Michael R. Lehmiller
Sereant, United States Army
RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
August 23, 2005
Media Contact: Army Public Affairs - (703) 692-2000 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died on August 21, 2005, near Baylough, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during patrol operations. The soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Vicenza, Italy.
Specialist Blake W. Hall, 20, of East Prairie,
For further information related to this release,
contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
The war on terror claimed another one of Utah's own. Sergeant Michael R. Lehmiller, 23, died Sunday in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device blew up a wooden bridge just as his convoy passed over it.
Lehmiller attended high school in Clearfield, where his father still lives. He enlisted in the Army Signal Corps in 2001, working to declassify information. When September 11th occurred, his father says Lehmiller wanted to defend his country.
Three troops were wounded by shrapnel from secondary explosions as they tried to pull the four fatal victims out of a burning Humvee.
Robert Lehmiller heard news reports on Sunday of the deaths, but he just continued his day, hoping his son wasn't one of them.
"Every day you have a routine, and it helps you get through it," he said. "You get up and you watch the news. See what's going on in Baghdad, see what's happening in Afghanistan. You go to work, because work helps get your mind off it, and you just hope it is not your son."
Lehmiller followed the same routine Sunday. "It was just like any other Sunday and the doorbell rang," he said. "When I looked up and saw the two military officers (at the door), I knew. I knew that one of the four was my son."
Michael Lehmiller was from Anderson, South Carolina, where his mother lives. He lived with his father in Clearfield briefly and attended Clearfield High School.
He enlisted in March 2001 in the Army Signal Corps, and was involved in declassifying information.
After September 11, 2001, he switched to the 82nd Airborne Division, his father said.
"After 9/11, his whole outlook changed," Robert Lehmiller said. "He had to go and defend us."
His son's commanding officer called Lehmiller on Tuesday. "He said Mike was a tremendous fighter, a great fighter to be with. You knew that your back was protected. You knew that he wouldn't leave you," Lehmiller said.
Lehmiller said his son "felt that his training and his abilities would keep him out of being killed. But he didn't want to be maimed. He didn't want to come home a shell of a person. I'm glad he didn't suffer. But I'd take him back in a minute."
He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
A Utah man and his family are mourning the death of an Army soldier but say their sense of pride somehow overshadows their loss.
U.S. Army Sergeant Michael R. Lehmiller, 23, was killed Sunday when a makeshift bomb exploded under a wooden bridge that he and his company were traveling over near Baylough, Afghanistan.
"Nobody ever thought we'd lose Mike," said Robert Lehmiller, Michael's father, a Clearfield resident. "It would have to take an improvised explosive device to take him out because you're not going to be able to take him in a firefight — ask anyone who knew him. He was too good."
Michael Lehmiller attended Clearfield High School during his senior year and enlisted in the Army in 1999, three days after earning a degree at ITT Technical Institute in Greenville, South Carolina, where his mother lives. Not long after that, he was sent to Iraq for an 11-month tour of duty. When he returned, he immediately re-enlisted and was sent to Afghanistan.
He told family members, on more than one occasion, that serving his country was where he belonged, his father said.
"He liked to live life on the edge," Robert Lehmiller said. "He loved the military, he loved what he did, and he wanted to continue doing it." He said his son "believed in the reasons for being there" and continually saw improvements but did think that guarding convoys was boring.
Michael Lehmiller told his father that when he was finished with his second tour in the Middle East, he would try his hand at becoming a Ranger.
"He wanted action," his father said.
The soldier once called his father while on a rooftop in Baghdad in the middle of a firefight and another time just before jumping out of a Chinook helicopter. Those phone calls are what Robert Lehmiller said he will miss most about his son, always exciting and always at random times.
In September, Michael Lehmiller was due for a two-week visit home, during which he had planned on attending a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game with his father and sisters. He was a big-time sports fan, having played nearly every sport most of his life.
"We were just going to pal around in Florida. You know, 'guy time,' " his father said.
When Michael Lehmiller's body is released to the family on Saturday, final plans for his burial will be made. The family will travel from Utah to wherever services are held, which could be South Carolina or Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed in
a Tuesday release that in addition to Lehmiller, Christopher L. Palmer,
22, of California; Joshua Hyland, 31, of Montana; and Blake Hall, 20, of
Missouri; were also killed in the same blast. They were all assigned to
the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade based
in Vicenza, Italy.
"I would take him back in any shape, but I guess he got his wish," he said.
Lehmiller's family is still working on funeral arrangements; however, his wishes were to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, an honor his father said is "huge."
"It's special there," Robert Lehmiller said.
"It's only filled with heroes."