Tom Miller, a local realty agent and former Franklin mayor says that on Memorial Day, “My thoughts go to those who went to war willing to give their life for their country.”
He added, “Most who went to war put their lives at risk and many did make the ultimate sacrifice.”
Miller grew up in a family that instilled patriotism and respect for those who served this country in the military. His father, a machinist mate in the Navy during World War II, saw action on Okinawa and Iwo Jima. He taught his children that those who enter the military take an oath and that oath has a special meaning that remains with them for the rest of their lives.
Miller says that when he was growing up, holidays recognizing the military — Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, were special times to remember great sacrifices.
But it wasn’t until the death of Miller’s son-in-law, Master Sgt. James “Tre” Ponder III, on June 28, 2005, that it became personal.
Ponder, seven other soldiers and eight Navy SEALs were killed when the MH-47D Chinook helicopter he was piloting was shot down by enemy combatants in eastern Afghanistan during an attempt to rescue six Navy SEALs.
“During the memorial service at Five Points, I spend time at Tre’s brick in the circle and think about the sacrifice he made,” Miller said. “He was deployed as an inspector, but when it came to rescuing the Navy SEALs, he jumped on the helicopter. That’s the nature of so many in the military. His action epitomized (the sacrifices of) so many.”