Andrew Miller was destined to be a soldier from the time he was a young boy.
“At age seven, he had his room decorated in camouflage netting,” David Bedard, a friend of the family, said at the private’s funeral July 3.
“By age nine, he had recruitment posters for the Canadian Forces plastered all over his walls.”
He knew the risks, was aware of the danger, but he still chose to deploy, charging into uncertainty, knowing full well the consequences.
Pte. Andrew Miller’s father
Bedard said the young soldier was equally destined to become a medic.
“By age nine, he was assembling first aid kits. This was discovered accidentally when Wendy (his mother) found him raiding her feminine hygiene products, because they were good to stop the bleeding.”
He became a soldier at 17 years old, following in his father, Raymond Ealdama’s footsteps, who also entered the military at a young age.
“He followed his father into a life of service,” Bedard said. “He heard the stories from his father about the difference Canada was making in Afghanistan, and he really wanted to be a part of that.”
By 21, Pte. Miller was serving his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. But that’s where the young medic’s story ends.
On June 26, while en route to help an Afghan family’s who had found a bomb attached to the door of their home, the armoured vehicle carrying Miller, fellow medic Master Corporal Kristal Giesebrecht, and other soldiers, struck a roadside bomb. Miller and Giesebrecht were both killed in the blast, while a third soldier was taken to Kandahar City hospital in stable condition.
Miller and Giesebrecht became the 149th and 150th Canadian soldiers to be killed in Afghanistan.
“He was very dedicated to his work,” Bedard said. “He loved his job. He was doing exactly what he wanted to do — he wanted to make a difference in the lives of the Afghan people, he wanted to assist his fellow soldiers, and he was in Afghanistan doing exactly that when he died.”
In helping the mourners deal with their sorrow, Bedard helped them remember what made Miller the person he was.
Bedard told stories that brought laughter to a room filled with anguish, and smiles to faces streaked with tears. He reminded the mourners of a young man you lightened any situation, a friend who loved to cook, and a soldier who died helping to make the world a safer place.
“Andrew left us too soon,” Bedard said. “He’s not going to be a husband, although he would have been a great one. He’s not going to be a father, although he’s a natural at that. And he’s not going to be an uncle, although he would have been the favourite uncle.
“We’re not going to dance at his wedding, we’re not going to celebrate his promotions and accomplishments. But we’re not going to forget him.”
Miller’s father knew all too well the dangers his son was entering into by deploying to Afghanistan.
“When it came time for Andrew to go overseas, I had a unique understanding and was obviously concerned,” Ealdama, a sergeant with the Greater Sudbury Police Service, said in his eulogy for his son. “I tried to explain the dangers and the hardships he would soon experience — the heat, the sand, the fighting — but nothing would deter our boy from joining his comrades.
“He knew the risks, was aware of the danger, but he still chose to deploy, charging into uncertainty, knowing full well the consequences.”
Overcome with emotion with his wife’s arm wrapped tightly around his waist at the podium, Ealdama painted a picture of a brave young man who died doing what he loved.
“Andrew, my son, we will all sleep more peacefully tonight in our beds because of you and all your fallen comrades. Your sacrifice was not made in vain.
“Tonight, Heaven is better protected because of you,” he continued. “We love you Andrew. Welcome home boy.”