Operation Enduring Freedom
HM2 CHARLES LUKE MILAM
Killed September 25 while conducting combat operations in Helmand
|IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1157-07
September 26, 2007
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Petty Officer Second Class Charles Luke Milam, 26, of Littleton, Colo., died September 25, while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Milam was a hospital corpsman assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
HM2 (FMF/DV/FPJ) Charles "Luke" Milam was killed in action in Afghanistan while conducting a combat patrol with his team. The vehicle they were riding in was hit by an RPG.
Luke reported to 2d Recon Bn directly from the pipeline in Aug 02 and deployed with Recon platoon, 26th MEU (Iraq, Horn of Africa and Liberia.) Between Jun 04 and Mar 05 he was assigned as ATL and then TL for team 4 and again deployed to Iraq, this time with 1st platoon, "B" Company, 2d Reconnaissance Battalion.
In May 05, Luke detached from 2d Recon Bn and reported to 2d Force Recon Co. Within just a few weeks Luke again deployed to Iraq, this time with 1st platoon, 2d Force Recon Co. Luke transition into 2d MSOB with 2d Force Recon Co and was assigned to "Golf" company.
Luke was simply an outstanding SARC, in 2006 he was selected as MARSOC's "Operator of the Year." Need I say more.
He was awarded the Bronze Star with combat "V" and Purple Heart for actions on 12 Nov 04 in Iraq.
~ Ken George HMCS
Columbine Graduate Dies In Afghanistan
2nd Class Charles Luke Milam Served 3 Tours In IraqPaula Vargas, Contributing Editor
September 26, 2007
Littleton, Colo. -- A Columbine graduate who joined the Navy two months after the 1999 school shooting has been killed in combat in Afghanistan.
The Defense Department said Petty Officer Second Class Charles Luke Milam of Littleton, a decorated Navy corpsman, died Tuesday in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. The 26-year-old was assigned to the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Keith Milam said his brother, who was known as Luke, wasn't shot at or wounded at Columbine. But he thinks the shootings, which left 12 students and a teacher dead, may have inspired him to become a corpsman and treat fellow service members for everything from everyday pain to combat injuries.
Milam was awarded the Purple Heart and named special operations commander of the year, his family said.
Milam enlisted June 14, 1999, attended boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill., and later graduated from the Naval Hospital Corps School December 1999, followed by a long list of school and training from Field Medical Service School Camp in Lejeune North Caroline, to Navy Dives Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Fla., and trained at John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center in North Carolina as a student.
In May 2005 he reported to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Camp in Lejeune, N.C., where he was deployed to Afghanistan with the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, where he died supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
He said his brother had served
three tours in Iraq before being sent to Afghanistan. "He
felt it was his duty to do whatever he could to help people
in the military. He was a hero in every sense of the term,"
said Keith Milam, who also served in the Navy as did his two
grandfathers. During his time with the Navy, Milam was award
the Purple Heart of Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service
Medal and two Combat Action Ribbons.
Rocky Mountain News—Denver,
September 28, 2007
Columbine was 'defining moment' for Navy medic who died a
School massacre 'defining moment' for 1999 graduate
By Jean Torkelson
Rocky Mountain News
September 28, 2007
Charles Luke Milam may have been inspired to follow a hero's path because of a day he never talked about, a terrible April day in 1999 when he was a student at Columbine High School. "He wasn't shot or wounded or shot at," his brother, Keith, said Thursday, "but absolutely, it was the defining moment of his life."
Two months after the Columbine killings, Milam, 26, enlisted in the Navy, following in the footsteps of his brother and two grandfathers.
This week, the decorated hospital corpsman - known to everybody as Luke - died in combat in Afghanistan. It was his fourth tour of duty. He had served three tours in Iraq, and would have gone back however many times it took to get the job done, his brother said.
"He felt it was his duty to do whatever he could to help people in the military," Milam said. "He was a hero in every sense of the term."
His brother surmises that living through the Columbine horror helped shape his brother's future. "It wasn't something Luke ever talked about, but the fact he chose to become a hospital corpsman may have had something to do with (Columbine)."
What was clear - something transformed Luke after he graduated. "He did OK in high school, but after he joined the military he was a star," his brother said. Milam was the first in his family to enter a medical field, dedicating himself to helping people deal with injuries and death in combat situations.
"Luke was responsible for the health and well-being of the men in his platoon," Keith Milam said. "He basically served as their doc - from everyday aches and pains to severe combat trauma."
Recognition followed. The Purple Heart was just one of many awards. Another - one the family is especially proud of - was being named Special Operations Command Operator of the Year.
Milam chose the military as his career. But he never lost a chance to return to Colorado for his favorite sports, from mountain biking and hiking, to scuba diving and sky diving.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Drinkwine Mortuary in Littleton, followed by a 1 p.m. graveside service at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
Milam's commanding officer is escorting his body back to Colorado from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
As word of Milam's death spreads to childhood friends, his old Scout troop and to military buddies, the anticipated crowd continues to grow larger and larger, his brother said.
"I think that
speaks to how valuable Luke was to his organization," his older brother
said. "He was the best of the best."
Take a moment to read. You
will find it worthwhile.
......Since our Declaration of Independence 42 million Americans have
claimed the honor of having served the nation in its military forces.
Since that time over a million have lost their lives serving the colors,
with millions more wounded. Since George Washington first took command
of the Continentals besieging Boston, America's warriors have stepped
forward and endured horrors unimaginable to most Americans, and saw it
all with their young eyes so those safe at home would never have to.
With all this service and loss of life, we as Americans can be proud of
the kind of people we are as we have never retained a square foot of any
country we have defeated. We possess no empire. No man or woman call us
master, as we have never subjugated any society. On the contrary,
billions across the planet -and billions more yet unborn-are today free
and increasingly prosperous because America took a stand; but it has
always fallen on the shoulders of our soldiers, sailors, airmen Coast
Guardsmen, and Marines that the task fell to...and they have never
Never, with the exception of World War II, has it been particularly crowded at the recruiting offices, and in recent years it's an increasingly slim slice of the American public who believe in this country enough to put life and limb on the line particularly in the Army and Marine Corps to serve without qualification, and without personal gain. Yet still for whatever reason they come-even though there is great pressure from our society to sit it out and not get involved.
The reality was that when many in this room grew up, and I know I am showing my age here, we were surrounded by men, real men, who had gladly worn the country's cloth in wars against fascism and communism. The earliest memories we had as kids back then were of comic books and paper backs that honored the sacrifices of the super heroes of those conflicts. It was a time when little boys could play guns, and weren't considered at risk to be psychopaths. To stand up when the national anthem was played or say the pledge of allegiance and a prayer to any God you worshiped before school, wasn't considered offensive to the sensitivities of the nation's self proclaimed intellectual elite. Places like Guadalcanal, Coral Sea, Normandy, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, and Hue City, were real to us then, and we knew without thinking that we owed the nation a debt.
We live in a very different world today, and we have indeed lost something of quality over the years. We don't always see that same selfless devotion to something bigger than self, which the lucky among us learned from past generations. Today, unfortunately, to most it's about quick gratification, and what's in it for me. Memorial and Veteran's Day are more about a day off to take advantage of the big sales at the malls, or fighting the traffic to get a long weekend at the seashore. But we should not forget that as we stand here today we are at war, and a new Greatest Generation is fighting a merciless enemy on our behalf in the terrible heat of Iraq, and mountains of Afghanistan. Like it or not America is engaged in - and winning - a war today against an enemy that is savage, offers no quarter, whose only objectives are to either kill every one of us here in our homeland, or enslave us with a sick form of extremism that serves no God or purpose that rational men and women can ever understand. Given the opportunity to do another 9/11, our vicious enemy would do it today, tomorrow, and everyday thereafter. In addition to killing thousands of innocent victims that day, they also killed hundreds of heroes: police, firefighters, and first responders of every sort that were not victims in their deaths, but the first fallen warriors of this generation's war. Given nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons-and the experts bet they will get them-these extremists would use these terror weapons against our cities, and smile. I don't know why they hate us, and I frankly don't care and they can all go to hell, but they do hate us and they are driven irrationally to our destruction. The best way to fight them is somewhere else, and for whatever reason they want to destroy our way of life I thank God we still have enough, just enough, young people in American today willing to take up the fight and defend us all.
This fight is today, not against some potential peer competitor that might emerge 30 years from now, and will be with us for another generation or more. Our enemy is on a 100 year campaign to victory, and believes without question that he is winning. We, on the other hand, look out two years at best and seem to be wavering and looking for a way to rationalize our way out. The problem is our enemy is not willing to let us go. Regardless of how much we wish this bad dream would go away, he will stay with us until he hurts us so badly we surrender, or we kill him first. To him this is not about jobs, economic opportunity, or solving social problems in the Middle East. It is about way of life, about everyman's and every woman's worth and equality in the eyes of the law, about the God given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He doesn't believe in these cherished concepts - we do. Our positions are irreconcilable.
The good news is our service members are as good today, as their fathers were in Vietnam, and their grandfathers were in Korea and World War II. In my two tours in Iraq as an infantry officer with the 1st Marine Division I never saw an American hesitate, or do anything other than lean into the fire and with no apparent fear of death or injury take the fight to our enemies. As anyone who has ever experienced combat knows, when it starts, when the explosions and tracers are everywhere and the calls for the Corpsman or medic are screamed from the throats of men who know they are dying - when seconds seem like hours and it all becomes slow motion and fast forward at the same time-everything in one's survival instinct says stop, get down, save yourself -yet they don't. When no one would call them cowards for cowering behind a wall or in a hole looking to their own self preservation, none of them do. It doesn't matter if it's an IED, a suicide bomber, mortar attack, fighting in an upstairs room of a house, or all of it at once; they talk, swagger, and, most importantly, fight today in the same way our young warriors have since the Revolution. They also know whose shoulders they stand on, and would die before anyone of them shamed any veteran of any service, living or dead.
You should see them. They have a look in their eye and a way of walking that marks them as warriors as good as any that have ever marched to the guns, but they are not born killers. They are, on the contrary, good and decent youngsters mostly from the neighborhoods of our cities, and small towns across America. Almost all are from "salt of the earth" working class homes, and more often than not are the sons and daughters of cops and firemen, factory workers and farmers. Kids who once delivered your papers, stocked shelves in the grocery store, played Little League, and served Mass on Sunday morning. They were athletes, as well as "couch potatoes," drove t heir cars and motorcycles too fast, and blasted their music a bit louder than they should. They are ordinary young people, performing remarkable acts of bravery and selfless acts of devotion to a cause bigger than themselves. They could have done something more self-serving, but chose to serve knowing full well Iraq and Afghanistan was in their future. They did not avoid the most basic and cherished responsibility of a citizen, on the contrary they welcomed it. They did not fail in school and without prospects, as the chattering class believe is why they are in the military and fighting and dying for the nation, but rather are the best our nation has to offer and have put every one of us above their own self interest. They are all heroes, but they know and understand fear in a way that few Americans do. It is not as much the fear of death or maiming they think about, but, rather, they are most terrified of letting their buddies down...but they never do.
Ladies and Gentlemen I had a unique experience a few years ago when serving as the Assistant Division Commander, of the 1st Marine Division. We were just south of Iraq along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border, and poised to launch an attack that would take us over the next three weeks 650 miles into the guts of Iraq, far beyond Baghdad and indeed to Saddam's hometown palace in Tikrit. When the artillery fires commenced just as the sun went down, and the evening sky above us was one endless formation of Marine, Navy and Air Force fighter aircraft speeding north to smash targets deep in Saddam's vitals, I was sitting taking it all in with my driver Cpl Dave Hardin from Dallas, and with a reporter from the Los Angeles Times. The reporter asked me a question that I'd never considered in my entire 36 years in the Marine Corps as both enlisted man and officer before the asking, but one I took up in my mind when he did. He pointed out the size and capability of the Iraqi forces in front of us that was many, many times bigger than we were in men, tanks, and artillery. He emphasized much to my discomfort the massive supplies of chemical weapons Saddam was thought to have, and the multiple means he had to rain their terrible kind of death upon us. He asked if I'd ever contemplated defeat. If it was even possible? My thoughts immediately took me back to trips I'd made to Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Inchon Korea, and Vietnam, and the conversations I'd had with veterans of those battles, mostly old men now. They tell of friends who made it, and many who didn't. About the good times, and the bad, but mostly about the good as is typical of our veterans. My response to the reporter was something like: "hell these are Marines. Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima, Baghdad ain't shit." This same sentiment could, and does, apply to any American serviceman or woman. We who serve, who are sent to fight wars and have nothing whatsoever to do with starting them, have never known defeat on the battlefield. When we have lost, we lost at home, and others declared defeat - not us.
America's Armed Forces today know the price of being the finest men and women this nation has to offer, and pay it they do everyday in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over four-thousand one hundred in all services have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, over a thousand of this number Marines, and Sailors serving with Marines - our precious Docs. And the sacrifice continues as Americans have gone to God since we all went to bed last night and slept free and protected. Their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, aunts, uncles, cousins and fiancés have only just learned of their deaths and begun to deal with the unimaginable pain that will stay wit h them for the rest of their lives. Thousands more have suffered wounds since it all started, but like firefighters and cops who fall protecting us here in America, they are not victims as they knew what they were about, and were doing what they wanted to do.
Many of today's pundits and media commentators want to make them and their families out to be victims but they are wrong, and this only detracts from the decision these patriots made to step forward and protect the country that has given so much to all of us. We who are serving, and have served, will have none of that. Those with less of a sense of service to the nation never understand it when strong men and women stand tall and firm against the our enemies, just as they can't begin to understand the price paid so they and their families can sleep safe and free at night-the protected never do. What they are missing, what they will also never understand, is the sense of commitment, joy, and honor, of serving our country in its uniform, but every American veteran, and their loved ones who supported them and feared for them everyday, do.
It's been my distinct honor to have had the opportunity to be here today with you. Rest assured, my fellow citizens, the nation you are a part of, this young experiment in democracy called America started just over two centuries ago, will forever remain the "land of the free and home of the brave" so long as we never run out of tough young Americans willing to look beyond their own self interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm.