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FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2007
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State soldier killed in Iraq awarded with Silver Star

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A soldier from Alabama who died after covering a grenade to protect four fellow soldiers has been awarded a Silver Star, and his father believes he also deserves the nation's highest award for military valor, the Medal of Honor.

Johnathon Millican's father, Mitchell, got the call Tuesday saying the award will be presented to Millican's widow, Shannon, at her Locust Fork home sometime in the next two weeks.

"I don't ask for no more than what a person is justified to get, you know," Mitchell Millican said. "But everyone that I've spoken to that's military ... They're all saying he deserves what I'm asking (for) because of his actions."

Millican, 20, was a member of the 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment from Fort Richardson, Alaska. He covered an enemy grenade with his body during an attack by insurgents in Karbala on Jan. 20 and was one of five U.S. soldiers killed during the attack.

Millican was off duty in a communications room exchanging e-mails with his wife when the attack started. The attackers fired several rounds into the room with an AK-47 and one of them tossed in a grenade.

Mitchell Millican said his son was on one knee facing the door "ready to shoot" at that point.

"He could just as easily have jumped behind a desk or ducked down or whatever, but he chose to cover the grenade," Mitchell Millican said. "And, to me, that shows character that's becoming."

The Army said it was a concussion grenade, designed to stun not kill its target. According to an autopsy report, Millican died from shots to the back of the head and abdomen.

U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, has asked the Pentagon to consider awarding the soldier the Medal of Honor.

The process can take months or even years, and Millican's father is willing to be patient.

"A lot of people think I'm crazy, 'cause they say, 'Well, you know, you're not mourning, you hadn't mourned your son's dying' and all that," Mitchell Millican said. "Well, you know, my son's a hero. How can you mourn that?"

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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