Richard Miller’s 35 Missions over Germany in WW II

With Introduction by
Larry Pearce
6/24/03 & 1/21/15

Richard O. Miller (1920- 2015) was my wife Susan’s father, and was part of an extensive project at the Pennsylvania State Historical Center in Somerset to record and preserve the experiences of area World War II veterans. Our thanks to Barbara Black of the Historical Center for her help in obtaining this transcription of Richard’s taped interview. The transcribing involved the use of outside court stenographers working quickly, writing what they think they heard and using spelling that they believed to be correct. Because of certain vocal inflections common to native Somerset County speakers, some particular spellings, and of course simple lapses of memory on the part of the interviewee, some errors have been made. I have made as many corrections in brackets as possible. In the future we hope to have audio excerpts from the recording. Richard also furnished and donated many artifacts for the World War II exhibit, including his uniform and other memorabilia. These will be displayed from time to time at the Historical Center located just north of Somerset along Rt. 985. We hope to have a hyperlink to a photo exhibit sometime in the future. What follows is the transcript of the taped interview Richard did with Carl Kahl pertaining to his time in the old Army Air Corps, the predecessor to our modern Air Force, and his experiences as a ball turret gunner in a B-17 in nearly three dozen missions over Germany:

MR. KAHL:  This is Carl Kahl and this is March the 20th, 1999 and we are at the Historical Center here in Somerset and this is the day when we are trying to document experiences of our World War II Veterans so that we have their stories on file for future use.

I have with me today Mr. Richard Miller who is going to be sharing some of the information that he has experienced during his lifetime and I would start by asking Mr. Miller if he could just tell us a little bit about his family background, grandparents, parents, that type of thing. So Mr. Miller?

MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I never saw any of my grandparents.  They were gone before I can recollect anything.  My parents were Art [Howard] P. Miller, my father, and my mother was Sara Miller.  We lived on the north side of the Quemahoning Dam in Jenner Township and  or lived on a farm and back as far as I can remember that was on the same farm all the time.

MR. KAHL:  Do you remember your grandparents’ names?

MR. RICHARD MILLER:  On my mother’s side was Frank Bear [Baer].  She was a Bear [ditto].

MR. KAHL:  Okay.

MR. RICHARD MILLER:  And my father’s side his dad was Pearson [Dibert] Miller.

MR. KAHL:  Pearson Miller?

MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah, I think I am right on that.  He is buried at Stoystown, that large cemetery.  I don’t know what the name of it is.

MR. KAHL:  Okay.  And what was your mother’s maiden name?

MR. RICHARD MILLER:  She was a Bear [Baer}.  Sara Bear [ditto].

MR. KAHL:  Okay.  Fine.  And what is your birthdate?

MR. RICHARD MILLER:  My birthdate is October 20, 1920.

MR. KAHL:  Okay.  1920.  Do you have brothers and sisters?

MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I have  there was five of us, five brothers.  I was one in the middle.  There is two older and two younger.

MR. KAHL:  Could you give me their names?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  The oldest one was Elmer [Omar] and the next one was Clyde and then myself and next was Charles and the youngest was Aldon [Alton].
MR. KAHL:  Okay.  Very good.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  There is two oldest ones that are gone now.  There is two younger than I am and I am in the middle yet.
MR. KAHL:  You are there the middle yet.  Okay.  You were the middle one.  I don’t know what to say about the middle child.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I don’t know either.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.  How about telling me what you were doing prior to the beginning of World War II?  Were you working anywhere; were you going to school; what was your situation?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, I had enough brothers at home yet and so I left the farm after I was graduated from high school in Boswell High School.  And I went to Baltimore where at that time my wife had gone  which wasn’t my wife at that time.  She was down there because she had a brother living down there and she stayed down there and then I moved down and the first job I got down there was working at Montgomery Wards store until I got a job  that was over Christmas.  I went down in the fall and I got a job then that Callards [Calvert’s] Distillery and I worked there about six months and while I was working there I went to night school to learn to be a machine operator, machinist.
I completed that course around July the first of July sometime and then I went to Glenn L. Martins, which was an airplane, aircraft manufacturer in Baltimore.  And I got a job there  the first part of July and I worked there in the experimental department on machines.  And we done work on the Mars [?], which was a C plane six engine job, the biggest made at that time and it was quite a plane.  It flew some.  Where it ended up, I really don’t know the history.  I have pictures of it at home.
MR. KAHL:  Those would be good sometime if you are coming this direction to share those picture as we make copies of them, you know, so we have them on file because it seems to me I remember a little bit about that airplane and it was a very huge, huge plane.  I am not just sure what happened to it or how they used it.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  The size of engines were pretty big because we carried oil up to it.  We put 15 gallon of oil in the one engine to test it to start it.  So what it held normally I don’t know, but that is what the 15 gallon we carried up the ladders.
MR. KAHL:  Some of the experiences you have talked about there those are sometime we could maybe go into more detail, because I am sure some of those things are interesting experiences there.  Okay.  We will continue on, then.  You were working there, then, when the war started?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, I was at home yet when Pearl Harbor.
MR. KAHL:  Do you remember?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah, that was Sunday morning.
MR. KAHL:  What were you doing?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We got it on the radio.  I was at home  I don’t remember.  It was on a Sunday morning.  I don’t know, we must not have gone to church that day.  I am not sure.  But we had the radio on.  We had a radio run by a car battery.  We didn’t have electricity in the house or did we?  I don’t know if we had electricity then or not.  No, we didn’t.  No, there was no electricity.  We had telephone but that was it.  And that is where I heard it on the radio Pearl Harbor was bombed.
MR. KAHL:  What was the feeling in your family and with yourself when you heard this news?  How did you react to that?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, I was pretty well upset.  I was figuring now what is going to happen?  What is next?
MR. KAHL:  Did at that point you have some feeling that you were going to probably be part of this war?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Not that I can recall.  I wasn’t gung ho on going as far as that goes, I just took it into stride and wasn’t too long after that why we were all  we had to sign up for the draft.
MR. KAHL:  Where did you do that?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Somerset.
MR. KAHL:  In Somerset you had to sign up for the draft?  You were what about 21 at that
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I was older than that.  Let’s see  when was Pearl Harbor?
MR. KAHL:  41.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah, I was about 21 then.  That was before I went to Baltimore.
MR. KAHL:  So you would have been prime age really for drafting, so you signed up and then what happened?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, I was required to sign up.  I didn’t do it on my own really.
MR. KAHL:  Right.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We had to sign up.  And then I went to Baltimore and worked down there.  And I was drafted while I was working at Glenn L. Martins aircraft plant.
MR. KAHL:  And how did that happen when they drafted you?  Did you get a letter, what?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah, I got a letter.  I am not sure now.  It was probably at home, but then it was transferred to me in Baltimore.  And I remember the wife said, well, if they don’t need you to work here they don’t need me either, so she quit same time I did.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  And we came home.
MR. KAHL:  You came home then?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  When did you enter the service?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  February  the last part of February of ’42.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.  And when you got the notice that you were drafted, where did they send you and how did you get there?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I came to Somerset and got on a bus and the bus took us  I don’t know  where was it now?  They took us to Johnstown or Altoona.  I don’t remember.  We got the train then and went to Indiantown Gap at Harrisburg.
MR. KAHL:  Is that where you had your training?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  That is the first  no training there, just inducted in the Army service there.  I was there for a couple of weeks, not too long, a couple weeks I would say.  And then from there we went down to Floria, Miami Beach, Florida.  That is where I took my basic training.
MR. KAHL:  You had it pretty nice?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, I will tell you when we left up here the snow was laying and it was cold.  And we shipped us  we were dressed in O.D.’S which was our winter clothing.  Until we got down on the train, we were sweating from one end to the other and it was terribly hot to us, because we were used to the winter.
MR. KAHL:  Sure.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  And we were so glad to get those off and get khakis on, which is a summer uniform.  And we lived in a motel in the front street of Miami Beach.
MR. KAHL:  Right on the ocean?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Ocean side, yes.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  And we lived in the hotels and we had our basic training, which was mostly marching and physical therapy  the calisthenics we called it.
MR. KAHL:  What was a typical day sort of like at that time, if you can sort of recall, I mean
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, they got us up about daylight or before daylight.  We went out on the beach and took our calisthenics exercise, which lasted probably oh, between 15 minutes to a half an hour.  I don’t know exactly how long it was.
MR. KAHL:  I can picture you fellows all having nice suntans within a couple of weeks probably.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yes, and probably a little sun burned maybe and then we would practice our drilling on the streets in Miami Beach.  Traffic stopped and we went straight through.  And there was quite a few of us, many groups of us going.  How many I don’t know.  And while we were down there we took I don’t know how many physicals, one after another and that is where they separated us to go Air Force, ground force or any other  in other words wherever we were physically fit for, that is where they put us.  I didn’t volunteer for anything.
MR. KAHL:  You were smart.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I think I was.  I hope so.
MR. KAHL:  Where did you end up?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, then they wanted the best physical fitness people they could get which went to the Air Force and then they grouped us together and sent me to Denver, Colorado.  There was two bases out there.  There was Larry Field and Buckley Field.  I am not sure which base I went to first.  I was at both of them three, four times in my career.  So I lot track.  My memory didn’t stick good that way.
And there we took schooling on bombs, turrets, ammunition, rifles.  I guess that covers most of it.  And how much schooling we had there, I don’t remember anymore.  I was there for a couple months anyway.  And another thing that happened while I was there  and I don’t know if this is the time or another time that I was there, we went to school from 6:00 in the evening to midnight, possibly in the morning, too, then.  I don’t remember how many times.  One thing in particular was when we came out from class at midnight, I saw a beautiful rainbow by the moon.  I never saw it in my life and I never  I don’t know if I would believe it if you would tell me or not, but I believe it now.
MR. KAHL:  I have never seen something like that.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  It was a beautiful rainbow.
MR. KAHL:  Was it raining?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  It was drizzling somewhere or it wouldn’t have been.  I don’t recall it raining right where we were.  That is one of the first things I saw when I came out of the building.
MR. KAHL:  So you are ending up in the Air Force then?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yes.
MR. KAHL:  And once you had your training there what happened?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Then I moved, they shipped me down to Las Vegas Nevada, the air field down there.  There is where we started to fly.  The first plane was an ET 6, single engine, single wing plane to get us familiar in the air.  And it was hot there.  That was about the middle of summer, about the hottest time.  And when it got hot there, it got hot, up in the hundreds or better.  And the humidity was part of one percent humidity, which is awful dry.
And I think one of the first times or the first couple times I got air sick and they said it was mostly because of the heat and I wasn’t used to the heat at that time yet.
And then the next plane was an AT 18, I believe, it was an 18.  That was a two engine plane we flew in that then and we had some gunnery practice.  I don’t believe I had any gunnery practice in an AT 6.  That was more or less familiarity to the air.
MR. KAHL:  Getting your feet off the ground.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I am not sure if we had any gunnery practice in the AT 18 or not.  It was just a little bigger plane and more of us went in it, but there was only one in the pilot in the AT 6.  And we flew around down there in the Vegas area.
And then from there we  well at the same time we were going to school, too, more schooling, schooling of all different types, electrical schooling, turret schooling, ammunition, guns, which was 50 caliber machine gun and I think we had a little bit on 30 caliber which we never used.
And we were there for, gee, I don’t remember how long we was there.  And then from there I think we went up to Dalhart, Texas, I believe, and then we flew out of there and there we had some gunnery practice there on B 17’s.  It is up in the panhandle.
MR. KAHL:  Is this your job, I will call it, on the airplane was to  was a gunner; is that
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.  And a ball turret roughly.  They put me in that position because I was small.
MR. KAHL:  And what, a ball?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  A ball turret which is underneath the plane.
MR. KAHL:  Underneath the plane?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  I don’t think I would have liked that.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, I will tell you another thing, a lot of things I didn’t like in the Army, but they could make you wish you did like it, see.  See you didn’t have much choice.  If they hollered jump, you jumped.  If they hollered sit, you sat.  And if they hollered shut up, that meant be quiet.
MR. KAHL:  Well, tell me a little bit about this ball turret.  It wouldn’t have been very large, I am sure.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I was thinking this morning about that.  I never measured it, but I haven’t seen anyone for a good while now, but I would say they were anywhere from four to five foot in diameter.
MR. KAHL:  Um hum.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  And a little more than 50 percent of it hung outside the plane, maybe 60 to 70 percent of it hung outside the plane.  It was supported by one  now there was a ring around and it was in a plane and this rode on top with rollers.  It would turn the whole way around.  In other words, 360 degrees it has.  And elevation was from zero to about, oh, a little over halfway up.
MR. KAHL:  And you ended up there mainly or for one reason because of your size?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.  I weighed roughly 135 pound then.
MR. KAHL:  They needed a small fellow to fit into that.  Okay.  Once you had that training, was it after that that you went overseas?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Oh, no, we had training yet for probably another year of it yet.  And while  it was always classroom and flying both.  It was tied together.  Every place I went there was a classroom of one type or another and we spent a lot of time in class.
MR. KAHL:  So it took from basic training then really your training took a good while?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yes.
MR. KAHL:  The schooling and everything else was there before you actually
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Oh, yes.
MR. KAHL:    went overseas?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah, that was probably a year or better, better than a year.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.  Eventually did you go overseas then?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  And where did you go?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, before we went overseas, I was in Dyersburg, Tennessee.  We had training there.  That was one of our last part of our phase training in the states and that was air to air gunnery.  They took another plane and they towed a target around and we were flying and we were to shoot at that target and anyway that was interesting and
MR. KAHL:  Was it easy to hit a target like that?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  If at first    the first run the time we went up I think or one of the times I remember we were up and we shot our ammunition practically all away and there wasn’t a hole in the target.  And when we got down there was “H” to pay.  We got reamed out.  And we went back up.  And the first pass we made we shot the target off the plane.  It was back with a wire rope to the target from the back of the plane.  We shot the target down.  They put another one out and we put holes in that, so when we came back down they said, we know you can do it; why didn’t you do it in the first place.  Of course we didn’t answer that.
MR. KAHL:  Being in this turret like you were in a small space when they were firing this weapon it would just seem to me there would have been a lot of noise.  Where would the cartridges go?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Outside.
MR. KAHL:  They went outside?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Oh, yes.
MR. KAHL:  They went outside?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We had over 1,000 rounds of ammunition in that ball, 50 caliber, two guns.  I think there was more vibration  as much vibration as what there was noise.  Yeah.  Now, going through the air took care of the noise a lot and the noise was outside from your discharge of the barrels were outside.
MR. KAHL:  True.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  They were air cooled guns was in the air, but you could heat them up and bullets came out the side of them sometimes.  I never really had any myself, but as long as you held that trigger down it kept on shooting.
MR. KAHL:  Just curious from the position you were in the airplane there, when you would take off you weren’t
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Oh, no.
MR. KAHL:  You were up on the
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Up in the air before we got into that.  I was the only position that was not entered right away when we took off.
MR. KAHL:  Once you were into your flight then that is when you would get down?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  There was only one way to get in.  That was from the plane down in on a trap door like and once you are in, that trap door was closed and latched and then you could turn  you couldn’t get out when you were in there with the guns out.  The guns were straight down when you got in, that way the door was up.  Once you was in with the guns down, you couldn’t get out of it then.  You were there.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.  I would think it would be pretty cold in there, depending on what altitude you were flying?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I didn’t mind that when we were in the states, because we didn’t fly high.  We were only a couple thousand feet.  I don’t know what our elevation was in the states here.  I don’t know.  But overseas we were up, then.  It was cold then.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.  Now, we are still all this schooling.  Was there any more schooling or when were you able to  when were you sent overseas?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We were back to Denver and I don’t know how many times I was back to Denver, two or three times, I think, but I don’t recall right.  But the last place was in Dyersburg, Tennessee and then from there we was a crew then, put together as a crew ready for combat.
And then they shipped me to Kearney, Nebraska.  That was supposed to be the, I guess they called the APO or the shipping point for overseas from there.
And we got up there and we were always taking physicals, no matter where we were and shots and I had more shots and physicals than I hate to think about anymore.
While we were in Kearney, Nebraska we were as a crew, ten men and the pilot developed ear trouble.  I don’t know the extent of it, but he was grounded for a period of time and then they said at that time our pilot or our crew was subject to breaking up  in other words, wherever they needed a fill in for anybody that was ready to get on the boat to go or to be shipped directly, we could pull from our crew.
So I was the lucky person to be the first one to leave the crew.
MR. KAHL:  Yeah, I would think you talked about the crew, I would think it would be a pretty close relationship?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We were close.
MR. KAHL:  You probably learned to know each other quite well and so if you are asked to leave and fill in
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  And while we were up there, once they broke our crew up, the pilot was disqualified for flying, we had to stay in the barracks or let somebody know where we were at all times.  If we went to the toilet, they had to know.  If we went outside to the PX, they had to know, no matter  we was not allowed to leave that building unless everybody knew where we were or somebody.
So, one afternoon a couple of us said we are going to go to the movie for a change.  So, we went to the movie and while we was in there, why I don’t know part of the movie was through and somebody called my name out.  So I got up and went back.  Two MP’s there said, You are scheduled for shipment.  I said okay.  And they stayed with me.  We went back  didn’t even go to the barracks.  Somebody in the barracks got my things together and took it to the building where they processed me through.  I was in there  they took me there and I went through that like a streak from one end to the other and they would just throwed clothes at me and took what clothes I had and they threw them out and give me all, like  maybe that is where I got  I got a lot of my new uniform there and shoes and everything.  I was fit from one end to the other.
I already had my shots and everything.  It was just clothing.  And it didn’t take very long.  That building was maybe 100 feet long or something like that or more.  I went in one end came out the other fully equipped.  I had a rain coat, overcoat.  I had a canteen.  I had a 45 on me.  I was full dress.
And from there the MP’s took me in town to the railroad station, put me on a train.  I went to Omaha, Nebraska, took me to the airport.  And while I was being processed through they were telling me this and that and when I left at the end they give me a paper  I had my records with me.  And one thing they told me, Don’t let anything leave your sight that you have here now.  In other words, they don’t check nothing.  It stays with you.  No matter where you go, if it is in a plane or train or cab or anything else, you are  everything stays with you.  Nothing leaves your sight within reach.
And they took me in and put me on the train and I went to Omaha, Nebraska and it was about 10:00 or 11:00 o’clock, maybe 9:00 to 10:00 through there sometime, I don’t even know exactly.  I was the only one in the waiting room there at the airport and there was a lady back of the desk and everytime they said, you go anyplace you take this paper and present it to the office, where you get your  what do they call it  get your ticket or whatever.
And I took it in there and showed it to her.  She looked at it and she said, Well, that plane don’t leave until, I guess an hour or something.  I don’t know what it was.  It was a good wait there.  She said to have a seat.
So I went and sat down and all I remember was going through that process.  You don’t talk to anybody.  You are going shipping.  Well, of course, you have to talk to some people.  Of course, while I was sitting there why the lady behind the desk said, you are sure of getting on this plane.  I said, Yeah?  How is that?  Well, she said you have the highest priority of travel.  She said they can take anybody off the plane and put me on.  So that was a sure ride.
And I flew from there to New York City.  I don’t know which airport.  I can’t tell you that.  I got off there.  There was two MP’s there for me.  When I got off the train or the plane, I went to the office or the counter and showed them my paper and that is where the two MP’s picked me up there and said hurry, we are going  we got the train.
So they put me in a jeep or I don’t know what it was anymore, some type of transportation.  They took me to the railroad station and had the train waiting for me.  They held the train up.  They helped me get the stuff on the train and I wasn’t more than on until the train started and that took me down to New Jersey.  I believe it was Dover.  I am not positive anymore.
And when I got there there was two MP’s picked me off the train.  Of course, my stuff was all with me.  And they  let’s see.  First they asked, Did you have anything to eat?  And I said, No, not yet.  They took me to the mess hall and they said, Feed this guy; feed the soldier.  They stayed there with me, and I got something to eat, ate it and they took me out to where the men were, crew.  There was an area there, a big area with a lot of people, a lot of soldiers there.  They were getting ready for shipping.  And I met my crew there and then the MP’s left.  I was with the crew.
MR. KAHL:  So then you were with the unit that you were
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  That I flew with.
MR. KAHL:  That you would be flying with.  Okay?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  That is the first I met them and I couldn’t  well at the time I guess I remembered some of them and that day yet we were on a ship in New York City harbor to leave the next morning  that night we left.  So there was some quick moving.
MR. KAHL:  Yeah.  It seems as though they had a real urgency to get you where they wanted you to go.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I had to be there to make that ship, that plane, that crew.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  And we left it was on an English ship.  The name was Maritani.  I don’t know if I pronounced that right something like that and someone said or I don’t know how it came up, but I can  as near as I can remember they said there was 50,000 soldiers on that one ship.  Seemed like a lot.  But it was a big  and it went across the ocean by itself.  No escort or nothing.  Just one ship.  And they would go so many seconds one way, so many seconds another way.  It just kept going kind of torpedoes.  They just kept going from one side of that ship just kept rocking like this and the day I got on it I was sick until the day I got off of it, which took I think it was seven days, seven or eight days and we were in Liverpool, England.  I got off.  And the ground was still moving when I got off.
MR. KAHL:  Took it a couple days to stop, probably.  I can appreciate that.  I have been sea sick, so I know it is a terrible feeling.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Just like some of the guys said, I don’t care if it sinks or not, don’t belong to me.  That is a feeling you get.
And when I was on there if I was lucky I slept under the table in the mess hall on the floor.  There was no room to sleep otherwise.  Sometimes I wasn’t lucky, I was on the floor other places.  I figured if I was under the table nobody was going to tramp on me and it was crowded.  And the things on the table would move with us, too.  And I wasn’t at the table too much.  I was out other places more time.  I don’t think I was ever any sicker at that time yet.
MR. KAHL:  That is a terrible feeling like I said, so I can appreciate it.  I have been that way, so I can appreciate what you are talking about.  So you were  you went to Liverpool?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  And then we got off there and I think by train.  I am not sure anymore.  They took us out to trucks and then they took us into the  now wait.  I don’t think we went  we didn’t go to the airport, I don’t believe, where we flew out of.  I don’t remember where we went exactly from there, but we ended up at what they call the wash.  It was on the northeastern side of England and there we had more training.  Air to air flying, gunnery in a B 17.  And we were there  I don’t remember anymore, anywhere from a couple weeks to a month.  I don’t remember.  And then from there we went to our base where we flew out of.  And we stayed at the base then and that is where we flew our missions.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.  So here you are now, you have had some morning training and you now have, I guess they assign you a particular airplane?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  And you have your crew and/
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  Do you  a couple of questions, I guess.  Do you remember  do you remember the names of your crew members?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Some of them.  I had a dollar bill with me with all the names on there.  They signed every name on it and after I was home I don’t know how many years why somebody was in the house and stole a coin collection we had and it was in with that.
MR. KAHL:  That is a shame.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.  That I valued more than the money.
MR. KAHL:  I would think so, yeah.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  Do you remember any of the names at all just offhand?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Lieutenant Vogel was a pilot.  The bombardier was a Lieutenant Ford.  And there was two more officers, but I can’t think of the name anymore.  And the next line was the engineer.  That was Sargent White  no wait.  The radio operator was  I think the radio operator was White.  And then waist was gunners one was Portnoy and I don’t remember the other one.  And the tail gunner was Jack Lawler, L A W L E R  something like that.  And the other names I don’t remember anymore.
MR. KAHL:  That is fine.  Did your plane have a name?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah, How Soon.
MR. KAHL:  How Soon?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yes.  They got the name because while they were training  which I wasn’t with them then, the guys would ask the crew or the pilots or the officers  there was four officers  pilot, co pilot, bombardier and navigator.  Those are the only officers.  The rest were all listed men, total crew of ten, but they would always ask the officers, how soon are we going to do this?  How soon are we going to do that?  And that is where they came up with the name they were going to put on the plane which was before my time.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.  So now you are there you have your crew and you are going to start flying your missions.
Where do they fly you?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I don’t have the record right with me now, but we went to over to France, Germany, all those countries in there.  And we had a brand new plane.  It wasn’t painted.  It was silver aluminum.  And it was a brand new one and the first mission we made, they took  I am not sure if it was our pilot or co pilot, I think the co pilot took him off of our plane and put him on another plane and we got a seasoned pilot, which had flew missions before to go in our plane, so we didn’t have a green crew.
He flew with us one or two missions.  I am not sure anymore, but he was  he knew what was coming.  He knew what was there.  We didn’t.  We were green.  That was our first mission with the new plane.
I don’t remember where the first mission was, but when we got back we had 57 holes in the plane, plus nobody got hit.  That was the main thing.  With that many holes, I don’t know why we didn’t get hit.  Somebody was with us, I guess.  And I have some flak and a piece of metal which they are taking care of here.
MR. KAHL:  That is great.  You still have that?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Now, if it is the same piece, God only knows.
MR. KAHL:  Right.  Right.
What was your feeling  what was it like to, on a first mission like that to be flying into something you didn’t know what to expect and can you recall at all the feeling that you had?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  As I can remember it didn’t seem to bother me too much because I felt it wasn’t my idea.  I was put there to do a job and I thought to myself, well, I was put here to do a job, I am going to do what I can do as best I can do it, because all of us depended on each other.  It wasn’t a one man crew.  It was a ten man crew.  I don’t know, I guess I had enough faith.
MR. KAHL:  Okay.
That and your training and your education that you had, you sound as though they had you pretty well prepared and
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We were geared up.  We were geared up.
MR. KAHL:  You were.  You were dropping bombs, that was your mission to
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  To bomb?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  On the mission  that mission or other missions, does the type of resistance you would run into, was it usually from the ground or was it from the air or
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Most of it was from the ground.  Any aircraft came up and we were very lucky, we didn’t have no direct hits or I wouldn’t be here possibly.  We had  these shells were shot up and they would explode in the air.  We had them explode close enough that it shook the plane and you could hear it explode..  And then the rest were far enough away that you could see it, a puff of smoke and fire and you never saw anything fly, because it was too small and flew too fast.
And we had good air support, which we were thankful for.  P 51, P 38, P 40, P 38, did I mention that?  There was about four different fighter planes flew with us.  P 51 want the furthest.  P 40 and P  I am kind of mixed up there but there was a couple of planes that didn’t have the range.  They flew as we were bombing France or part of Germany, western part of Germany, but we went into deeper territory which the furthest we went was Berlin.
MR. KAHL:  You did go into Berlin?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.  There we had 51’s with us.  They had the best range.  And we had no jets.  They were all propeller.  I don’t know what the range was, but the 51 with us in Berlin.
MR. KAHL:  When you go on these missions, do you recall how many  how many planes, bombers, let’s say, would you have with the B 17?  How many would you have on a flight or don’t you know?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I am not sure anymore, but we flew in pattern.  I think there was six in a group like in a triangle or    I can’t explain it right and then there was a group here and a group there and there was how many groups, I don’t know.  There was a lot of groups.  But we flew in tight formation as a group and then off to the side above us or below us was another group and there was probably dozens of groups because there was planes everywhere.  And they were all B 17′.  s.
And we flew  well before we took off, they told us when we were going to land and where we were going, what time it was going to take off and that is what it was and we were within minutes of the time we came back and landed when they told us before we left.
MR. KAHL:  Sort of amazing because you know, of course I guess they had to know the wind currents and all that, because that could all throw your time schedule off, but I guess the idea was get in and get your mission accomplished and get back out of there and get home.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  When we took off there was three planes staggered on the runway at all times to start out, revved up and every so many seconds one left loose on this side; next time one was on this side or they were staggered a little bit so they didn’t get directly in back of the other one.  Every so many seconds one plane would take off.
MR. KAHL:  What was it like  we mentioned earlier, you know, I said it might be cold.  When you started flying these missions you were probably flying pretty high.  What was the conditions like in the airplane?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, I think we had  not every time  I don’t believe  most of the time we had heated suits, which was pants, jacket, gloves, and I think the boots were, too.
MR. KAHL:  How were they heated?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Electrically, plugged into the system in the plane.  Everybody had a heated suit.
MR. KAHL:  And down where you were at, I would think it would have been particularly cold.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  It was.  I remember one mission, I am not sure which one it was, that I was in there and I was getting cold and my back was getting kind of numb because my back was almost against outside.  It was just like sitting in a barrel is what it was.  In other words, you looked out between your knees.  And your controls was up over your head like this and you looked down between and you were just in a barrel like.  That is how you sat in there  laid in there, rather, when you were down.  When you would bring the guns up straight, you were laying like on your back looking out between your knees.
But this one time I recall we were up pretty high and I don’t recall what the temperature was.  It was way below zero, maybe 30, 40 degrees.  I don’t know.  But I had my electric suit on.  We a thermostat we could turn it to what temperature we wanted.  And I had it turned up the whole way I think and I was still cold.
So, I called up to my buddies about my suit  get my leather jacket and slide it down on my back, because my back is getting too cold.  I can’t feel anything there anymore.  So I run the gun straight down.  They opened up, put my jacket down back of me.  And I went back in again and that helped.
MR. KAHL:  Yeah.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  But when I got back that day, I had burns across my knuckles from my gloves, the wires because I was on the controls like this and it was burning my knuckles and I didn’t know it until we got back and took the gloves off and I had the marks.
MR. KAHL:  The burn marks there from the heat?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Otherwise I had no other marks.
MR. KAHL:  When did you go down into the turret?  Did you  when you were getting close to your mission is that when you got down in OR did you have to go down in pretty way before that?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, we would take off, get in formation as we got to the channel, to the water and then it was time for me to get in the water.  Others were all in their position right away, shortly  I don’t know if the ball gunner  or the tail gunner.  I don’t think he was at the tail when we took off.  I am not sure.  But I was the last one to get in position.
And well I will tell you lots of times when we got in the plane, if we were setting oh, maybe, half an hour or something the engines were started up, we taxied around to get on the runway, I would lay down in the radio room, which was right in front of where my ball was.  I would lay down there and fall asleep and I even slept when they took off to get up and times I would sleep then until it was time to get oxygen on.  They would kick me and motion for oxygen.  We are getting in close 10,000 feet already, right up the North Sea to get up into Keel or Northern Germany we would go up the North Sea and I didn’t need to get in the ball until after we were up a ways and then I would sometimes  I don’t know  I think I got in the ball then and hooked up the oxygen.
MR. KAHL:  What a view you would have had on a good day.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I had all the under and contact was made by positions, not by name.  In other words, the pilot was in control and he would say ball gunner or the bomb bay doors open.  I was underneath.  I could see it.  It never went by name.  It was always position.  Waist gunner this or that.  Tail gunner this or that.  And then they would ask me, where did the bombs hit when they dropped.  And different times I had glasses to look through  what do you call
MR. KAHL:  Binoculars?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  binoculars.  They told me to take binoculars different times.
MR. KAHL:  You certainly would have had
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I had a view of everything below.
MR. KAHL:  That is interesting, but I was talking to someone the other day and I don’t know whether this could happen or not, but someone was talking the other day, but they said for some reason the bombardier forgot to open the doors.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  That is possible.
MR. KAHL:  And they dropped them and they said it just took doors right off, I guess.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Right through.
MR. KAHL:  Yeah.  Went right through them.  So it is possible you think?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  But with you at times they checked to see?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  They always checked.  That probably happened before and we were for warned, make sure the doors were open.
MR. KAHL:  I don’t remember    someone I was talking to recently they said they forgot to open the bomb bay doors.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Now, the engineer was the closest to the bomb bay doors, but he had a turret and he was occupied for protection up over top.  So they didn’t want to disturb him, leave his position to look to see if the doors were open.  So, they called me, because I was underneath.  All I needed to do was just turn the turret around and there the bomb bay doors were.
MR. KAHL:  How good a view did you really have?
(The tape apparently ended without the interviewer realizing at this point and then continued as follows:)
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Where did we leave off there?
MR. KAHL:  We were looking at the destruction that was taking place.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, then when I was in there the different tours we were on, different missions, I spotted one time  see they had a turnpike over there which they called the autobahn.  It was a highway east and west like our turnpike here and I spotted a convoy on that.  I forget which direction it was going anymore and I called to the pilot and to the crew   a little crooked here  I said there was a convoy going and they wanted to know how big it was.  And it was hard to see because we were at an altitude maybe of 28, 30,000 feet.  I don’t recall what elevation it was at that time or altitude, but I said, I counted as near as I could in the direction they were going.  Well that was recorded on the record then and we got back to briefing, which was done every time when we got back, and that was reported right away.  Probably at that time there was smaller planes sent out, dive bombers to get them.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Um hum.
MR. KAHL:  In your flight that you had, did you ever run into enemy aircraft?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yes.  We saw  at the distance I saw a lot of it.  I saw some of them being shot down.  I saw some of our bombers being shot down.  Well I better not say shot down.  It could have been from flak or from antiaircraft, I don’t know, but they went down and when it went down most of what you could hear was the crew say, Get out of that; get out of that.
MR. KAHL:  That was your crew that was saying that?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  To themselves, you know.
MR. KAHL:  That would have been terrible, I would expect to see whatever was happening a plane going I suspect at times it might have been on fire, at times they might have lost part of the plane perhaps?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Spinning.  Maybe a wing gone or just part of a plane gone.  It was rough.
MR. KAHL:  Did you ever see them getting out?  Did you see some of them get out?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We saw chutes.  That was my job.  I was down below.  How many chutes?  How many chutes?  That is what was coming to me and I could see  I would count what I could see.  That wasn’t on every mission, just some of them.
MR. KAHL:  Right.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  How many, I don’t know.
MR. KAHL:  But that is that close connection you had with those people in those other planes and you knew they were in trouble and you wanted to see them get out and concerned to see
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Regardless if I knew them or not, it was our planes.
MR. KAHL:  Right.  Okay.  Do you have any idea how many missions you flew?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  34.
MR. KAHL:  34.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, I was given two because when I started it was 20 missions, 25 I guess  yeah when I started it was 25.  While we were flying they made it to 30.  Before I got done, they made it to 35.  So every time they jacked it up five missions, they give me one, so actually I only flew  I had two given to me.  I actually only flew 32, but I got credit for 34.
MR. KAHL:  Were these missions all  did you fly them all in the same airplane or was there
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  Flew them all in the same airplane?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I did, yeah.  I think so.  I  as near as I can remember, I think they was all the same plane.  Same position I know.
MR. KAHL:  Did you ever know what happened to that airplane after the war?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  No.  I wondered.
MR. KAHL:  I would wonder the same thing.  You had a lot of
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We had one man fall off the wing, the engineer.  See he checked the plane before we took off.  It was his responsibility to check and make sure the fuel tank caps were on, different things.  I don’t know what he checked.  I am not an engineer.  But he had to check the plane different things before we took off.  That was his job.  He knew the plane, probably more so than what the pilot did.  And I think if I am not mistaken he was one that if the pilot or co pilot was injured, he took the place to carry on.  We didn’t have to do that, that I recall.
MR. KAHL:  You fly  did you fly in all kinds of weather?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yes.
MR. KAHL:  So I guess sometimes you would take off you would have bad weather, but it might clear?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Sometimes we got to the target and we had cover, in other words, cloud cover.  We didn’t see the target.  We would drop bombs anyway because they had a bomb sight, which they could detect through the clouds.  And there was only about two or three planes in a squadron that had the bomb sight.  The rest we would see the other planes dump or they would radio  I just forget how it was.  We didn’t have that.  It was a connection between the planes.  And they knew and they would all drop at one time.
MR. KAHL:  When you had your flights over Berlin the war was getting close to the end then at that point?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  That was after D Day and we flew north of Berlin to the east of Berlin and made a bomb run going directly west.  Because you had a tail wind, if I remember right.  And while we were on the bomb run through some mistake of somebody  I don’t know who  another group sifted through us from the north to the south, close to the same elevation, same altitude.
And all of the sudden possibly the pilot  I don’t know which one  said I believe it was holy hell and all of the sudden the plane went down nose dive with a bomb load to miss and as near as I know, I don’t recall if there was any accident through that or not.  I don’t recall anymore, but we went down like that and when they pulled it out, I just crumbled right down.  I had no control at all.  I was dead weight.  My head went down on the sight.  My hands come off the controls and I imagine I blacked out for a little bit.  I don’t know.
When they pulled out, I could feel the vibration.  They had the bomb load was still on yet.  We had probably about half our gas and that gas was 2800 gallon of gas that we took on for that mission.
MR. KAHL:  That would have been very frightening?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
I think that was about the worst.  Some of the times the way the flak was pretty thick, too, that was rough.
MR. KAHL:  What an experience.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  What an experience.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  One time is enough.
MR. KAHL:  Yes, I would agree with you.  And these are  you know the reasons why we need to know this  some people at times will say some of these things didn’t happen and they did happen.  The generation we have coming on needs to know and hear that these things were part of that.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  They happened.  Another time is I think should be here was D Day, June the 6th.  That is one day I will never forget.  A couple days before we walked around on the base and there was planes in the sky over England everywhere you looked.  I don’t know why they didn’t collide.  Maybe some of them did.  I don’t know.  But they were towing  what do you call these that you tow?
MR. KAHL:  Gliders?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Gliders.  They were towing gliders and everything else.  And we were walking around as buddies together and I said something is going to happen or this wouldn’t be like this.  And I think June the 6th in the morning they got us out about 1:30, 2:00 o’clock  a lot of us wasn’t even in bed yet.  I was.  I slept maybe a little bit, but they had come in the barracks and they had hollered up and at em.  Then they would start reading off which crew that was going.  They would read the crews off and you heard your crew you hit the floor and you got dressed.
And we had a short period of time to get dressed and we were outside to get on the truck.  The truck took us to breakfast.  We were lucky.  We had fresh eggs and I don’t remember what else it was.  We had good eats.  There wasn’t enough time allotted, but we had good eats when they came.
And then from there we were trucked  I think, I am not sure between the mess hall, I guess we were trucked to a briefing room.  We went to the briefing room, why there was an armed guard at each door and that right away registered on me.  I figured this is it.
And during the briefing I  why there was a general come out.  I don’t remember who it was.  And they uncovered a big map and they started explaining everything.
Now, the officers had a different briefing than what the enlisted men, but everybody was under briefing and they told where we were going and we had bombed the shore where they landed.  And we took off before dark.  We hit the water, the channel before the sun was just starting to  in other words just starting to break daylight.  We could see.  As we crossed the channel why there was more ships and boats on there than looked like flies.  We only flew, I think it was 14,000 feet  12 to 14, in that area.  I don’t remember what it was.
But as we were going over there was three or four battle ships lined up facing the broad side to the shore of France and they were shelling the shore and when their guns went off, they all went off at one time, each ship.  And it was just a puff of fire and smoke and the whole ship  we got back and made a wave.
MR. KAHL:  That much propulsion?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Force.  And there is three or four of them, I just forget.  And then we kept on going and we bombed the shore, circled around and came back to the base.  And they took us in for dinner.  We ate.  And nobody went back to the barracks.  We went right back out to the line.  And as soon as they could refuel and put bombs again, we took off the second one.  And the second one they wasn’t  wasn’t shooting the shore then as they did before, because our men was in already.  And we dropped again just a little beyond the men there at that time.  That was a scary day.
MR. KAHL:  Yes.  I can tell still has an effect on you even.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  As many years later.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  Yeah, I am sure.  Okay.  How did the  through all this how did the war end for you; how did things
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, I was done, you know something, after I was done it bothered me more.
MR. KAHL:  At that time it was a job that you had to do.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yep.
MR. KAHL:  I think what you said earlier and you did it and later you would think about it.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We were pretty jumpy later on.  We were there probably about a month before we shipped out to come home.  We came home on small boats, small ships in convoy, took us 13 days to come home, sick again.
We brought prisoners back, German prisoners.  We had more prisoners than what we had GI’s on the boat, which was kind of scary in a way.  But we had rifles loaded coming back.  We were armed.  And we were briefed different times before we got on the boat and while we were on the boat.
And I don’t remember too much about that more than they told us we were supposed to take these back to the United States, but if it is between you and I getting there, I am going to be there before they are.  In other words, we are not supposed to take too much, but we are still not supposed to shoot them unless we have to.  That was our orders.  And they said, don’t vote what I told you.  That is the orders we had.
MR. KAHL:  And so you were taking what, 13 days to get back?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Yeah.
MR. KAHL:  And where did you come back to?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We landed in New York City again.
MR. KAHL:  And were you there long?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  We had to stay on the boat until all the prisoners were off and that kind of p.o.’d us.  We were last to get off.
MR. KAHL:  And did it  from that point did it take long to go through the debriefing or whatever was involved to put you on your way home?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I don’t remember exactly how long it took us.  We had to go for some debriefing.  I think it was down to Atlantic City then and then we went home for furlough and that was probably about two weeks, I don’t know, but in the middle of the ocean it was my birthday, October the 20th, coming back.  And Thanksgiving was at the end of October, isn’t it?  31st?  Thanksgiving?
MR. KAHL:  That would be October 31st would be Haloween.  The end of November would be Thanksgiving.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Well, I was in Atlantic city on Thanksgiving  now wait maybe it wasn’t.  Anyway, it must have been Thanksgiving when I was at Atlantic City and that is where we were briefed again and given different clothing.  That is  well I went home first for  I don’t know how long I had, two weeks or
MR. KAHL:  What did home seem like after this length of time?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Good.
MR. KAHL:  I’ll bet.  I’ll bet.  Because you had been away by this time what a couple of years probably?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  No.
MR. KAHL:  It wasn’t that long?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  No, just well from  I don’t know what month we went over, but I came back  I remember when I came back.  But I went home and was there for a while.  I don’t remember how long it was, maybe two weeks or more.  I don’t know and then it was back to Atlantic City and then more briefing, because I remember there I think we was there for Thanksgiving or at least we had a big meal there and they had a table.  It was going to be 100 feet long or more, everything on that that you could mention for eating.  And we had a meal like a king and the wife was with me then and she had whatever I had.  We went through the line.  And when we came out of the line and went through why each of us got a pound box of candy, too.  And we had anything you wanted to eat and I had an ice cream  they made ice cream, I guess, there.  We had ice cream all you wanted to eat.  Any time you wanted to eat it was there.  We were treated very good.
And we had a briefing there and then we shipped out from there, we shipped to Laredo, Texas and the wife had a train ticket the same as mine.  We traveled together.  It was either three days and two nights or two nights and three days until we got to Laredo, Texas.  And that was by one car, one troop car took us a group that went to the same place.  Everybody scattered everywhere.
And we were briefed a good many  I don’t know how many times we were, physicals were took and everything else before we left there.  We was in that big convention center, I guess they call it, in Atlantic City on the boardwalk.  And that big building is where everybody  we were in there everyday and I don’t know how many days we were through.  And that is where I got grounded.  I made up my mind, I will tell you it was safer to fly overseas than it was in the states.  If a plane took off you flew them in the states.  But overseas, when you took off you knew it was going to fly.  Only one time we had to abort or run up over the North Sea and one of the fuel tanks siphoned fuel out somehow.  I don’t know how, but I saw that from underneath see.
MR. KAHL:  You could see it?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  It was coming underneath the wing.  I reported that and that all was on record then and we flew then yet.  I don’t know how long seemed like a good while.  And they had contacted the leader of our group and got so far and he said, well, you turn around and go back because you lost too much gas.  You will never return without gas.  So we come back and we had a rough briefing after that, because some trips some of the guys would cut, destroy things on the plane so they wouldn’t have to make the mission.  It was done.
MR. KAHL:  Well, that is interesting to hear.  In other words, sometimes intentionally things were
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  They cut or  they would break an oxygen line or something like that.  I don’t know what all went on.  I heard different things.  But that is  that is why when you abort a mission, you could expect trouble, really, a rough time, really.  You come back and everybody was questioned and then you were held there until the mission came back and get what the mission had information and when they come back and had the information, that cleared us.  Until then we were held.
MR. KAHL:  That is something I never thought about, you know, knowing human beings and being in situations like that, if you could do something like that.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  Some guys done that and then there were some fellows that cracked up before they were done, couldn’t take it.  They were put into other jobs, taken off the flight.  But it was pretty rough.
MR. KAHL:  We will end up here.  I know we are getting, had a long interview, a big interview.  You had a lot of interesting things to tell us.  I wish we had more time to talk.
What did you do after the war?  What was your occupation?
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  I came back and it was before  in the fall, cold weather.  And we stayed with my father in law, stayed there in the wife’s home and I got a job up in the mountain in a sawmill outfit.  I went out dragging logs in with a caterpillar and a cart or a sled in back of it and by myself doing that.  And I worked there a couple month.  I don’t know how long it was.  And then until spring, I guess, I worked there.
And then I went and got a job from a contractor, building contractor and I worked there from up until about 1949 or 50.  And the main contractor was Joe Miller at that time.  He passed away and his son took over.  As you hear quite often, when the son takes over, a business it went to pot.  And there was too much of the wrong thing going on and it went downhill pretty fast.
So I got a job with another contractor and it didn’t last too long there because I maybe had one or two checks that passed, the rest all bounced.  And I didn’t like that.
So, from there I started on my own, made my own business up, building business and I run that for 20 some years until I had arthritis too bad.  I would work some days and then I would be sick for two or three days and I told the wife, I said, that is no good.  I can’t keep going that way.
So I phased that out and kind of went in the hole there through that.  And I got into another business which was fire extinguisher business, selling and service, which is lighter work, which I had to do and I run that up until again 20 some years.  I kind of phased one into another.  I couldn’t one day off of one and the next day into something else.  I couldn’t do it that fast, but I got into the fire extinguisher business and then I had that until I retired, it was ’91 I think when I retired from that.  And I was a little over 70 years old then.  I was at the point where I figured I couldn’t do it right and I was going to quit.  I sold out to another place.
MR. KAHL:  Well, it sounds to me with all that you have been through and involved with you you deserve some time to just take off and relax.
MR. RICHARD MILLER:  In the meantime I was in building.  We built ourselves a home.
MR. KAHL:  Well, I am going to stop here, not that I particularly want to, because there are a lot of questions I still have in my mind I would like to ask you and we appreciate very much your sharing with us today this tape and so I will turn it off at this point.

2 Responses to Richard Miller’s 35 Missions over Germany in WW II

  1. David Miller says:

    A really good interview. Congratulations for publishing it. Just a few comments:

    The Martin Mars was a great big seaplane – not a C-plane, as transcribed.
    The wash, in England, is a large indentation in the East coast. To the North of it is Lincolnshire (‘Bomber County’) and to the South is Cambridgeshire. Both these areas were stiff with USAF airfields during the war. There has been a lot of research into each airfield, and the units which used them, so if anyone knows which unit he was with, there should be a lot more information available.
    The ship he travelled on was probably the Mauretania. Pre-war, that was a big passenger liner.

    I live near Cambridge, England, and was a small child during the war. I can remember seeing the B-17s coming back from raids all shot up, with engines out or smoking, and I can remember the gliders being towed over around D-day. The American military cemetery at Madingley near Cambridge is a wonderful tribute to all the aircrew who never made it back home.

    • admin says:

      David, thanks for your interest. I showed your note to Richard and he was thrilled. I may have some questions for you in the future. Thanks again, Larry

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