PITTSTON – A hero was honored Wednesday when the U.S. Postal Service, state police and others witnessed the Pittston Post Office renamed the Trooper Joshua Miller Post Office.
Words like integrity, bravery, inspirational, courageous and selfless were used to describe Miller, the state trooper who was gunned down on June 7, 2009, when he and other state troopers helped rescue a 9-year-old boy from a kidnapper.
Trooper Miller allowed that boy to be rescued, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, said. He was shot and shot again. He gave his life for that boy.
Barletta was joined by members of Miller's family, his friends, state police Commissioner Frank Noonan and dozens of state troopers, postal service representatives and state and local elected officials during the dedication in front of the post office on Dock Street.
Miller, a 1992 Pittston Area High School graduate, was shot and killed along a stretch of Route 611 near Tobyhanna. He and his partner, Trooper Robert Lombardo, who was shot and recovered, rescued a boy kidnapped at gunpoint from his mother.
After a lengthy car chase, police were able to stop the car of the kidnapper, who was the boy's father. As Miller and Lombardo approached the stopped vehicle, Daniel Autenrieth, of Palmer Township, Northampton County, opened fire on them. Miller was shot twice. While the two troopers returned fire, other officers were able to smash a window in the kidnapper's vehicle, grab the boy and carry him to safety.
Miller was flown to a hospital, where he died from his wounds. The troopers returned fire, striking Autenrieth eight times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Angela Miller, Josh's wife, and their daughters, Justine, Breana and Joslyn, attended the ceremony, as did Josh's mother, stepmother, sister and other family members.
The state police had a strong presence at the event, with several platoons of troopers in attendance, and a state police honor guard displaying the colors.
Noonan thanked Barletta for introducing and pushing the congressional bill approved by the House and Senate and signed by President Barack Obama.
Noonan talked about the state police call of honor, noting 94 troopers have died in the line of duty. He talked of Miller's devotion to his family and how he still inspires his fellow troopers.
All of us will die one day, Noonan said. But very few of us will have the impact on society that Josh Miller did.
Angie Miller said her husband became everything he was because of his drive and inner strength.
He never gave up, she said. He always gave 110 percent.
She said she and her daughters try to move a step forward every day.
Joshua taught us to always put one foot in front of the other – to always keep moving forward, she said. He taught us to never give up.
Miller said having the post office named in her husband's honor means everything to us. She said her hope is that people will stop and read the plaque honoring him and be inspired by her husband's life.
I no longer have the luxury of telling my husband how proud I am of him, she said. We no longer have the luxury of hearing his voice. But there are still things left behind that show the kind of person he was. He will always be a part of our daily lives. He is our inspiration and he will never be forgotten.
Miller was 34 when he died.
•The stretch of Route 611 where he died has been designated the Trooper Joshua D. Miller Memorial Highway.
•Then-Gov. Ed Rendell awarded him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
•Miller has been honored with golf tournaments, softball tournaments and motorcycle runs in his name to benefit his widow and daughters.