WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
After serving five consecutive deployments in five years, one Airman left for a sixth deployment, leaving his wife behind to care for their six-month-old child.
Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Miller, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal NCO in charge, left for a deployment to Southwest Asia Sept. 1, 2013 and returned May 1, 2014.
"It was hard," Miller said. "The day of my son's birthday, I had an American flag and held a sign that said, 'Happy first birthday Elijah.' When we went back up-range, I had set the flag up on my mirror."
As one of the EOD explosions was being detonated in the background, Miller took a photograph that had the American flag in the foreground.
"For me, it was something that I know I could pass to him saying, 'Daddy couldn't be there for your first birthday and this is why. Here you go,'" Miller said. "The next day I was able to log onto Skype and watch him smash the cake. I was happy for that."
When he wasn't communicating with his wife and son during downtime, Miller's job was to safeguard members on his team from improvised explosive devices.
"Those weapons are a danger to the lives of Service members, so we have to go out and clear them," Miller said. "The IEDs are pretty much the number one weapon of choice in Afghanistan because they are easy to place, they can be victim-operated and they can be command-detonated."
IEDs have such a lethality to them because of the explosives that are inside of the bombs and they sometimes contain shrapnel, Miller said
"It's a ruthless item and it's very impersonal, which makes it very easy to use."
Throughout his 12-year career in the Air Force, Miller has disarmed nearly 300 IEDs, possibly saving the lives of countless Service members.
During this deployment, one of Miller's responsibilities was to train Afghan soldiers on various EOD techniques as part of a coalition interoperability training mission with the Afghan National Army.
"We have trained them to the best of our abilities," Miller said. "They are starting to train their own people to become EOD team leaders and EOD operators. They're also working on their own system to get their own equipment. We are there merely to ensure that they are refining their skills."
Once Afghan soldiers receive their training, they have operational teams that can go out, respond to an IED and ensure it is not a major threat to the lives of others, said Miller.
Along with facilitating training for ANA soldiers, Miller's team also disposed of expired munitions.
"The backlog was starting to become unsafe, and they couldn't ship certain items," Miller said. "We volunteered to work very closely with the Army Ammunition Supply Point to remedy the situation."
Miller led a two-man team to dispose of 1,000 to 4,000 pounds of expired explosives each week.
One unique aspect of this deployment was the fact that there was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization partnership aligned with the coalition forces with which Miller deployed.
Although this was Miller's second deployment with NATO allies, he still had obstacles which forced him to adapt and overcome.
"I worked very closely with the Romanians," Miller said. "This time, instead of working with them on an EOD aspect, they were my security element."
Although the Romanians did things a lot differently than their American counterparts, both U.S. and Romanian forces were still able to work together to accomplish the mission, Miller said.
Overall, Miller enjoyed the deployment and doesn't mind deploying again if the Air Force needs him to, he said.
"The team of EOD technicians I deployed with was one of the best crews I've ever worked with," Miller said. "Connections make networks. The more friends you make, the better off you are in the long run."
Editor's Note: This feature is part of Whiteman's "From The Frontlines" series. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story. To read more stories, visit www.whiteman.af.mil/news/fromthefrontlines/index.asp.