TACOMA, Wash. - As long as he could remember, he wanted to be a soldier. He made that dream come true and in 1980, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. To say he’s an outstanding leader only scratches the surface of this soldier whose career spans more than 32 years and has included; leading troops into combat, living the Army values, enduring hardships and staying true to his real passion, the infantry.
Maj. Gen. Lloyd Miles, deputy commanding general, I Corps, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., was honored, June 22, at Watkins Parade Field on JBLM at a retirement ceremony filled with military honors and traditions such as the playing of the national anthem by the I Corps 56th Army Band, a pass in review of I Corps’ soldiers in formation and concluding with an emotional farewell from I Corps’ commander, Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti.
“You are the benchmark of what an American officer can and should be,” said Scaparrotti. “ You represent all the greatness in the United States Army and the professionalism we work so hard to instill in each of our soldiers.”
In 1996, Miles was critically injured during a live-fire training exercise while commanding the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment “Rakkasans,” 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Miles spent a year at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., recovering from several life-threatening injuries, including an amputation to his left leg. Afterward he spent another year in outpatient care.
In a memoir he wrote in 2002 entitled “Why I Stayed,” Miles reflected on his soldiers’ professionalism during that time of crisis.
“I knew I must have been in bad shape because they were working frantically to stop the bleeding from every part of my body, using their T-shirts, belts and anything they could get their hands on,” wrote Miles. “I was so proud of them; they responded the way they had been trained.”
Miles credits military leaders, his family and other injured veterans with his ability to find the strength, determination and motivations to stay in the Army. While recovering at Walter Reed, he said that retired Gen. Fred Franks provided him the information he needed to move on.
“It wasn’t until I had spoken with retired Gen. Franks that I even considered remaining on active duty,” Miles wrote in his memoir. “He had lost his leg to a grenade in Vietnam. He showed me what was possible and provided me with an inspirational example.”
Two years after the accident, Miles took command of the 1st Brigade,“Rakkasans” (the same unit where he sustained his injuries) and led them on a peace-enforcement mission in Kosovo.
Once he completed his command of the “Rakkasans,” he attended the Army War College and in 2002 took command of the 2nd (Warrior) Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (Light), Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, leading his troops on a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“The thing I am most proud of is having led soldiers in combat as a brigade commander,” said Miles. “Probably the biggest honor you can have is to lead young Americans in a difficult environment.”
In 2005, he was assigned as the executive officer to the commander of U.S. Southern Command and then served as the executive officer to the chief of staff of the Army in Washington, D.C.
From 2005 to 2009, Miles’ career path took him from the U.S. Southern Command to Washington, D.C. and then to Iraq.
Miles arrived at JBLM in 2010 where he completed his career serving as the deputy commanding general of I Corps, also serving as the I Corps (Rear) (Provisional) commanding general while the I Corps Headquarters was deployed to Afghanistan this past year.
During his retirement speech, he made sure that those who attended knew that the Army has always supported him.
“Only in this great Army can a broken soldier be given a chance to begin anew, said Miles. “I am standing here today because of the love and support I received from so many of you.”
“Family members really do carry a heavier burden than most of us wearing the uniform,” Miles said.
“We signed up for it, we volunteered, we raised our hand,” Miles added. “The familes don’t, they just get dragged into the whirlwind.”
When expressing gratitude toward his wife Betsy, Miles spoke from the heart as he looked at her while delivering sentiments of allegiance and love.
“Sweetheart, thank you for keeping me humble and for being there through the late evenings, the deployments, moving vans and missed family events,” Miles said. “You have been my strength, my confidant and my friend and I love you more than you know.”
Miles recently attended a father-son event at his 12-year-old son’s school where he said the fathers and sons were given an opportunity to say something good about one another. Miles mentioned that he thought perhaps his son Nathan would talk about him being a soldier or a general. Instead, he told everyone that his father was a terrible Xbox player.
“So Nathan, I guess you’ll have plenty of time to teach me,” said Miles looking directly at his son. “Thank you for keeping me grounded and focused on the important things in life. The proudest title that I ever had is not that of general it’s that of being Nathan’s dad and I love you son.”
Miles, his beloved wife Betsy and son Nathan are moving to Virginia and to enjoy some well-earned family time. With a little help from Nathan, perhaps Miles may even become an expert on the Xbox.