Michael R. Lehmiller


The war on terror claimed another one of Utah's own. Sergeant Michael R. Lehmiller, 23, died Sunday in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device blew up a wooden bridge just as his convoy passed over it.

Lehmiller attended high school in Clearfield, where his father still lives. He enlisted in the Army Signal Corps in 2001, working to declassify information. When September 11th occurred, his father says Lehmiller wanted to defend his country.

Three troops were wounded by shrapnel from secondary explosions as they tried to pull the four fatal victims out of a burning Humvee.

Robert Lehmiller heard news reports on Sunday of the deaths, but he just continued his day, hoping his son wasn't one of them.

"Every day you have a routine, and it helps you get through it," he said. "You get up and you watch the news. See what's going on in Baghdad, see what's happening in Afghanistan. You go to work, because work helps get your mind off it, and you just hope it is not your son."

Lehmiller followed the same routine Sunday. "It was just like any other Sunday and the doorbell rang," he said. "When I looked up and saw the two military officers (at the door), I knew. I knew that one of the four was my son."

Michael Lehmiller was from Anderson, South Carolina, where his mother lives. He lived with his father in Clearfield briefly and attended Clearfield High School.

He enlisted in March 2001 in the Army Signal Corps, and was involved in declassifying information.

After September 11, 2001, he switched to the 82nd Airborne Division, his father said.

"After 9/11, his whole outlook changed," Robert Lehmiller said. "He had to go and defend us."

His son's commanding officer called Lehmiller on Tuesday. "He said Mike was a tremendous fighter, a great fighter to be with. You knew that your back was protected. You knew that he wouldn't leave you," Lehmiller said.

Lehmiller said his son "felt that his training and his abilities would keep him out of being killed. But he didn't want to be maimed. He didn't want to come home a shell of a person. I'm glad he didn't suffer. But I'd take him back in a minute."

He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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