Birmingham solider dies in Afghanistan

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The Department of Defense says an 18-year-old solider from Birmingham, Pvt. Errol "Elijah" Duran Aster Milliard, died in Afghanistan after his unit was attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Milliard died Thursday in the Farah Province of Afghanistan. Milliard was a 2012 graduate of Carver High School in Birmingham and was on his first deployment.

The Department of Defense said Milliard was assigned to the 2nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade and was deployed from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal.

Pvt. Errol "Elijah" Duran Aster Milliard

Below is a news release from White Sands Missile Range:

A White Sands Missile Range Soldier supporting Operation Enduring Freedom died July 4.{} Pfc. Errol Duran Aster Milliard, 18, died in the city of Shewan, Farah Province, Afghanistan, when an enemy force attacked his unit with a rocket propelled grenade.{} He was assigned to the 595th Sapper Company, 2d Engineer Battalion.

Milliard, of Birmingham, Ala., was a combat engineer and arrived on active duty with the Army in 2012.{} Before coming to WSMR, he was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. graduating with 18 of his peers who arrived at WSMR with him and deployed.{}{} He deployed to Afghanistan in February 2013.{} This was his first deployment.

His awards and decorations include Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary, NATO Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.{} He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Good Conduct Medal as well as promoted from PV2 to Private First Class.

He is a graduate of George Washington Carver High School, Birmingham, Ala., class of 2012.

Milliard is survived by his grandmother.

"We are deeply saddened and hurt by the loss of Pfc. Milliard.{} Without a doubt, we owe him and all of our brave men and women a deep debt of gratitude for their outstanding commitment, dedication and selfless service.{} Each and every day, they risk their lives in the fulfillment of their missions," said White Sands Missile Range Commander Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham.{} "I want Pfc. Milliard's Family to know that our comrade, Errol, made a positive difference daily; that we value his service and ultimate sacrifice and that we will never forget him or his Family.{} Indeed, it is a very sad day for all of us here at TEAM WSMR.{} I ask that you keep Pfc. Milliard's Family and all of our 2nd Engineer leaders, Soldiers, and Families in your continued thoughts and prayers."

A local memorial ceremony in honor of Pfc. Milliard is being coordinated and details will follow at a later date.