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Overland Park Family Remembers Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - On this Memorial Day weekend, a family is remembering one of their own, who died while serving in Afghanistan.

Private First Class Cale Miller died May 24 of wounds suffered from enemy action while serving in Maiwand, Afghanistan.  He was a member of the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. He was also  a 2007 graduate of Olathe Northwest High School and attended the University of Kansas and Baker University.

The flag at Miller's high school alma mater, flies at half-staff.

"He always put others first, he's an incredible brother to my wife and he was an incredible uncle," Frank Barden, Miller's brother-in-law said.

The Department of Defense said the 23-year-old suffered injuries when his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device.  Barden said this was Miller's first tour and he had only been there for about two months.

"You've got anger and sadness obviously, then you've also got this immense feeling of pride," Barden said.

Pride because Miller's family said he died doing what he loved.  In a statement to media outlets, Miller's mother Deborah Collins, said of her son, "Although we are devastated by our loss, we find comfort knowing that Cale died doing exactly what he wanted to do.  His sacrifice shall not be in vain, and we rest assured knowing that some good will come from his untimely death.  We love him to the moon and back."

Barden said Miller adored kids, and they adored him. He said Miller also loved dogs and like making others smile.

"He had this knack for bringing a light side to a situation," Barden said.

That made his personality unforgettable according to faculty at his Olathe Northwest.  Jay Novacek, the school's assistant principal and athletic director, said Miller played in band, he wrestled, and was an offensive lineman for the football team.

"They're guys who work in the trenches and don't get their names in the paper for scoring touchdowns, but they they do all the dirty work and you know, that's kind of how he was, he was just a hard worker and a tremendous, tremendous young man," Novacek said.

Miller's family said he grew up in Olathe, but his family now lives in Overland Park.  Barden said they are making arrangements for a public service.  The family ask for donations to be made in Miller's name to the United Service Organization, or USO.

Gov. Sam Brownback issued the following statement on Miller's death.

"Lt. Governor Colyer and I are profoundly saddened to hear of the loss of Private Miller. He is a hero and will forever remain in the hearts of the Kansans and the Americans for whom he gave his life serving. No words can assuage the bereavement felt by all those that loved Cale. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his family and loved ones in this difficult time," Gov. Brownback said.

When Private Miller's funeral is held, Kansas flags will be flown at half-staff as is done for all Kansas military members killed in the line of duty.

This is the second Johnson County soldier who has died in Afghanistan in two weeks.  Sgt. Mike Knapp, also from Overland Park, died May 18.

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email: gia.vang@wdaftv4.com

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