant, first sergeant and battalion command sergeant major.
Miller deployed again during Operation Iraqi Freedom III in 2004 to 2005. During this deployment, Miller served as a platoon sergeant of 52 Soldiers who were initially responsible for running trailer transfer points at Logistical Support Area Anaconda located in Balad, Iraq.
Soon thereafter, the platoon was directed to run combat logistical patrols throughout central Iraq. CLPs are when heavily armed military vehicle escort a line of trucks that move supplies from point A to point B. Often a target for improvised explosive devices and complex attacks, the CLPs were armed as well and treated as a combat mission.
Miller, wanting to experience everything that his Soldiers experienced in the combat zone, served as the driver, the gunner, the truck commander, the assistant convoy commander and as the convoy commander. Doing so allowed him better visibility of what his Soldiers experienced on the mission and allowed him to gain knowledge about the territory in which they were operating.
It was during this deployment that Miller applied and was selected as the first sergeant of the 1032nd Transportation Company. Soon thereafter, then-Capt. Mike Waterman, pinned Sgt. 1st Class Miller to the rank of master sergeant.
Miller soberly reflected on the company’s involvement in two separate battles; one in the village of Ad Duluiyah and the other just beyond Forward Operating Base, near Ashraf. Due to the Iraqi insurgency’s stronghold in the city of Fallujah, conflict ensued, and the unit suffered multiple casualties.
Miller also recalled heroic actions of his Soldiers, some whom received the bronze star medals and Army Commendation Medals with the “valor” device. Oct. 26, 2005, is a date that Miller and his Soldiers will never forget, as they lost one of their own, Sgt. James Witkowski, who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Witkowski, a U. S. Army Reserve Soldier from Surprise, Arizona, was attached to the Rocky Mount-based 1173rd Transportation Company. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the third highest award for courage under fire. He was the second U.S. Army Reserve Soldier to be awarded the Silver Star in the Iraqi theater.
Leadership in the Virginia National Guard identified Miller’s potential for higher leadership roles and selected him for areas of greater responsibility where he was selected as the command sergeant major for the 1030th Transportation Battalion, ultimately serving alongside then-Lt. Col. Doyle Gillis.
“I have had the pleasure of having Command Sgt. Maj. Miller on my command team at both the battalion and brigade level,” said Gillis. “Over the years I have come to know professionally and personally, and I can honestly say that I have never met a more devoted leader.”
When asked how he would spend his retirement life, Miller stated, “…On a motorcycle, enjoying the mountains of Tennessee and Virginia. In fact, Karen and I have a trip planned to explore the Shenandoah Valley, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, this spring.”
Miller served not only his country, but the commonwealth of Virginia and he did so in two separate uniforms- that of the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia State Police. Thirty year old Pvt. Miller set out to “serve his country” and, over 30 years, that’s exactly what Command Sgt. Maj. Miller accomplished.