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Charleston Line Mechanic Serves as Army Guardsman

by on November 11, 2016
John Miller (right) at a weapons qualification exercise with his team leader, Aaron Clark, at the White Sands Missile Range in El Paso, Texas.

(Story by Phil Moye)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – During a nine-month stretch of his first two years as an Appalachian Power line mechanic, John Miller didn’t climb a pole, didn’t install an electric service or restore power after a storm. Instead he spent his time gathering intelligence and providing terror threat analyses — as a U.S. Army Sergeant on assignment in the Republic of Kosovo in southeast Europe.

When Miller came to Appalachian Power in October 2014, he had been part of the Army National Guard for about three years. But it wasn’t until June 2015, seven months after he began as a line mechanic-D in Charleston, W.Va., that he was called to overseas active duty.

Miller’s assignment included ensuring the safety of residents and NATO peacekeeping forces in Kosovo. He worked with people from multiple countries, including Austria, Turkey and Slovenia, to protect NATO forces from neighboring Serbs.

He and fellow soldiers relied on interpreters to converse with Kosovo residents about potential threats and infrastructure issues that needed addressed. In some cases, they were able to act on issues, such as getting a well started at a school that lacked water.

“It wasn’t a combat situation,” Miller said. “We were there to help and the people of Kosovo were glad we were there.”

This March, Miller returned to Charleston and picked up where he’d left his work as a line mechanic. “During the time away, it was great to know I had a good job waiting for me back home,” he said.

Miller said his supervisors and co-workers have been extremely supportive of his work with the Army Guard. “My supervisors work my schedule around those times I have to be away for training, and while I was overseas, people from all across the Charleston District would send care packages,” he said. “I am grateful to be part of the Appalachian Power family.”

Miller’s five-year commitment with the Army National Guard ends this December.

From → News From AEP

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