Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Scott Miller laid to rest

Linda Fittje's children were among about 200 people who paid their respects Tuesday to a fallen soldier.

The three children -- among the first to arrive at the burial service for Pvt. Scott A. Miller -- clutched tiny American flags in their hands as they stood across from the chapel at Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery in Evansville.

"I think it's really important this community shows support for this family," said Fittje, whose husband coached Miller in high school.

That support was evident by the mourners who filled the cemetery grounds in honor of the 20-year-old Casper man, who died in combat in Baqubah, Iraq, on June 9. His brigade had been in Iraq for about a year.

Miller, remembered by friends and family for his smile, burly frame and love of the outdoors, joined the Army in July 2004, shortly after graduating from Natrona County High School. He was assigned to the Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Fort Lewis, Wash.

Miller was the 10th Wyoming soldier to die in Iraq.

The mourners, including Gov. Dave Freudenthal, honored Miller at a funeral Mass at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Casper. From there, the funeral procession, led by two Casper police motorcycles, made its way to the veterans cemetery for Miller's burial.

As she waited for the procession to arrive, Fittje instructed her children on proper flag etiquette.

"They're never too young to teach them respect," she said.

A little after noon, the procession reached the cemetery, where an honor guard from the Wyoming Army National Guard waited. The soldiers, dressed in crisp uniforms of blue and dark green, removed Miller's flag-draped casket from a hearse and carried it to the cemetery chapel.

About 100 people packed the small chapel to offer final prayers, while a sizeable crowd lingered outside.

The family requested that members of the media not come inside for the Mass or chapel service.

A folded American flag was presented to Miller's family and a soldier read out the medals the young man had earned in the Army. As a bugler played "Taps," quite sobs could be heard through the building.

Many in attendance wore a photo of Miller, dressed in his Army uniform, along with a black ribbon. In that photograph, Miller is grinning and looks proud of what he's doing, said Army Reserve Chaplain Robert Peterson.

During the somber service inside the chapel, Peters spoke of the sacrifice Miller made for his friends and his country.

"Scott's life," he said, "was a life worth living."

From the Star Tribune

Related Link:
Scott A. Miller dies 'of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire'