Family Will Not Forget Bravery
By Ron Simon
The News Journal
The gentleman in the uniform is dead. He has been dead since February of 1944. That is when his B-24 Bomber went down over Austria. His body was never found.
His name was Major William Adam Miller, and his niece, Betty Will, 68, of Shelby has never forgotten him. “He was just a very kind person and I guess like all young girls, I had a bit of a crush on him,” she said.
When Mrs. Will saw a veteran’s piece we had on Roger Zimmerman on January 6th, it set her to thinking about her gallant uncle and she got in touch.
The problem is the veterans’ series is all about men still alive as a last chance to tell their stories. And Major Miller’s story has been over for such a long time, except in the minds of his nieces—especially Mrs. Will.
It is a dashing photo and a reminder of the kind of people we lose when we go to war. You are staring at the price of victory. Major Miller was ready to pay the price and we ought to honor it, even at this late date.
Mrs. Will said his father, William Cooper Miller, an engineer for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in Willard, always stayed in touch with his son’s wartime buddies. He always hoped that some evidence of his son would surface. Always the hope of the parent whose child is believed MIA.
Services for Major Miller were at the United Brethren Church in Willard in November of 1945. It wasn’t just friends and family. An account Willard newspaper said friends came from all over, including people from General Motors in Cleveland, where Major Miller worked before he joined the army in 1940. Visitors included a couple from Carey, Ohio, named Vaughn whose son had also been lost on a bombing mission a few days before Major Miller’s plane went down. In their case, their son came home after spending time in prison of war camp. No such luck for the Miller’s.
Mrs. Will also provided her uncle’s obituary. According to that William Adam Miller was born in Willard on August 9t, 1910 to William and Bessie Miller. He was a 1929 graduated of Willard High School and during the first few years of the Great Depression he entered the University of Alabama. He did well as the president of his senior class of 1934. His first job was at Plymouth High School. It doesn’t say he taught, but it mentions that his brother, E.B. Miller, lived in Plymouth.
Hard times, or not, Miller found a teaching job in Cleveland that led to work at General Motors. Mrs. Will said that at some point he married, but it didn’t last. In 1940 he joined the US Army Air Corps and was ready to flying by Pearl Harbor.
Eventually he became a Major, commanding 500 men in the 723rd Bombing Squadron, a part of the 15th Air Force in Italy. He was on his 15th and final mission when his plane went down.
He was awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and most important, the Silver Star, the third highest award for bravery and service awarded by the government. But he was gone.
He was, his death notice said, a quiet friend to all, and missed to this very day by Mrs. Will and his other nieces, Beverly Wilcox of Mansfield and Phyllis Sherk of Willard, Judy Foster of Norwalk and Evelyn Tarry of Elyria, whose husband, Jack, was also a pilot with The Flying Tigers.