Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

In Memory of

Chosen Company's Sgt. Michael R. Lehmiller...may we all be as proud as his mother.

ANDERSON, S.C. - Army Sgt. Michael R. Lehmiller, 23, was killed while on patrol in Afghanistan when a massive bomb exploded under a wooden bridge as a convoy of armored Humvees crossed.

Lehmiller was serving near Baylough, Afghanistan, with the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy.

Lehmiller was interviewed by the Anderson Independent-Mail in March 2004 while he was home after serving almost a year in Iraq. He said he wouldn't hesitate about going back to Iraq or Afghanistan.

"If you ask me if there is still a war going on, I would say yes," Lehmiller said then. "People get hit over there everyday. Is it getting better? Oh, yes. But it's going to take a while. I am definitely in support of going back and doing what I can to fix the problems over there, because there are definitely problems over there."

Other men killed in Sunday's blast were 1st Lt. Joshua Hyland, 31, of Missoula, Mont.; Pvt. Christopher Palmer, 22, of Sacramento, Calif.; and Spc. Blake Hall, 20, of East Prairie, Mo. Three soldiers were injured.

They were part of a major offensive against militants who have vowed to subvert legislative elections on Sept. 18 - the next step toward democracy after more than two decades of war and civil strife.

Lehmiller's mother, Gail Michaels, spoke with her son last week. She said he told her he felt he belonged in the Middle East.

"He said, 'If I wasn't here, Mom, this (fight) would be in Anderson or Tampa or anywhere in the U.S., and we don't need it there," Michaels said.

Michaels said her son joined the Army days after his high school graduation.

"He was very proud of himself, and I was very proud of him. The whole family was," she said.

Lehmiller re-enlisted last summer and was deployed to Afghanistan just after Easter.

"I was looking forward to him coming home in September for two weeks," Michaels said.

"He will be missed," Michaels said. "He did the right thing."


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