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Dayton Daily News | Feb 05, 2014 | by Will Garbe

For decades, Maurice Miller never told anyone how he survived being shot in the head as he held off enemy fire during a battle on the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War.

Forty-six years later, Miller, a Preble County farmer, brought up his survival story during a conversation last year with his son-in-law.

“He’s a real reserved, quiet kind of person,” West Foster said. “We’re sitting together and he’s telling me this.”

Foster, also an Army veteran, asked Miller about his Purple Heart, and Miller revealed something else: He never was awarded one.

“It probably wasn’t awarded over there because I was in one company, the 9th Infantry Division, and then I got transferred,” Miller said.

Surprised and determined to honor his father-in-law, Foster asked Miller if he could try to correct the Army’s omission. Miller agreed, and Foster set out to find the Purple Heart nearly five decades in the making.”I was surprised, but then again, so many things happened,” Foster said. “I think that it’s important that if you’re willing to sacrifice you get the recognition.”

Foster wrote a letter to his Congressional representative, Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp. He shared the letter with his mother-in-law, Claudia, to whom Miller was newlywed when he was drafted after his high school graduation.

“My mother-in-law had no idea that this had occurred,” Foster said. “She started crying when she read the letter about what happened in Vietnam.”

Boehner’s office helped the family navigate the process.

Foster said Boehner’s office contacted the Department of the Army and confirmed Miller’s story. About six weeks later, Claudia Miller received notification from Boehner’s office that her husband would receive the Purple Heart.

“Sergeant Maurice Miller’s courage and service to our country should be commended by every American, and I am humbled by the sacrifices he made while defending our freedom,” Boehner said in a statement.

The ceremony was held Jan. 31 at the Preble County Courthouse with representatives from Rep. Boehner’s office and the Department of Veterans Affairs in attendance.

“The ceremony was fantastic, it was a real nice day,” Foster said. “It makes me proud to be a former soldier. It makes me proud to be the son-in-law of a hero.”

Miller, still reserved, humbly replied.

“I don’t know if I’m a hero or not, but I’ll have my Purple Heart,” he said. “I’m appreciative.”

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