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Nov 02

Herbert Miller–WWII Memories & Bronze Star

I have finished transcribing and posting my dad’s WWII letters, a task I began a little over a year ago. Although I did not post his letters on every Friday’s blog post, there were at least 30 blog posts of letters.

I started transcribing and posting them about a month before Veterans Day 2017 and here it is, about a week before Veterans’ Day 2018.

Today I am transcribing two newspaper stories that featured my dad. Both were written and published years after his WWII service. The first piece is from the Berne Tri-Weekly News and the second probably was, too.

The first piece was published on the front page of the Berne Tri-Weekly News on 3 November 1989. This article was accompanied by this photo:

Herbert M. Miller

Miller poses in 1945
Above, Herbert Miller poses next to a Jeep used by Religious News Service in 1945. Miller used the Jeep to transport two chaplains from Paris to Germany during WW II. Miller is a resident of Chatt, O.

WWII Memories Revealed
By Tony Mellencamp, News Editor
Following is an article dealing with the upcoming Veterans Day holiday. It is one of a series to appear periodically through Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

A young man of 19, Herbert Miller of Route 1, Rockford, O., remembers vividly entering the armed service to fight for his country during WW II.

He received his infantry training in the summer of 1944, at Fort McClellan, Ala. He turned 19 in November of that year. In December he found himself on the U.S.S. Wakefield, crossing the Atlantic on a journey to the battlefields of Europe.

While on that ship he met a fellow soldier from Berne, Joe Solano, who was heading to France as a replacement soldier.

Miller joined the 84th Infantry Division, Company L, in the morning of December 24. The men landed just outside of a small Belgium town called Verdenne.

His unit attacked the town shortly after midnight on Christmas Eve. They had secured the town on the evening of Christmas Day and found themselves driven out by German counterattacks twice that day.

Over the next three days the unit fought off five more German attacks but the Americans managed to hold the town.

“From the time I arrived to fight, it was constantly cold. We were hungry and tired and we ate mainly individually packaged meals or K-rations.” Miller remembered.

He said the men were outdoors in the Ardennes 24 hours a day in temperatures of 0-20 [degrees] with knew deep snow and no overshoes. Gloves and socks were scarce. Many soldiers suffered from frostbite in the freezing temperatures.

Miller carried a Browning Auto-Rifle with a 20-shot clip, 600-800 rounds of ammunition, a half dozen grenades and a quarter pound of dynamite. The dynamite was used to help dig fox holes.

“What sleep and rest we got was in fox holes or in the snow. We never had the luxury of a bed or a house.” Said Miller.

After fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, Miller’s unit fought in Germany from the Roer River to the Elbe River.

At the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans attacked with 12 armored divisions and 16 infantry divisions. The attack occurred on Dec. 16, 1944 with the Germans having 1,000 tanks and 1,900 pieces of heavy artillery. They held five divisions in reserve. The allies had their work cut out for them.

“Prior to joining the Army, I was a sleepwalker,” Miller noted. “One night in Belgium, I went to sleep standing by a tree. When I awakened, I heard someone shout ‘halt’ and then fire two shots. Because I had a bad cold I couldn’t reply. When I heard the bullets whiz past me I dropped to the snowy ground and stayed there until daylight. That’s the last time I ever sleepwalked.”

WW II vets received a hero’s welcome upon returning to the United States after the war. Miller remembers returning and being treated like a hero.

“I am 100% behind the Vietnam Veterans. We returned from WW II as heroes but the Vietnam vet was ridiculed, ignored or treated with malice. They were fighting for our country and deserve the same treatment we received. They have ben, and still are, to some extent, treated unfairly,” said Miller.

I have seen the above article a number of times but I sure wish I knew more about the story mentioned under the Jeep photo. I do not recall my dad mentioning that he transported two chaplains from Paris to Germany.

Today’s second newspaper item, also from the Berne Tri-Weekly News:

Herbert Miller receives Bronze Star 46 years after WWII.

Miller gets medal
Herb Miller, of rural Rockford, O. poses above with a certificate and a Bronze Star. The Star was awarded to Miller about 46 years after he was discharged honorably from the Army after WWII. The certificate states that Miller performed with meritorious achievement in ground combat in the European African Middle Eastern Theater of Operations during the war. He would have gotten the award sooner but a fire caused the loss of records several years ago in an office building. Anyone who served in the armed service in WWII and have not received an award they feel they should have gotten, contact the National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, MO, 63132-5100. This is mainly for those vets who were discharged from the Army before 1960; or the Air Force before 1964 and has a last name coming alphabetically between Hubbard, James E. and Z. (Photo by Tony Mellencamp)

I remember when my dad got this Bronze Star, which, according to the article, would have been about 1992. It was the first of two Bronze Stars he received.

 

 

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