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‘We Remember:” Galesburg post office named for fallen airman

Jane Carlson
Tri States Public Radio
From left, Senior Airman Daniel Miller's sister, April VandeVoorde; his friend, Senior Master Sergeant Bradley Kline; and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, D-17.

Fifteen years after Senior Airman Daniel Miller died in Iraq, his hometown post office was dedicated in his honor.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, D-17, presented the legislation officially renaming the post office for Miller and unveiled a plaque that will hang inside the building.

 “So let me tell you about who we are honoring here today. These are words that have been said about Daniel Miller. Always happy, always smiling. It didn’t matter who you were, Dan liked you. He cared about everyone around him,” Bustos said.

Miller was the oldest of six children. He played football on back-to-back playoff teams at ROWVA High School and graduated in 2001.

He attended Carl Sandburg before enlisting in the Air Force, where he was a bomb disposal technician.

During his six-month tour in Iraq, he went on more than 200 missions and disarmed nearly 130 improvised explosive devices.

On Jan. 7, 2007, Miller – along with Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki and Technical Sergeant Timothy were killed while attempting to defuse a car bomb in Iraq.

“Today it is my honor to commemorate the service of Senior Airman Daniel Miller with the dedication of this U-S post office here on Main Street in Galesburg, Illinois,” Bustos said.

This is the fourth post office Bustos has dedicated to fallen soldiers in the 17th Congressional District -- following Marine Lance Corporal Jordan Basteen in Pekin, Army Captain Joshua Steele in Alpha, and Army Sergeant Douglas Riney in Fairview.

“This building may bear Danny’s name, but make no mistake. By honoring the sacrifice of one service member, we are honoring the sacrifice of all,” said Miller’s sister, April VandeVoorde.

She said her brother was kind, humble, and full of compassion and love.

When they were young and new in school, he got bullied.

“But instead of allowing that experience to breed anger and hate in him, he learned compassion and empathy. By high school, he was the one standing up for others,” VandeVoorde said.

Once Miller joined the Air Force, he made surprise visits home – and he talked of buying a big plot of land where all the siblings could live, and see each other whenever they wanted.

VandeVoorde said her brother loved adventure, making his particular job a good match for him.

“In this capacity, he was able to feed his drive for adventure, but he was also able to fulfill his desire to serve and protect others,” she said.

Senior Master Sergeant Bradley Kline traveled from Washington, D.C. to Galesburg to attend the ceremony.

He was stationed with Miller at Hill Air Force base in Utah, and they made it through the challenging Naval School of Explosive Ordnance Disposal together.

Miller and Kline graduated in front of a wall of names of those in EOD killed in the line of duty, and they and their comrades made a pledge to each other.

“With that backdrop, we are told that should any of us ever join that EOD family on that wall, it is then our solemn duty for those of who remain to make it our life’s goal to make sure that we are never, ever forgotten, which is known in the community as the “we remember” pledge,” Kline said.

Kline said now his friend will be permanently remembered by anyone who comes through the doors of the Galesburg post office.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson covers west central Illinois and southeast Iowa for Tri States Public Radio.