Baseball players are used to curveballs.
For former Santa Clarita resident Jacob Miller one curveball sent him to Afghanistan to serve as Marine.
Miller, a 2005 graduate from Canyon High School went from playing third base in Canyon Country to filling the same role at College of the Canyons.
Miller describes his Junior College baseball career as “good”, but wishes he could have played longer. That’s when the first of two curveballs appeared.
“I played for two seasons and then I got hurt during the off season my second year. That was kind of the make-it-or-break-it point for me at that stage,” said Miller.
Realizing school work wasn’t his “strong suit”, Miller found employment in the entertainment industry. He got work as a post-production colorist on the TV series “Desperate Housewives.”
Just as he’d settled in to a new career, Miller should have known to duck. Another curveball appeared in the form of the 2007 – 2008 Writers Guild Strike of America strike.
“When the writer’s strike came up, I was pretty much the newest guy in my particular job. So I knew when people started getting laid off I was going to be one of them,” Miller said.
At that point he had to find a new career, go back to school or do something else. Miller decided he wasn’t “mentally prepared” to go back to school and the Marine Corps was something he always wanted to join.
“My stepdad was a former marine. Basically, it was the right thing to do at the time and I haven’t regretted it one second,” Miller said.
Now, a Lance Cpl. of 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, Miller finds himself in Southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province on Firebase Fiddler’s Green.
He has traded Desperate Housewives for desperate situations.
“I’m part of QRF, which is our Quick Reaction Force. We’re on alert 24/7. So it’s constantly being ready for anything at any point in time of the day,” Miller said.
Miller and his squad stick together all day every day. They’re constantly cleaning their weapons, and keeping their trucks prepped “…so the least amount of issues possible can happen when we leave the wire.”
Leaving the wire.
Miller and his team are tasked with protection of the base whose outer layer is curtained with c-wire or razor wire.
“When we exit base that’s what we call the wire. Basically when we go in the danger zone if you will,” said Miller.
Miller says the biggest misperception about the war in Afghanistan is the soldier’s relationship with local tribes.
“Every local and national I’ve come in contact with have been more than willing to work with us and help us in any way that they can. And that just shows a lot about the people here. No matter what’s going on they’re always willing to help,” Miller said.
Miller says he’s not sure if he’s returning to the entertainment industry when his enlistment ends in 2013.
One thing for sure he’s not secretly writing a screenplay about his experience.
“I couldn’t come up with that. I mean, I’m sure I probably could, but it would be horrible,” Miller said.
One thing in his future is certain. He’s become engaged with fellow Canyon High Graduate Ashley Montoya.
“I’m not sure where my future’s going to lead. I’m keeping all my options open. Because for me and my fiancée who knows if we’re going to have a family by the time my contract’s up or whatnot. Basically I’m just trying to keep my options open,” Miller said.
Just watch out for curveballs.
According to a DVIDS (The Defense Forces Video and Imagery Distribution System) press release, First Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.