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U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Clarence Miller Jr.
Troop Keeps Soldiering After 21 Years

By Sgt. Nicole Kojetin
1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, March 6, 2007 — Few children know exactly what they want to be when they grow up. Often the childhood fantasies revolve around being a cowboy, astronaut or president.

But newly-promoted Sgt. Maj. Clarence Miller Jr., knew exactly what he wanted to be... a soldier.

"Since probably the sixth grade, I knew that I was going into the military," said the native of Pensacola, Fla.

It was sort of a family affair.

"I would see relatives in the military who always seemed to have it together and have direction in their lives," Miller said. "It never seemed like they were scraping pennies like other people back home. It inspired me."

From the beginning, he knew what field he wanted to go into. Although the family members who were in the military were in the Army, he wasn't sold on which branch in the military to go into. His choice of a job made the choice for him.

"I went to the Marine Corps first and requested communications," Miller said. "They told me that my job was to be a fighter first, and they would make the choice of what job I would have.

" The Army, on the other hand, had given him his choice. In 1984, a month and a half after graduating high school, he left for the basic training.

As far as he was concerned, it was the only option.

"I was from a small town and neither one of my parents had much of an education," Miller said. "My father's father died when he was about eight, and he was the oldest. He quit school to help the family. My mother quit school in 11th grade. They were just proud of me for graduating from high school. They never expected me to go to college. In fact, it was never really mentioned to me.

"So, I never really had any intention to go to college. I really just wanted to be a soldier," he added.

When his childhood dreams finally came true, it wasn't quite bliss. He said his mom wasn't keen on him being away. Since the beginning, she had a hard time letting go of her son and pressured him to come home.

After his mother had some health problems, including open-heart surgery, Miller made the hard decision to get out of the military.

"I have strong family ties," he said. "She needed me."
It didn't last long, although he felt he was needed at home, his family understood that his heart was still with the Army.

"I love the institution and taking care of soldiers," he said. "It gives me the chance to counsel people without being a psychologist and I truly enjoy it. From the beginning, it was my intention to stay in and retire."

The conflict of heart was resolved by a conversation with his father.

"My father sat me down and told me that I needed to start living for me and not for others," Miller said.

A year and a half after leaving active duty, with his family and God on his side, he was back in the military.

It is a good thing he did, too. He met his bride, Alcer, in the Army, and they have now been married for 12 years. They have two sons.

U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Clarence Miller Jr., smiles prior to his promotion ceremony, March 3, on Camp Liberty, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nicole Kojetin

"Beside's my mom, she is my biggest fan," Miller said. "Whenever I get the smallest bit tired, she motivates me to keep going."

The bond with his family helps him through hardships and he loves spending time with them.

"I could spend 10 hours just sitting and talking to my wife, not really doing anything," he said.

He looks forward from getting back from this deployment do just that, along with a little fishing. According to him, Z-Lake, the manmade lake which serves as a borderline between Liberty and Camp Victory, just doesn't cut it. Plus, he doesn't have much free time in Iraq, anyway.

His job as the radio noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the Multi-National Division - Baghdad headquarters keeps him on his toes. He is also very active at church, singing in the choir and learning as much as he can about his religion.
"Serving God keeps me sane," Miller said.

Also, his views on college have changed drastically since he was a teenager, and he is taking classes.

"I realized that education is the key, that even though I am a soldier, I needed to better myself through civilian education," Miller said. He has made great strides in that direction.

Miller has an associate's degree in liberal arts with the University of Maryland, a Bachelor's of Science with a concentration in management, and is six courses away from a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in military operations.

He is planning on using what he has learned to educate others when he retires.

Miller said he is looking into the Troops to Teacher's Program or possibly teaching college courses, maybe history or humanities.

He still has a few good years left in the Army, though. He's planning on enjoying them until it is time for him to move aside for another soldier to take his place.

Last Updated:
03/06/2007, Eastern Daylight Time
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