At tonight's Celebrating Freedom Rally at the Kennedy Center, President Trump honored all veterans, but told the stories of two veterans in the audience - both of whom received standing ovations from the crowd.
Harry Miller enlisted in the Army Reserve when he was just 15, then requested to be moved to active duty. Less than a year after he enlisted, he ended up in Belgium in the middle of one of the most legendary battles of the war - the Battle of the Bulge. He was soon given an assignment to "find tanks."
He and his friends found nothing but tanks - they were all over the place. Out of what spare parts they could find and out of sheer grit and resolve they somehow managed to repair three of those tanks and get them all set for action and ready to fight.
Before long those three tanks were nose-to-nose with the lead elements a German SS Panzer division. That was tough stuff. In a short time those three tanks had knocked out the first three tanks of the enemy, and the entire German division retreated. They left.
Miller remained in the Army after the war, and retired after 22 years as a Senior Master Sergeant.
Capt. Luis Avila and his wife, Claudia, were also in attendance. Avila served in the Army for 16 years and served five combat tours. Trump told his emotional story:
You did a great job, no matter where you were, no matter where you went. On his 5th deployment, Luis bravely led his company on a successful mission to recover vital intelligence. During this critical mission, his vehicle was struck by explosives. Luis was gravely wounded and lost his leg. He received a Purple Heart for his service and sacrifice. To Luis and Claudia, we will never forget the courageous sacrifice you made for all of us in this room tonight and everyone in our country. Thank you, Luis.
At the conclusion of the story, the camera turned to Luis and his wife as the audience rose to applaud and honor him. The most poignant moment of the speech was watching Luis attempt to return a salute to the crowd.
Thank you both, Senior Master Sergeant Miller and Captain Avila. As President Trump said in conclusion, we will always keep our promises to those who serve to keep us free.