Maj. Patrick W. Miller, the Allegany native who helped save other soldiers after being shot at Fort Hood, Texas, last April, will be awarded the Army’s highest noncombat honor for valor.
Miller will receive the Soldier’s Medal on Monday at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. His wife, Ashley, will be at his side.
The Soldier’s Medal is awarded for an act that “involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life” in a noncombat situation, and is not given “solely on the basis of having saved a life,” according to Army regulations.
“It’s humbling,” Miller said, “but also it makes me think back to that day and the three guys who were killed. I replay the day, ‘What else could I have done?’ – even though there wasn’t more I could have done.”
Another soldier who was wounded in the Fort Hood shooting, 1st Lt. John Arroyo Jr., also received the Soldier’s Medal this month.
Miller – who served two tours of duty in Iraq – came face-to-face with the gunman, Spc. Ivan Lopez, who went on a shooting spree at the Army base in central Texas on April 2, 2014. Lopez fatally shot two soldiers and wounded 15 others before entering the Medical Brigade Building, where Miller worked as comptroller of the First Medical Brigade.
Lopez shot the guard at the front desk, killing him. Miller came across him in the hall, unaware Lopez was the gunman. He shot Miller with a .45-caliber bullet, which hit him 2 inches below his heart and went through his colon, smashing a rib and embedding in his back. Miller got back into his office and locked the door. Holding his side with one hand, he used his other hand to call 911 on his cellphone. He got all the soldiers in the office to a backroom, where several put pressure on his wound to stop the bleeding.
Miller was the last soldier shot before the gunman was confronted by Military Police and fatally shot.
Nearly an hour after being shot, when the base was still on lockdown in the emergency, Miller climbed out a window and made his way to an ambulance and the hospital. His recovery took months.
Still, he is uncomfortable being the center of attention.
“The men who lost their lives are more deserving awards,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, commander of the Combined Arms Center and Command and General Staff College, will present the medal.
Miller will graduate in June from the Command and General Staff College and then go to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu as chief financial officer for three years, the longest posting he has had.
“Last year has been pretty crazy for both of us and the entire family,” he said.
But after months of recovery, his reaction to the April 2 anniversary of the shooting took him by surprise.
“It was more emotional than I thought it would be,” he said. “We are usually pretty good at compartmentalizing.”
The last year has been the most challenging, and the most rewarding, of his life, he said.
Miller and his wife will return to Western New York in June, before they move to Hawaii.