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R. Heath Mills is pinned by his father, Ralph Mills, during a recent ceremony at Blackshear Place Baptist Church. Mills was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant with the U.S. Marine Corps. - photo by For The Times

Cpl. R. Heath Mills was recently commissioned into active duty as 2nd Lt. United States Marine Corps during a ceremony at Blackshear Place Baptist Church.

More than 400 family and friends were in attendance, along with his senior drill instructor from Parris Island, teachers, professors, football coaches and pastors who played a role in his life.

Blackshear Place Associate Pastor Rick Hermann challenged Mills spiritually, to be the "pattern" when leading Marines and not a "conformist" and to always remember his first allegiance was to the Lord. Mills was sworn in by 1st Lt. Michael Vega of Camp Lejune, N.C., and received his first salute from former fellow Cpl. Justin Prestridge, who received the traditional silver dollar from Mills.

Mills is a 2005 graduate of Johnson High School, were he won accolades as a football player. On the night of his high school graduation he left for Parris Island, S.C., where he was an honor graduate of platoon 1068. Mills was assigned to Detachment 1, Ammo Co USMCR in Marietta, where he was twice promoted lieutenant corporal and corporal. He graduated from Gainesville State College in 2008, U.S. Marine Officer Candidate School in 2009 and North Georgia College & State University this year.

A reception followed the service at Blackshear Place. Mills will leave for The Basic School in Quantico, Va., in the fall.

Do you have information about family or friends who are serving in the military? Send it to Life, The Times, 345 Green St. NW, P.O. Box 838, Gainesville, GA 30501; or e-mail it to

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