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Staff judge advocate keeps Marines on the law's side

By Cpl. Natasha S. Rawls | | November 22, 2005

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A Marine from the station legal center was awarded the Bronze Star during a ceremony held at the station headquarters building Nov. 22.

Lt. Col. Robert M. Miller received the naval service's fourth highest award during his meritorious achievement during his role as staff judge advocate in combat operations while serving during a deployment to Iraq, from August 2004 to March 2005, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

“He was given this award for his role as the staff judge advocate,” said Col. Ben D. Hancock, station commanding officer. “He was basically the number one legal advisor to the commanding general of the First Marine Division and every single Marine and sailor within the First Marine Division while they conducted combat operations against insurgents in Iraq.

“This included ensuring Marines were complying with the laws of armed conflict, rules of engagement and (were properly handling enemy combatants), and also performing humanitarian work.”

Hancock said Miller’s service in Iraq was commendable and earning this award was a great feat.

“This is an award that is only given in combat and the Marine Corps is very stingy with this award,” said Hancock.

According to the citation, Miller served as the investigating officer on high profile cases involving alleged law of war violations.

During these cases, the citation said Miller "(traveled) throughout the Al Anbar province and put himself at great personal risk during Operation Al Fajr to conduct investigations in the city while combat operations were still ongoing."

"During this period, Lieutenant Colonel Miller provided critical legal advice to the commanding general on complex issues involving operational law, rules of engagement, the law of war and the law of armed conflict," according to the citation.

Hancock said these actions were key to some of the success of Miller's unit.

"We are really proud of Lieutenant Colonel Miller for what he has done in Iraq," said Hancock.

Hancock said Miller’s expertise, knowledge, dedication and devotion helped contribute to his success.

Along with offering his services to the commanders and Marines of his unit, Miller also established a plan to pay a humanitarian payment to each head of household in Fallujah to help with the morale of the people after the operations.

While Miller was recognized, he attributed his success and showed appreciation for the Marines of the First Marine Division.

"It is quite an honor to receive this award," said Miller. "I have great respect for the Marines of First Marine Division. This is my thirtieth year of service in the Marine Corps, but I was never more honored than to serve with those Marines (in Iraq) at that time. To see the motivation and enthusiasm that they had for their job is what we train Marines to do, and we hope in combat operations they are able to carry those things out and accomplish the mission. It was great; I never saw more enthusiasm than when they had the opportunity to do their job. It was a pleasure and an honor to serve with them as their staff judge advocate."

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