The Day Time Stood Still
Thursday, Jan 31, 2019
Andy Miller
Lander graduate Andy Miller ’91, right, gives a thumbs up with U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Andrew Neil shortly after Miller was nearly killed in a helicopter bomb explosion in 2013 in Afghanistan. Miller recently penned a book about his experience and year-long assignment in Afghanistan.  Photo courtesy Andy Miller

On Sept. 7, 2013, U.S. Army pilot Andy Miller was flying a routine training mission in Afghanistan.

The 1991 Lander University graduate was nearing the end of a year-long assignment to train Afghan Air Force pilots in rotorcraft operations, and Miller was already counting the days until he got to come home to his wife and family.

As he demonstrated a landing on a small desert pinnacle to his Afghan co-pilot, his helicopter was suddenly rocked by an explosion, and then a fireball.

Miller dragged himself and the wounded co-pilot away from the wreckage, applied tourniquets to stop bleeding wounds, and while time seemed to stand still, he used his survival radio to make a Mayday distress call, realizing that both of them would die if help didn't come soon.

And if you want to know what happened next and what led to its happening, the full story is chronicled in Miller’s book Pamir 62: Heroes are Forever, published in August 2018.

“I spent nearly 100 days in hospitals and had 12 surgeries before I was discharged to go home in December 2013,” said Miller, who served in the U.S. Army from 1995-2015. “I continued physical therapy for the rest of my time in the army.”

While recovering, he began jotting down notes about the incident, primarily to remember it as it happened and, later, to be able to recall it accurately to his family when the time came.

“My three kids were still quite young when the event happened,” he said. “I wanted them to know what happened and some of what I did in the Army while I was away.”

Over time, Miller kept writing, documenting not only his near miss, but his year-long deployment to Afghanistan. Soon, he realized he had enough for a book – something he had not previously considered.

“I originally intended it to just be something I put together for my immediate family,” Miller said. “But my sister-in-law, Grace, encouraged me to publish it for a wider audience.”

Andy Miller book

Unless you happen to be in Miller’s hometown of Baraboo, Wis, where you can check out a copy of the book at the local library, the best way to purchase a copy is to visit "Pamir 62" on Facebook or contact the author at pamir62book@gmail.com.

“I hope my story will give readers a greater appreciation for what the men and women of our nation's military do daily,” Miller said.

“And I also hope it will motivate other members of the military to tell their own stories.”

Luckily for Miller, his educational background helped him tell  his story.

“When I was at Lander, I earned an English degree," he said. "So during my Army career, I used many of the skills I learned at Lander, and after nearly getting killed in Afghanistan, my degree was certainly useful as I wrote my book.”

 

This story is featured in the Fall 2018 edition of Lander Magazine. Read more at www.lander.edu/magazine.