August 13, 2012
By Sgt. Mike MacLeod
FORWARD OPERATING BASE ARIAN, Afghanistan — At a high school ski club outing, Travis Miller tried to do some “Sean White X-Games” stuff, hit his head on a rail, broke a vertebra and began bleeding internally. Fortunately, his football buddy, Greg Maguire, was there to help him down the mountain to professional care.
Six years later, the two are still watching each other’s back, now as Sgt. Miller and Spc. Maguire in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, deployed to Afghanistan’s restive Ghazni Province.
“I was so relieved, grateful and thrilled that they would be there to have one another’s back, and then to find out that they are in the same company and on some of the same missions — another sigh of relief!” said Miller’s mother, Diane Hartranft, from her home in New Ringgold, Pa.
Hartranft and her husband live just five miles from Donna and Dennis Maguire, Greg’s parents, in Orwigsburg.
In addition to football, the two boys shared little league, ski club and other sports, and hung out together all the time growing up. Maguire was in Miller’s wedding.
“When I run into someone and they ask how Travis is doing, they automatically ask how Greg is too,” said Hartranft.
Choosing the Army
Out of high school, Miller was not ready to go to college yet, he said.
“I needed some direction in my life. I wanted something different,” he said.
He signed up at the beginning of his senior year, and within a year of graduation, he was deployed to Iraq as a forward observer with the 82nd Airborne Division.
“I was so terrified, but also so proud,” said his mother.
Maguire said he joined for much the same reason, but also because he wanted to serve.
“We’re both pretty patriotic, from patriotic families,” he said.
Even so, Maguire’s parents tried to show him other options, primarily out of fear because the country was still a nation at war.
“I shared my worst fear that he could be KIA,” said his mother, Donna. “He said, ‘I understand and am willing to take that risk. Don’t you understand, somebody has to do something about those terrorists?'”
Maguire compared being in the Army to being part of a football team and felt the discipline would continue to benefit him as it had for all the years he played, she said.
His father saw the football connection too.
“They protected each other on the football field, and now they’ve got each other’s backs on the battlefield,” he said.
The surprise was how the two ended up in the same unit, the 307th Brigade Support Battalion’s Company A. Maguire is a truck driver assigned to a company of truck drivers, but Miller is a forward observer. His job is to call in artillery support to line units when they come under attack.
After a tour in Afghanistan with the 4th Infantry Division’s 704th Brigade Support Battalion, Maguire was reassigned to Miller’s brigade at Fort Bragg in late 2011. Once they deployed, Miller was attached to Maguire’s company as convoy support in case the trucks were in need of artillery or air support.
“It’s a lot easier having a lifelong friend from back home here with me,” said Miller.
The families are coordinating with their soldiers’ unit to get them on the same flight home so they can greet them together when they return to Fort Bragg, he said.