In memoriam

We salute the fallen men of the 1st Ranger Battalion, who have died serving our country. You will not be forgotten.
It has been said, that "a man never dies when his name remains spoken." We wish to keep these heroes memories alive and ensure that their sacrifice will never be forgotten. Therefore we created this space to tell each Ranger's story in a unique and more complete way. We know that these men were great Rangers, but they were also amazing fathers, sons, and brothers. Those stories should be told. Consequently, if you have a memory, photo or short story your wish to share about one of these warriors, please send an email and we can incorporate it into his page.

Specialist Brandon E. Miller

Brandon was born on September 14, 1982 in Coles County, the son of Edward and Bonnie Boys Miller. He was raised by his loving mother and father Bonnie and Harry Fitzgerald. He was a graduate of Shelbyville High School in the class of 2000. On his 18th birthday, September 14, 2000, Brandon joined the U.S. Army to be an Army Ranger. Brandon completed Basic Training and the Infantryman’s Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Benning, GA. Upon completion of Basic Training and AIT, SPC Miller attended the United States Army Basic Airborne Course and the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP). SPC Miller was then assigned as a Rifleman and Squad Automatic Weapons gunner to 3rd Squad, 3rd Platoon Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. While assigned to the Rangers, Brandon participated in numerous training and combat operations to include Operation Enduring Freedom from Dec. 2001 to Apr. 2002 and Operation Iraqi Freedom from Mar. 2003 to Apr. 2003. Additionally, Brandon’s unit participated in the rescue mission of Jessica Lynch. Brandon’s awards include the coveted Ranger Tab, Basic Parachutist’s Badge, Army Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the Expert Infantryman’s Badge.

He is survived by his mother, Bonnie Powers and husband Jim of Findlay; sister, Brittany Fitzgerald of Shelbyville; grandparents, Carl and Lois Boys of Shelbyville; great grandmother, Agnes Ground of Manteno; aunts and uncles, John and Debbie Tichenor of Shelbyville, Mike and Janet Ehret of Belleville and Harold and Marsha Boys of Shelbyville; cousins, Robert and Jennifer (Storm) McCullough of Belleville, Carla Storm of St. Louis, Steve and Sarah (Boys) Humphrey of Havelock, NC, Rachel Boys of Springfield, Justin Tichenor of Mattoon and Wyatt Tichenor of Shelbyville.

He is survived by his father, Harry Fitzgerald of Shelbyville; aunts and uncles, Pansie Markham, Nancy Linder, Charles Fitzgerald and John Fitzgerald all of Fairfield; and cousins, Debbie Bennett and Paul Bennett both of Fairfield.

He is survived by his natural father, Edward Miller and wife Naidean of Pana; half-brother, Rudie Miller of Pana; half-sister, Hannah Miller of Pana; step-brother and special friend Luke Lehman of Pana; step-brother, Ben Lehman of Ladysmith, WI; step-sister, Sarah Stricklin of Ladysmith, WI; grandparents, Arnold and Doris Miller of Pana; and great grandmother, Alice Witt of Pana;

He was preceded in death by his aunt, Maureen Boys; grandparents, John and Helen Fitzgerald; great grandparents, Clint and Dorothy Miller.

Memorial contributions can be made in Brandon’s name to: The 75th Ranger Regiment Association, P.O. Box 921, Heflin, AL 36264

Ranger Killed in Parachuting Accident

A 20-year-old Ranger who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq died Thursday night in a parachuting accident at Fort Stewart.

Spc. Brandon E. Miller of A Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment jumped from a C-17 about 11 p.m. at Fort Stewart’s Galahad drop zone, said Walter Sokalski, spokesman for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

The official cause of the accident is under investigation, and it will be several months before a final report is released.

Miller’s family was proud of his combat service.

But Miller’s stepfather, Harry Fitzgerald of Shelbyville, Ill., a Vietnam veteran who raised him, always worried about the danger involved in a Ranger’s work. He even suggested once that Miller change jobs.

“Even when you aren’t in combat, it’s extremely high risk, but he said ‘I’ve got to do it,’ ” Fitzgerald said. “I told him, ‘Son, I pray that nothing happens to you’ and that’s all I could do about it.

“Then he was back on a little stinking-ass, cruddy training mission and things go wrong.”

The accident happened when another Ranger’s parachute drifted underneath Miller, according to the account given to Fitzgerald by Army officials. The other parachute blocked the draft underneath Miller, causing his parachute to collapse.

Miller did not maneuver away or pull his emergency chute before he hit the ground, Fitzgerald said. The Army is investigating why those things didn’t happen, he said.

“It was just a freak accident,” Fitzgerald said. “When you’re doing that kind of business, things like that happen. I was in the military seven years and I know that stuff happens.”

Miller was taken by helicopter to Memorial Health University Medical Center, where he died.

Miller joined the Army on Sept. 14, 2000 — his 18th birthday. Besides hunting and fishing as a youngster, he always loved the military, Fitzgerald said.

“He wanted to go for the adventure,” he said. “He like the idea of serving his country.”

Miller was assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion in May 2001, and he finished Ranger School in November.

As a 1st Battalion Ranger, Miller had served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He had earned a Combat Infantry Badge and an Army Commendation Medal.

In Iraq, Miller participated in the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, helped secure airfields and fought in northern Iraq, Fitzgerald said.

“He was all over the place.”

The Rangers returned from Iraq in late April, but they weren’t scheduled to go on leave until later.

Rangers often parachute at Fort Stewart to keep their skills sharp, and Miller’s unit was on a routine training mission, Sokalski said. They were not practicing combat assaults after the jump.

The last Ranger to die in training at Fort Stewart was Pvt. Greg Belletti, who drowned during a river crossing exercise in October 1995.

Miller’s unit — A Company — also lost three Rangers in March 2002 during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan.

Miller also is survived by his mother, Bonnie E. Powers of Findley, Ill.; his father, Edward A. Miller of Pana, Ill.; a half-sister, Brittany Fitzgerald; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

We salute the fallen men of the 1st Ranger Battalion, who have died serving our country. You will not be forgotten.