Andrew Miller had the carefree wit of a young man yet his integrity, his understanding of people and his depth of caring indicated he might have been an old soul. He had a winning smile and deep blue eyes that encouraged you to know, “Here is a man I can trust.”

Andrew loved playing medic when he was a kid, always having fun, getting into mischief and joking around. At age 7, camouflage netting decorated his bedroom to be followed later by posters of the Canadian Armed Forces. As Andrew grew so did his willingness to help others. He created his own first aid kit. By age 13, he took on the task to update all the first aid kits at the hotel where his mother was employed. It was only natural for this young man to one day become a medic.

One of Andrew’s interests was to find sales for, or ask manufacturers on line, for knives, flashlights and other equipment to give to his soldier friends going to Afghanistan. After Andrew died some of the manufacturers continued to make knives in his name. One Canadian knife manufacturer in particular made a one-of-a-kind knife in Andrew’s name that is valued between $5,000 and $7,000.

Andrew adored his mother and was her “protector.” When his mom was hurt, he loved fixing her up and making her better. Andrew had a saying, “we’re making memories.” This came about through a Christmas baking project with his mother, and his aunt. Andrew got caught eating cookie dough so his aunt Marita chastised him followed by a friendly “konk” on the head. He was told making Christmas goodies was a part of “making memories!” Either the saying or the good natured “love tap” connected with Andrew, as he utilized this saying on many occasions over the years.

At 14, Andrew joined cadets, where he was able to continue his love of music as a base drummer. His dad was a military man and the two spent time together at the shooting range, being in the outdoors and talking about their common interests. His father taught Andrew to sew and the two would sit and stitch numerous items to include tactical webbing. Ray tried to talk Andrew into going to college first before going into the military, but being independent and determined, Andrew recruited himself at age 16. His parents had to sign for him. At age 17 he left for basic training. When he was 18, he took his medic course in B.C., placing near the top of his class. He became a medical technician, with an eye on becoming a combat field medic. He taught (in Petawawa), Combat Casualty Care, first aid under combat situations to soldiers going to Afghanistan.

Andrew utilized his sense of humor and this endeared him to many. He had the ability to find the right words, to lighten the moment and send out calming signals during times of stress. It was the caring soul of this young man that drew people in and it was his smile and his warmth that made him unforgettable.

Andrew left this earth at a young age. On June 26, 2010, this young man gave the ultimate gift, he died for the country he loved, serving people he cared about.

Andrew wanted us to remember him and his mother Wendy honours that wish in a number of ways. She said her son loved the military; it was his love, his destiny. She always had a feeling that she wasn’t going to be his mom for long.

By: Ellie Braun-Haley

Portrait by Shairl Honey