MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – When veterans sign up to serve, they’re taken miles away from home, missing the familiar places they know.
Thanks to a symbol of home and a beloved football team, Navy veteran John Miller knew he always had a piece of West Virginia with him.
No matter where I’ve ever gone, I’ve always thought ‘you know, I want to go back to West Virginia’. After you’ve been to different places you realize that wherever you call home is where you really want to be.John Miller, U.S. Navy Veteran
There’s just something about the Mountain State that kept calling Miller home.
Back in my room, up on my wall, just so I came home from work and like ‘ok you know another day down. Another day closer to getting home’.John Miller, U.S. Navy Veteran
An ordinary flag hanging on his wall, became a reminder of what was waiting when he returned.
Miller served in the Navy for seven years as an aviation electricians’ mate, working on a variety of aircraft and other equipment.
Where I was at, in intermediate maintenance, I was getting all the stuff that would come off the aircraft into my shop. Try to fix them and send them back out to the aircraft to our squadrons.John Miller, U.S. Navy Veteran
His service taking him across multiple states including Illinois, Florida, California and Washington. It was from there, that Miller was eventually deployed to Osawa, Japan and Quatar.
It’s part of our jobs. We’re put in places where we don’t know if you know what could happen next. I was fortunate enough where we were working at, they had procedures in place if anything were to happen.John Miller, U.S. Navy Veteran
But, no matter how far he was from home, he could always hear the sounds of “Country Roads”.
We actually went to this little place right outside our base in Japan and it just so happened I was wearing a West Virginia ballcap, hoodie, and walked into the place. Guy came up to me and goes ‘you’re from West Virginia aren’t you?’. I’m like ‘yes sir I am’. He asked me what part and I told him and he goes ‘oh. well I’m from Parkersburg’. Turns out he was the owner of the place.John Miller, U.S. Navy Veteran
The beloved song that has become an anthem of West Virginia, became a frequent karaoke hit for Miller.
Quatar, we would have bands come out. They were asking for requests one night and I looked at one of my buddies that I was deployed with and he goes ‘wonder if they’ll sing Country Roads?’. I’m like ‘alright, next time they ask for requests we’ll yell it’. We didn’t even get a chance to get a word out and we heard the first couple notes to it.John Miller, U.S. Navy Veteran
While in Quatar, Miller wanted a little piece of home that would connect he and his comrades, a football.
So, he contacted WVU.
They went above and beyond.John Miller, U.S. Navy Veteran
What he got was a care package for his entire unit.
You guys may think it’s just a regular football, but to us, me being the only one from West Virginia, you made West Virginia fans out of people who probably didn’t even know where West Virginia was at.John Miller, U.S. Navy Veteran
As a thanks for their generosity, Miller gave the flag that he carried with him to the football team.
They proudly let it lead them onto the field this season.
Miller was discharged in June as an E-5 after serving seven years in the Navy. Now, back in Marshall County, Miller is just happy to be home.
I got a chance you know serve in the world’s greatest Navy and now I’m gonna go back and serve my community if I can.John Miller, U.S. Navy Veteran