Clearfield Man's Son Killed in Afghanistan

Clearfield Man's Son Killed in Afghanistan

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CLEARFIELD, Utah (AP) -- A Clearfield man has received word that his son was among four soldiers killed Sunday in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Michael R. Lehmiller, 23, was killed when an improvised explosive device exploded under a wooden bridge as a convoy of armored Humvees was crossing it. 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, S.C., 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 Sept. 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.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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