This week's "Hometown Hero" is U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Jeremy Miller. With no question in his mind, Jeremy was destined to be a Marine and enlisted in 2007 after graduating from Frenship High School in 2006.
During boot camp Jeremy was selected to serve in Security Forces, protecting locations like ports and embassies. He was then selected to be in a specialized group called F.A.S.T. Company, Fleet Anti-terrorism Speedy Response Team.
"He's had several real good friends from F.A.S.T Company that have paid that ultimate sacrifice," said Peri Keefner, Jeremy's mother. "I'm a member of Marine Moms and they keep a wall of our fallen… it just breaks your heart to read those stories and to know they knew what they were doing. They believed in what they're doing."
Jeremy was deployed three times; once to Cuba and then Bahrain as part of F.A.S.T. Co. and a third to Afghanistan as part of 1/9 Company known as the "Walking Dead".
"We pretty much worked hand in hand with the Afghanistan Army trying to work them up to where they could be stable on their own feet," said Jeremy. "I was a driver, and really our biggest problem was IEDS."
While dodging IEDs on a daily basis, Jeremy's family prayed for his safe return. "I asked him did they really shoot at you?" said his mother. "He just rolled his eyes and said that's part of my job, that way I can protect y'all here. It's an incredible bundle of you're so proud of them because he volunteered; they weren't drafted and they chose to serve their country knowing they'd be in harm's way… and then at the same time you're scared to death."
While driving the dangerous terrain of Afghanistan, Jeremy's truck was hit several times with IEDs. Luckily everyone from his 1/9 Company made it home… but some of his other friends did not. "The prayers were definitely answered while we were in Afghanistan. There were many times where we should've been hit by something or I shouldn't be here. God definitely had a hand in it," said Jeremy.
Over in Afghanistan for months, Jeremy's deployment wasn't supposed to end until sometime this month, but Christmas came early. Peri's son was returning to a base in North Carolina on Christmas Eve – the best Christmas present a mother could as for.
"We were yelling Miller! Miller! We were holding up signs and he came out of nowhere. I couldn't hug him enough," said Peri.
"This was a great surprise. This is actually only the second Christmas I've gotten to spend with my family since I've been in the Marine Corps.," said Jeremy over Skype. "It really truly means a lot. It just took your breath away how much they appreciate what we did. They were there waiting for us... It brings tears to your eyes."
Jeremy's service is up October 2nd, but there is still the possibility he could be deployed a fourth time before then. Even now, Peri says Jeremy is talking about re-enlisting in Active Reserves so that he can go to college.
Jeremy is truly a hero, a hero who is thankful to have served his country. "I serve it for the people back home; all those who really support us, who help us push through deployments. I love it, I love doing it, it means a lot to be able to go over there and do something for this country," he said.
"He is always looking out for others and trying to be the best he can be for those around him. The fact that he cares so deeply about his family, his sisters, and his Marine family as well, he always puts the other person first. He is my hero, and always will be," said his proud mother.