I have been covering the soldiers returning home from battle since the Vietnam War; some happy returning men and women and way too many sad stories.
One that particularly stands out to me is a very happy East Boston soldier returning to Logan happy and healthy from ‘Nam. We were allowed out on the tarmac to be there for the greeting.
Then there are the many sad stories of soldiers who did not return home. I was in Woburn, MA when the family of one of the last soldiers killed in Vietnam was notified of his death. I can still remember his father talking with us and his younger brother being incredibly emotional and hating everything that was happening. He later joined the Marines like his brother but ended up in a wheelchair after a car accident on the West Coast. Every time I drive into Woburn via Montvale Ave, I think of the family as I drive by their home.
There was a Green Beret from the Worcester area that was killed in the Granada Conflict. I covered the funeral where the brother of the deceased delivered a eulogy and after he got through his very painful speech he put his hands up to signal victory and said, “I did it!” He was so sad yet so proud of his brother’s ultimate sacrifice for the United States.
In the last few years between Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts there have sadly been many more funerals to cover. I’ll never forget the funeral of a female lieutenant from Swampscott and the sound of the “clop clop clop” of the horse’s hooves hitting the pavement as the white horse drawn hearse carried her to her final resting place as her boyfriend rode upfront on a bitterly cold morning.
In Leominster, the family of a soldier let us come into their home after their son’s body was brought to the local funeral home for burial and talked to us so bravely about their hero son.
There are many more memories of both happy and sad homecomings but yesterday’s meeting with the family of Lt. Scott Milley, a 23 year old soldier from Sudbury, will rank as one of the sadder homecomings I have witnessed.
Joe Roche, the assignment editor, had called the family earlier in the day. After speaking with the brother and sister of the soldier, Joe spoke with the boy’s father. Tears were soon flowing on both ends of the phone and Channel Five was invited to the family home to talk with Mr. Milley about his son.
As we were driving down their street in Sudbury, MA, I asked Jack Harper the reporter I was with what the house number of the family home was and his reply was, “Where all the cars will be.”
Sure enough, there were 15 plus cars and double that in people in the yard of the family’s home. As we walked up, I began shooting video of Stephen Milley, the soldier’s father, hugging everyone as they arrived. It was very painful to watch and listen to him greet his family and friends.
He soon spotted Jack and walked over to greet him with his arms outstretched. He was crying in a way that only a heart broken father can. He hugged Jack and then did the same to me. Through the tears the three of us shared, both Jack and I were able to express how sorry we were for his loss and express how much we wished we did not meet under these circumstances.
Although he was clearly distraught over the death of his son, Mr. Milley was proud and articulate when discussing his son. He told us Scott wanted to be a soldier from the time he was three years old. From everything he said about his son it is evident that he was a wonderful man, a great athlete, a loving brother and every parent’s dream son. Mr. Milley summed it up with one statement: “Scott was living his dream. It has now become our nightmare.”
Please see Jack Harper’s moving story via the link below.
Mr. Milley’s Uncut Speech: