Soldier turns tragedy to triumph

| December 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal
Defense Media Activity
Forward Center Hawaii

TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER — U.S. Army Maj. Patrick Miller began working, here, in 2016 as the hospital’s resource manager, but not a day goes by when he doesn’t remember one day at a past assignment that changed his life forever.

U.S. Army Maj. Patrick Miller, Tripler Army Medical Center resource manager, poses for a photo with his wife and daughter during a Thanksgiving potluck Nov. 18, 2016, at TAMC, Hawaii. Miller is a survivor of the 2014 Fort Hood shooting. Today he works as the resource manager at the TAMC and volunteers his time to augment the hospitalÕs active shooter, antiterrorism training to provide a real world account to raise awareness for Soldiers and civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)

U.S. Army Maj. Patrick Miller, Tripler Army Medical Center resource manager, poses for a photo with his wife and daughter during a Thanksgiving potluck Nov. 18, 2016, at TAMC, Hawaii. Miller is a survivor of the 2014 Fort Hood shooting. Today he works as the resource manager at the TAMC and volunteers his time to augment the hospitalÕs active shooter, antiterrorism training to provide a real world account to raise awareness for Soldiers and civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)

For Miller, April 2, 2014, was like any other Wednesday, like any other work day – until it wasn’t.

What happened

“I was thinking to myself I can’t believe this is how it ends … this is how I’m going to go,” Miller said. “I said I’m not spitting up blood, choking up blood. I can control my breathing and I’m cognoscente of the situation. … I’m going to live.’”

Miller is one of 16 survivors of the 2014 Fort Hood tragedy, one who faced life and death at less than an arm’s length away from a Soldier focused on ending lives.

“I vividly remember thinking this Soldier sees Major Miller standing there, and he’ll come in our office for protection,” Miller said. “At that time, he ran up to me and shot me in the stomach, point blank, with a .45.”

After being severely injured and despite his life hanging in the balance, Miller fought back, applying pressure to his wound with one hand and calling 911 with the other.

“I just pushed him out of the doorway, shut and locked the door, ran through the office, so I could lock the other side of the door, and grabbed the folks that were under their desks, under their cubicles and brought them into my office,” Miller said.

Photo by 94th Airlift Wing This photo shows Maj. Patrick Miller after a 2014 Fort Hood shooting. Miller is one of 16 survivors of the tragedy; he in Texas in 2014. Today he works at Tripler Army Medical Center. Miller works to raise readiness and awareness while stationed at TAMC. He is a native of Allegany, New York.

This photo shows Maj. Patrick Miller after a 2014 Fort Hood shooting. Miller is one of 16 survivors of the tragedy; he in Texas in 2014. Today he works at Tripler Army Medical Center. Miller works to raise readiness and awareness while stationed at TAMC. He is a native of Allegany, New York. (Photo by 94th Airlift Wing)

Once the area was secure, medics were able to arrive on scene to help Miller and transport him to the nearest hospital.

“I still communicate and talk with, to this day, the surgeons, the doctors, the nurses, the medics and the staff at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center,” Miller said. “I’m eternally grateful for them saving my life.”

His period of physical recovery would prove challenging, but thanks to his wife being there with him, every step of the way, he was able to overcome obstacles.

“Physically and mentally, it was tough, especially those first few months,” Miller said. “It was an adjustment for my wife and my family. My wife is a nurse so that care, that home care, was a godsend in itself. What drove me then and what drives me today is not sitting around feeling sorry for myself, but to really be greatful that I’m still here and I am still alive.”

Active shooter training

Aside from his duties as the hospital’s resource manager, Miller shares his story with Soldiers and civilians to bolster readiness so that others can be more prepared if they have to react to a real-world active shooter scenario.

“I volunteer to augment the antiterrorism, active shooter training here, to take a real life, real-world example to kind of show people how real it is, so it can hit home a little more,” Miller said. “It’s so important to pay attention to those active shooter trainings … the resiliency stuff that we do – because run, hide, fight, it’s not a joke. … You need to know what to do, the steps to take, where to go, because the worst thing you can do is do nothing.”

U.S. Army Col. Soo Lee Davis, TAMC deputy commander of Administration, said that the efforts Miller volunteers to fulfill in order to heighten awareness is important.

“Having someone who can speak on why it’s important to train on what we call an active shooter incident makes it more real and makes it come alive,” Davis said. “It heightens the reality of the risk, and it really puts you in a position where you think ‘What would I do in that situation?’ … It’s not something you just read in the news or you read in the paper. … It’s a living person that’s here and talking to you about it.”

Davis said that Miller is an example that Soldiers should strive to emulate.

“When I think of duty, honor and country, and when I think of all the Army values, Patrick Miller comes to mind,” Davis said. “I think he really represents the kind of leader and tone that we want to see in our future Army leaders.”

Miller continues to serve and find new opportunities to raise awareness and increase readiness to better arm service members and civilians if an incident should happen again, all while remembering and honoring those who lost their lives on that tragic day.

“Not a day goes by where I don’t think of Sgt. 1st Class Danny Ferguson or Sgt. Timothy Owens or Staff Sgt. Lazaney-Rodriguez,” Miller said. “Regardless of what happened, you still have another chance. Not everyone gets that chance. Take the tragedies in life … and turn them into triumphs.”

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