Funeral for fallen soldier Tuesday in Newnan


Adrian Mills and fellow cadets stand tall at Northgate High at the close of presentation ceremonies from a flag in the Afghanistan war zone in 2006. From left are, front, Cody Borgstrom, Liza Dye, Cassie McDonald, Kyle Phipps, David Hunter, Vadym Strelnykov; back, John Elliott, Mills, Ian Robinson, Steven Hensley and Kenneth Rodriguez.

By W. WINSTON SKINNER The funeral for Spc. Adrian G. Mills, who was an active JROTC student at Northgate High School before entering the military, will be held in Newnan on Tuesday. Mills, 23, was killed Thursday in Kirkuk, Iraq. He was assigned to the 272nd Military Police Company, 519th Military Police Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Fort Polk, La. and was supporting Operation New Dawn.
John Daviston of McKoon Funeral Home in Newnan said Mills' funeral will be held in McKoon's chapel on Jackson Street in downtown Newnan on Tuesday at 11 a.m. Burial will follow later that day at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton. Mills was a 2007 graduate of Northgate. "He was involved -- as far as ROTC -- in just about every program we had going on," said Master Sergeant Ron Wolfe. Wolfe recalled Mills was a member of both the saber team and the color guard. In April 2006, Mills was among a group of cadets who took part in ceremonies centering on a flag from Afghanistan presented to Northgate. The flag was given by Michael Swaney, a contractor working on bases in Afghanistan, in honor of his daughter, Samantha Swaney, who was a senior at Northgate that year. The grandfather of a JROTC cadet, Kyle Phipps, crafted a wooden frame to hold the flag. The flag was flown over Northgate before being folded and put into a permanent display case. Mills was among the cadets forming an honor guard for the flag presentation ceremony in the main front hallway at Northgate. Wolfe also remembered Mills playing a key role in an outreach project Northgate's JROTC mounted after Hurricane Katrina slammed the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi. The unit collected supplies for people in the area hit by the storm. Mills' stepfather, Jeff Blehschmidt, worked with AirTran Airways to arrange for transport of 15,000 pounds of "clothing and toys and such," Wolfe said. Drinks, blankets and personal care items were also among the donations. "At that time, the closest we could get was Hattiesburg, Miss.," Wolfe said. Blehschmidt and Mills actually took the load -- on the truck provided by AirTran -- to Hattiesburg. After Mills entered the military, he was stationed in Germany. He was among the U.S. troops taking part in the 65th Commemoration of D-Day in 2009. Mills traveled to now silenced battlefields in France to honor and remember those who served in one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles in world history. Mills, and more than 1,000 service members from posts and bases throughout Europe and the United States took part. Mills was an an ammunition bearer for the Salute Battery that fired 105-mm howitzers in a 21-gun salute as part of a ceremony during the observance. "To be at Normandy honoring the sacrifice and courage of the soldiers who fought and died here is not something everyone gets to do," Mills said in a 2009 interview. "I was honored to be a part of this." During the time he was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, Mills traveled to Luxembourg as well as Germany and France. Mills died of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by insurgents using indirect fire. Kirkuk is a city in northern Iraq with some 850,000 inhabitants. Details for visitation prior to Mills' funeral are still being arranged, Daviston said Tuesday afternoon. Members of the current JROTC corps at Northgate were scheduled to visit Jeff and Marie Blehschmidt on Tuesday evening. Jeff Blehschmidt built a model of the American flag that Wolfe's wife, Rayda, covered with photos of Mills taking part in "just about everything ROTC was involved in" during his years at Northgate, Ron Wolfe said.

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