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updated: 9/17/2015 8:55 AM

Friends, family praise push to name COD building for Medal of Honor recipient

Proposal to name building after Wheaton North grad would add to recognition

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  • A standout gymnast at Wheaton North High School, Staff Sgt. Robert Miller showed that same dedication and hard work in his career with the Special Forces in Afghanistan.

    A standout gymnast at Wheaton North High School, Staff Sgt. Robert Miller showed that same dedication and hard work in his career with the Special Forces in Afghanistan.
    Courtesy of Bobby Kaye

  • U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller

    U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller

  • U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller grew up in Wheaton and died in Afghanistan. His bravery during his final battle earned him the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.

    U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller grew up in Wheaton and died in Afghanistan. His bravery during his final battle earned him the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.
    Courtesy of Bobby Kaye

  • U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller is the second Medal of Honor recipient with ties to Wheaton. Now the College of DuPage board of trustees wants to name a building in his honor.

    U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller is the second Medal of Honor recipient with ties to Wheaton. Now the College of DuPage board of trustees wants to name a building in his honor.
    Courtesy of Bobby Kaye

  • College of DuPage trustees are scheduled to vote Thursday night on a proposal to name the school's Homeland Security Education Center after U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, who grew up in Wheaton and was killed fighting in Afghanistan.

    College of DuPage trustees are scheduled to vote Thursday night on a proposal to name the school's Homeland Security Education Center after U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, who grew up in Wheaton and was killed fighting in Afghanistan.
    Courtesy of Bobby Kaye

  • U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller became a hero as he gave his life fighting in Afghanistan. Miller, who grew up in Wheaton, was a popular figure with the locals, learned the native language of Pashto and led Afghan army forces into battle.

    U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller became a hero as he gave his life fighting in Afghanistan. Miller, who grew up in Wheaton, was a popular figure with the locals, learned the native language of Pashto and led Afghan army forces into battle.
    Courtesy of Bobby Kaye

  • President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to the parents of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller -- Phil and Maureen Miller -- in 2010.

    President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to the parents of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller -- Phil and Maureen Miller -- in 2010.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

Those who knew U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller say they're pleased by the prospect that College of DuPage officials may name a building after the Medal of Honor recipient with ties to Wheaton.

COD trustees are scheduled to vote tonight on a proposal to void school President Robert Breuder's employment contract, including a controversial $763,000 buyout deal approved in January -- possibly setting off a legal fight with the embattled administrator who likely would contest any such move.

If that passes, the board is expected to follow with another vote to name the Glen Ellyn school's Homeland Security Education Center in honor of Miller, a Wheaton North High School graduate who was killed in 2008 during combat in Afghanistan.

Bobby Kaye, a friend of Miller's, said he's "elated" with the prospect of having the building named in the soldier's honor.

The original decision to put Breuder's name on the Homeland Security center was made by the COD board in 2013.

But when hundreds of people attended a board meeting in January to protest the buyout deal, Kaye publicly called on the building to be named after Miller.

On Wednesday, Kaye said, "To do that for the Miller family is befitting."

Kaye, a veteran who lives in St. Charles, became friends with Miller when they were students at Wheaton North High School.

Miller died at 24 during a Jan. 25, 2008, battle with Taliban forces. Despite his own injuries, he continued advancing, firing and hurling grenades. He drew fire away from fellow soldiers and saved their lives. Miller was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

Reached through email on Wednesday, Robert Miller's mother said she and her husband appreciate that some in the community wish to honor their son.

"The people that Rob knew and experiences he had while growing up in DuPage County helped form him into the soldier he became," wrote Maureen Miller, adding that the family supports the resolution to name the Homeland Security building after the soldier.

Naming the building after Breuder was part of his buyout agreement. But if his contract is deemed void, officials have indicated that requirement no longer will apply.

According to the proposed proclamation on the board's agenda, the building "shall henceforth be known as the Robert J. Miller Homeland Security Education Center."

If the board OKs it, administrators will be directed "to immediately take all appropriate steps" to put Miller's name on the building and to update references to it on the school's website, in news releases, signs, literature and elsewhere.

Breuder, who is on paid administrative leave, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. COD board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton, who supports the proposal, declined to comment.

Naming the COD building for Miller would not be his first honor.

• In 2008, St. Michael Parish School dedicated the Robert J. Miller Memorial Plaza at the corner of Willow and Wheaton avenues. Miller graduated from St. Michael in 1998.

• Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 officials in 2011 renamed the commons area at Wheaton North High School as the Robert J. Miller Commons Area. Miller had attended Wheaton North.

• In 2012, the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans dedicated one of its two Wheaton facilities in honor of Miller.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican, is among those urging the board to name the building for Miller.

With state and federal investigations of COD and questions about its administrative and spending practices, Ives says Breuder's name shouldn't be on the Homeland Security building.

"His entire administration is so tainted with turmoil and multiple investigations that there's no way that he should have his name on that building," she said.

Ives said it's more appropriate to have Miller's name on the building, because he's a hero.

"We need to remember who the heroes are in our society," Ives said. "And it's not self-serving bureaucrats."

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