CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The director of instruction for Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools was awarded the Legion of Merit recently in a ceremony aboard Camp Johnson recently.
Lt. Col. John R. Miles of Staten Island, N.Y., was presented the award by Col. J.C. Hardee, the assistant chief of staff for Training, Education and Operations, Marine Corps Base.
Miles reported to G-5, II Marine Expeditionary Force in 1994 to serve as a regional plans officer after graduating from the School of Advanced Warfighting at Quantico, Va. He stayed there for the next six years and served as a planner, deputy assistant chief of staff and finally, as the assistant chief of staff, G-5.
"He was initially the regional plans officer for the Southern Command," said Hardee, the former chief of staff for II MEF from Clayton, N.C. "He spent six months on Joint Task Force 160 as the plans officer in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, supporting migrant operations."
The JTF was responsible for security, feeding, health and having a destructive weather plan for 40,000 migrants, according to Miles. All of these functions required long-term planning.
"Planners coordinate the activities during the development of a plan. Everything a planner does is a team effort," he said.
"The most exciting part of working in the G-5 as a planner was that on a regular basis I was involved in plans that would have elements of II MEF going off to combat or some other crisis," Miles said.
Miles later served as the regional planner for the European Theater.
"He served in this billet during a time when there was a tremendous amount of activity in the U.S. European Command and within NATO," said Hardee. "He is very well known to both U.S. and allied planners. He attained instant credibility through his diligence and professional performance of duty. He has a great work ethic. He's very intelligent and has been blessed with a great deal of common sense. He worked very hard to take care of the Marines in his section."
Miles traveled extensively in an official capacity throughout Northern Europe, specifically Norway and to the southern flank of Europe. While there, he was developing deliberate war plans in support of NATO and contingency planning in support of Bosnia and Kosovo.
"He spent a lot of time in the Balkans forming plans that might potentially involve U.S. Marines," Hardee said.
"I think that what Lt. Col. Miles brought back to II MEF was important. I think that what's much more important is what he took to Europe as a direct representative of II MEF," he said. "In the eyes of many U.S. and allied officers that he met and worked with in Europe, he represented not just II MEF but also the United States Marine Corps."
Miles took 27 trips to Europe between 1995 and 2000. Ten of those trips were to Bosnia in support of II MEF's role there as part of the strategic reserve.
"We have sent him TAD innumerable times to that theatre," Hardee said. Often times these trips were known and planned on some he had no notice. Some were for a short period of time others kept him away from his family for weeks on end.
"For a Marine to serve for six years in the same general type of billet and to maintain such a high level of performance is a significant accomplishment. On an easy day his duties were hard," he said.
"It has been a difficult six years for my family," Miles said. "It would have been very difficult to keep my focus without my family's support. It was absolutely critical and it meant the world to me."