The Leo ConnectionEarlier this year, Army veteran Leo Miller of Newhall urged me to interview his Army veteran daughter Jennifer McCoy, an Afghanistan war veteran, and his Marine Corps nephew who also served in Afghanistan. I interviewed them both and their wonderful stories are found on The Signal’s website under its Community and Veterans link. Both Jennifer and Leo then urged me to interview her significant other, Afghanistan war veteran Tony Miguel, and the three of us recently met at Valencia’s Corner Bakery. Here’s Tony profile.
Future Soldiers Program
Anthony M. Miguel Sr. was born at Kaiser Hospital in downtown Los Angeles, Sept. 17, 1991. Tony’s family lived in the Los Angeles area until he was 11 years old when they moved to Lytle Creek, a mountain community in San Bernardino County. He attended Carter High School in nearby Rialto, graduating at age 18 in May 2010. Tony served in his high school’s JROTC program all four years and he lettered on his school’s varsity swimming team. Tony recalls as a teenager his family was thoroughly involved in raising injured and orphaned animals such as raccoons, opossums, rabbits and birds — helping them enough to return them to the wild. During his high school senior year in November 2009, Tony signed up for the U.S. Army through its Future Soldiers program. On Aug. 23, 2010, Tony began his nine weeks of basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and then traveled to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for advanced individual training. Tony’s medical training was extensive from November 2010 through May 2011 and his military occupation specialty was changed to behavioral health specialist. 1st Armored Division Following advanced individual training, Tony was granted a two-week leave of absence to return home to his family before his assignment to Fort Bliss, Texas, joining a light infantry brigade with the 1st Armored Division. This is the same exact unit that Jennifer McCoy served with at Fort Bliss and in Afghanistan. Of Tony’s eight years of Army service, he served four and a half years assigned to Fort Bliss, though he deployed to Shank Base Camp, near Kabul, Afghanistan, from September 2011 to July 2012. While there, he served in a variety of job functions including platoon medic on infantry motorized and foot patrols seeking to eliminate terrorist fighters. Tony’s unit suffered over 100 wounded soldiers and 22 soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for freedom. Another assignment had Tony assisting Camp Shank’s mortician who prepared soldiers killed in action for returning to the United States. Tony said, “Assisting that mortician was the most gruesome job that anyone could possibly have.”
Terrorist truck bombWhile Tony was on a temporary assignment at Camp McLain, a terrorist drove a truck loaded with 1,600 pounds of explosives into the camp Dec. 3, 2011, blowing a massive hole in the ground and causing a huge mushroom cloud. That blast literally threw Tony 20 to 30 feet up and away, knocking him unconscious for a short while. Tony said, “When I came to, I was dazed and my ears were ringing as I lay almost 30 feet away. I was stunned as I tried to figure out what happened.” Some 135 U.S. Soldiers and Afghan nationals were stationed at Camp McLain and everyone there was wounded and, sadly, one local national soldier was killed. Tony’s combat tour of duty ended July 12, 2012, and following a short visit with his family he went to Fort Bliss until February 2015. Next, Tony was assigned to Stuttgart, Germany, until February 2017 when he was then assigned to provide mental health services at Fort Lewis’s stockade, until Aug. 27, 2018. While working at their Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, Tony realized this stockade was full of soldiers who had committed really stupid acts. Tony said, “Approximately 50 percent of our inmates violated the Army’s illegal drug use regulations and the others committed all types of domestic violence or had gone absent without leave.
Honorable dischargeWhile providing mental health services for stockade prisoners, Tony was assigned to interview a huge Samoan Army soldier who had gotten drunk and had participated in a violent bar skirmish with six other soldiers. This immensely large fellow ripped out a parking lot light pole and pounded those six men with it, sending them to the hospital. He was sentenced to six years in prison. Tony estimated his size at 6 feet, 7 inches, and 325 pounds. On one occasion, in order to relocate this massive soldier, Tony was required to handcuff and chain his ankles, causing Tony considerable angst. Thankfully, that was one of Spc. 4th Class Anthony M. Miguel Sr.’s last assignments before receiving his honorable discharge on Aug. 27, 2018, after eight years of honorable service.
A beautiful familyTony returned home Aug. 28 to his sweetheart Jennifer and their beautiful baby daughter McKenzie, who was born Jan. 17, and they took up sharing a home with Jennifer’s sister and her husband. Tony and Jennifer are helping them renovate their home while trading their labor for a roof over their heads all the while Tony pursues employment. Tony, just out of the Army, is also pursuing his bachelor’s degree in management. While speaking with Jennifer and Tony, with McKenzie chattering away on Jennifer’s lap, it was abundantly clear that this is one happy, loving, young family. Jennifer said, “Our plans are to marry each other as soon as possible but our timing hinges on gaining employment and financial stability. Tony and I will have our wedding ceremony at Santa Clarita’s Bridgeport Lake Clubhouse and it will be cloaked with a heavy dose of patriotism.” Tony’s two sons from a previous relationship, Anthony Jr. and Jacob Alexander, will be co-best men in their wedding while McKenzie with her cousin Lacey will be co-maids of honor. Tony explained that his boys were an inspiration for him becoming an Army soldier as he wanted them to be proud of their dad. Tony never had a real dad so this is very essential to him. Tony and Jennifer are proud U.S. Army veterans who love our great country and it’s clear that their future is blessed.