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Don Miller Army

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Don Miller - 1671 Views
honored by Michael Ford

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Assigned: 98th MP Battalion
Gender: male
From City: Ottoville
From State: Ohio
Current City: Ottoville
Current State: Ohio
My War Stories
  1952 (Courtesy Michael Ford, Delphos Herald). Just prior to the end of the Korean War, a young married man from this Putnam County village found himself a draftee thrust in the middle of an ethnic melting pot. However, this blended environment was nowhere near Lady Liberty’s guard post on the East coast. Don Miller, 77, was 21 years old and married when the U.S. Army knocked on his door in December 1952. After basic training and military police school, he shipped out for the South Pacific. “We got to Hawaii on Mother’s Day in 1953. Then, we went to Okinawa and I was there until I started for home on Nov. 2, 1954. I got out the day before Thanksgiving,” he said. The island south of Japan was used as a staging area for bomb raids on Korea and personnel transitioning in and out of the region. Miller says his job was to solve other people’s problems, much like a civilian police officer. However, the setting was unique. “We had all the B-29 Bombers over there at an air base; they ran raids on Korea every day or every night. We were at Camp Sukiran in the central region of the island and we were told it was the only place in the United States Army where we had jurisdiction over everybody on the island. If you came on there, I had jurisdiction over you no matter what you were. We had all kinds of Asians, Polynesians, Polish, Russian, soldiers and some people were pretty rough,” he said. The island’s law enforcement was constituted by various duties carried out by many. Miller was part of the 98th MP Battalion assigned to the Ryukyus Command. They were not alone. “We worked with the local police, the Air Police and the Shore Patrol. We did it all - we did highway patrol; we pulled stockade duty; we ran out and picked up people in the paddy wagon; we transported people from sickbay to the hospital; and we did what we called ‘prisoner chaser’ where we went out with a .45 and a sawed-off shotgun and guarded prisoners on work detail,” he said. Miller once volunteered for a mock raid and went on maneuvers “into the boondocks” on occasion. However, most of his time was spent as a police officer. He remembers a night when riot gear was needed. “We had Communists, financial people, even some of our own in the compound — everyone got in trouble. The night the war ended was when our duty officer got killed. Some airman got loose and went berserk. He stole a rifle and went down to the village. I don’t know why but he shot some ‘papason’ (a local man) but didn’t kill him. We got called down with the riot squad and he was holed up in a generator shack they used to power the town until a certain time of night. They shut down the generator and finally flushed him out but he came out shootin’. One of our guys shot him in the legs and took him down. We took him back to the compound and put him in a cage. He was court-marshaled and ended up getting hanged for killing that papason and a couple MPs that night,” he said. “I didn’t see any of the shooting but I was in the area. That’s the biggest thing that happened while I was there as far as pulling duty was concerned.” Miller said he would have stayed in law enforcement if he had been single. He also would have enlisted when his draft assignment was up but he was more interested in returning to his wife, Celesta, who passed away after 23 years of marriage and seven children. He married his wife, Monica, in 1978. “I went in there with the attitude that I had to be there and I was going to make the most of it, as well as come home in one piece. It was a good job, though, and if I had been single, I would have enlisted and stayed in law enforcement afterward. I always put myself in the other person’s shoes and didn’t walk around swirling my night stick like I was king,” he said. Miller came home and returned to work for Sylvania Electric before going to work at Ford Motor Company’s Lima Engine Plant. He also farmed until retiring in 1986.