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Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue’ Helped Bring POW Patrick Miller Home on This Day

Toby Keith
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

April 13 marks a day of celebration and inspiration, and is a reminder that many men and women are still serving overseas. On this date in 2003, Private First Class Patrick Miller was rescued while being held captive in Iraq. Miller turned to Toby Keith‘s song ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue’ for strength and hope.

The then 23-year-old father of two and his fellow soldiers were ambushed by Iraqi forces, and as shots were being fired from all directions, Miller stole an Iraqi dump truck. In an interview with his hometown news station, KAKE TV-10, he says, “And that’s when I see the mortar pit behind the truck. Then they started to load and I just tried to shoot whoever had the round for the mortar. I shot eight and I ran over one. In my mind, it was either me or them and in my mind it wasn’t going to be me.”

According to reports, Miller refused to “get down” and save himself; instead, he fired shots to protect his fellow soldiers. Miller’s act of heroism kept his unit alive, but they were all taken as prisoners.

While being held captive, Miller tried to keep hope alive by singing one of his favorite Toby Keith songs, ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,’ over and over to the enemy soldiers.  In an interview with reporter Susan Peters, Miller says, “They started realizing what I was saying, and then they’d get mad and tell me to sit down and shut up.” In a happy ending, Patrick Miller and the other soldiers were rescued when Iraqi forces abandoned their posts ahead of advancing American troops.

After Toby Keith learned of Miller’s story, he made a surprise appearance at the POW’s homecoming in Valley Center, Kan. While Miller was performing his version of the song to his hometown neighbors, Keith made his way through the crowd and joined the shocked and emotional soldier onstage. After the performance, Keith asked the crowd to keep thinking of the troops still in Iraq. The patriotic country star, who has made several trips to perform in Afghanistan and Iraq, said, “We still have people fighting. People are still going over there. Some will come home, some might not come home. We don’t know yet. So please keep them in your thoughts.”

Taste of Country would also like to encourage you to continue to support our troops and their families at home with our new non-profit organization, Townsquare Cares.

See Toby Keith’s Surprise Appearance at Patrick Miller’s Homecoming on April 13, 2003

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