Last Updated on Saturday, 26 December 2015, 21:01 by GxMediaA young American soldier of Guyanese parentage was killed in Afghanistan on US Independence Day when his unit was attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade.
18-year old Pvt. Errol “Elijah” Duran Aster Milliard of Birmingham, Alabama leaves to mourn, among others, his father Evan Gibson.
Gibson said he learnt that his only son, a combat engineer, was killed in the city of Shewan in the Farah Province of Afghanistan when he called relatives in the US to wish them a happy Fourth of July.
“I will never ever forget July Fourth. That’s what I called America for. I called America to wish everyone and I got a worse agreement,” Gibson told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).
While Gibson lauded the US for taking steps create a safer world, his son’s death triggered a renewed call for all American soldiers to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. “Yeah because what are they really doing there? What is really the outcome of them being there? They are losing lives and you are not seeing any changes,” said Gibson.
Milliard, who always wanted to join the US Army, came to Guyana in 2010 when his father had gotten into an accident- the last time that they had seen each other.
Gibson, who speaks with a rich American accent, hopes that the US embassy will give him an opportunity to attend the funeral service.
All Alabama (al.com) reported that Milliard was posthumously promoted from PV2 to Private First Class and was awarded the Bronze Star medal, the Purple Heart and the Good Conduct Medal.
Milliard graduated from Carver High School in 2012. He is survived by his grandmother.
He arrived on active duty with the Army in 2012 and was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where he graduated with 18 others. In February, he deployed from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
He was assigned to the 595th Sapper Company, 2nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade.
Milliard’s other awards and decorations include Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary, NATO Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
In a news release, White Sands Missile Range Commander Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham requested prayers for Milliard’s family and the 2nd Engineer leaders, soldiers and families as they cope with his death.
“We are deeply saddened and hurt by the loss of Pfc. Milliard,” Bingham said. “Without a doubt, we owe him and all of our brave men and women a deep debt of gratitude for their outstanding commitment, dedication and selfless service. Each and every day, they risk their lives in the fulfilment of their missions. I want Pfc. Milliard’s family to know that our comrade, Errol, made a positive difference daily; that we value his service and ultimate sacrifice and that we will never forget him or his Family.”
A local memorial ceremony honouring Milliard is being coordinated, but details have not yet been released.