Former Brookings resident Lt. Col. Richard Oliver “Dick” Miller passed away Jan. 7, 2017, peacefully in his sleep at his home in Menifee, California. He was 91.
Flying outside the home was the flag of the U.S. Air Force.
Born in New Hampshire June 26, 1925, Dick Miller joined the U.S. Air Force in September, 1943. He was promoted to second lieutenant in 1944, and was on his way to the Philippines for the invasion of Japan when World War II ended. He was promoted to first lieutenant in 1946.
Miller attended Boston University on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1951 with a degree in chemistry. He was recalled to active duty in 1951 for the Korean War and flew 28 combat missions as part of the 19th Bombardment Group, 93rd Bombardment Squadron. Three times his aircraft received flak damage, one time injuring crew members.
In 1954, he graduated from fighter pilot school Williams AFB, Texas, and in 1955 he was assigned to Perrin AFB, promoted to captain, and appointed Flight Commander of Training Flight. He flew in Strategic Air Command exercises and was called to Alert Duty many times during the Cold War.
Miller was assigned to the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1960 and graduated with a B.S. degree in chemical engineering in 1962. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963, Miller transported U-2 film from Barksdale AFB in Louisiana to Andrews AFB in Maryland on a nightly basis.
In 1965, he was assigned to the Air Force Institute, University of Chicago, where he earned an MBA in engineering management and managerial accounting.
In 1967, he was assigned to the 463rd TAC Airlift Wing in Mactan AB, Saigon, and Tan Son Nhut AB in South Vietnam. Miller flew 238 combat airlift missions in a C-130B, often bringing home young men who lost their lives in that war. He said it was his most difficult assignment.
In 1968, Miller was promoted to lieutenant colonel and in 1970, he retired after 27 years in the Air Force, 311 bombing and combat airlift missions, and 434 air combat hours.
After his Air Force career, Miller moved his family to Oregon. He continued to serve his community as city manager of Estacada, director of Bear Creek Valley Sanitary Authority (BCVSA) in Medford, and finally manager of the Port of Brookings Harbor, Brookings. During his tenure at BCVSA, Miller helped found Special Districts Association of Oregon and served as its president from 1981 to 1984.
Though a military man, his family was by far the most important element of his life. Still treasured are letters and tapes he sent home from the various theaters of war to his wife and children. Dick and his first wife, Florence Henry, were married for 46 years, until she passed away in 1993. He and Flo had four children: Richard S. Miller, Kathryn Kersey, Jane Miller and Laurie Johnson.
In 1999, Richard married Wendy Rogers, who was his companion, traveling partner and wife until his death.
Richard is survived by his wife Wendy Miller; four children and stepson Casey Coughlin; eight grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; his brother Harold Miller and many, many friends who appreciated his direct manner, his humor, his friendship and loyalty.
To his children, “Dad was our hero, beyond any battle or war, he taught us honor and duty, how to be loyal and kind, and how to love others more than yourself.”
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to March Field Air Museum. Anyone with fond memories of Dick Miller is asked to send them via email to Jane Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by the family.