One of La Jolla's own, Gregory "Shortie" Nolan Millard, 22, is among the fallen, having died May 26 along with two companions in Salah Ad Din province, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.
Millard was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. He was an assistant machine gunner who came to the division in March 2005.
He was born April 29, 1985. His family began calling him "Shortie" because, when he was very young, he didn't grow - so the nickname stuck. People would ask why a 6'1" man would be called Shortie, but the family insisted "it just fit."
A family friend, writing of Shortie, said: "a great man should be judged by not always the accomplishments he has made on this earth, but by the lives they've touched in a good way and the friends they've left behind."
At Gregory Millard's funeral with full military honors held June 4 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, his brother, Jason, thanked the assemblage of 200-plus. "He was a son and a hero," said Jason Millard. "All you had to do was meet him once, and that's all it took to fall in love with him. His smile was unforgettable. He had his life taken for protecting what we love and cherish, to have what we have, do what we do and love what we love. He'll be watching us and wishing us to all aim high. If you have dreams, aim higher: That's what he would want. Honor him, not just now, but every day, take a moment, take an hour, whatever it takes to give him the honor and respect that he deserves."
Millard's fiance, Lacey Martin, talked about how proud she was of Gregory and how much he loved his family. "Greg loved his mom, Jill, so much, he loved her with all of his heart," she said. "And he couldn't show it enough ... He was so precious with her. Jason, his big brother, he looked up to you so much. He wanted to be just like you, a family man. Kevin (father) will always be Greg's hero. He had so much respect for you. All Greg wanted was to make his dad proud. He made us all proud. We're all going to miss you very much. We will never forget you."
"He was a beacon in our lives, his jokes, his friendship, his energy," said Steffen Fernandez, euologizing Millard. "He would always be there for you. It's now our job to be here for him and for each other. Thank you Greg for all you have done for us. In our memories and our love, may you live forever."
Friends and family remember Gregory Millard as being as outgoing as he was outrageous, with mischief perpetually in his eyes and on his face. His frivolity was legion. Enthusiasm was his middle name. It was said if you spent more than a minute with him, he'd have you grinning from ear to ear and half wondering which way the rug was going to be pulled out from under you. He left no one the same as he found them.