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​Retired MSgt. Keary Miller was one of eight airmen whose valor awards were upgraded. Miller, shown here on the left as a technical sergeant, stands in front of an MH-47E helicopter, alongside SrA. Jason Cunningham (middle) and SSgt. Gabe Brown, about three weeks before the battle. Cunningham was killed in the battle and posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross. Brown was awarded the Silver Star for his actions that day. Air Force photo.

​Retired MSgt. Keary Miller has been awarded an Air Force Cross for extraordinary heroism in combat for his actions near Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, on Mar. 4, 2002. He is one of eight airmen whose awards were upgraded recently as part of a DOD-wide review of awards from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. He was previously awarded a Silver Star on Nov. 1, 2003. At the time of the operation, Miller (then a technical sergeant) was deployed with the Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, based in Standiford, Ky., and was operating as a combat search and rescue team leader with an Army Ranger quick reaction force, according to a press release. The mountain top of Takur Ghar was held by a group of al-Qaeda fighters, and Miller’s group was tasked with supporting a joint Special Operations Force with orders to overrun the stronghold. Seven US special operators were killed during the assault. As part of the rescue team, Miller left his helicopter in the midst of heavy enemy fire—including rocket-propelled grenade, mortar, and small arms fire—and charged through snowy terrain to reach the stranded US service members. He administered medical care, collected ammunition to distribute to other operators who were running low, and moved the wounded to conceal them from enemy fire. Miller is credited with recovering the bodies of the seven members who died that day, and with saving the lives of 10 others wounded in the action. “I would describe Keary as a dedicated pararescueman—dedicated to his craft and dedicated to the motto, ‘That others may live.’ That’s how he defined himself, and that really defines his actions that day,” said Lt. Col. Sean McLane, commander of the 123rd STS, according to the release.