John H. Miller passed away Dec. 5, 2010 in Coeur d'Alene. John was born July 15, 1923 in Wallace to Wilson and Leontine Miller. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, James Miller. John grew up in and around North Idaho, and as a young man logged, worked in saw mills and the mines. But it was not until an air show came to town, and he looked up in the sky, that he found his calling at age six and knew he wanted to fly.
John enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on March 17, 1942 at Geiger Field in Spokane, Wash., beginning a highly decorated military career that spanned 33 years and several campaigns throughout three wars. Appointed as an Aviation Cadet for a short time, he returned to the ranks as a Private and began Aerial Gunnery School. Upon graduation, he served as an instructor and was promoted to Corporal. In October 1943, he was reassigned as an Aviation Student (enlisted status) to Primary Liaison Pilot School at Waco, Texas followed by other advanced training. He graduated as a Staff Sergeant Pilot on Feb. 4, 1944 and became one of the 1,155 enlisted pilots who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps throughout the rest of World War II and for several years afterward.
During a 36-day period of detached service while flying Colonels to General Oliver's tanks in his L-5 Liason Plane operating without a mechanic except for one occasion, John flew 92 hours. His aircraft was hit by only one bullet and had too many 88mm anti-aircraft rounds explode too close for comfort. John maintained his own aircraft, was forced to use Jeep gas for his fuel, and on two occasions he returned shot-down P-47 pilots from behind enemy lines to their units. He often stated that he felt this assignment was his most rewarding contribution to the war effort of World War II.
John's World War II overseas assignments included Cheltenham, England, France, Bastogne, Belgium, Maastrict, The Netherlands, and Aachen, Germany after 142 missions. His active duty ended in October 1945 and he joined the Enlisted Reserves.
John became one of the 1,800 non-commissioned officers who received a direct commission as a 2nd Lt. in the US Air Force Reserves in August 1949. While in the reserves, he attended the University of Idaho, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He was recalled to active duty for the Korean War in May 1951 as a B-29 aircraft maintenance officer in the 92nd Bomb Wing (SAC), Fairchild AFB, WA followed by career assignments to (1957) Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, (1958) Bergstrom AFB, Austin, Texas, (1963) Offutt AFB, Omaha, Neb. and (1965) Barksdale AFB, Bossier City, La.
While assigned to Bergstrom AFB, he met Ruth Annette Neel, from Laredo, Texas, who worked at the University of Texas.
In February 1964, John received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Nebraska at Omaha through attendance of night school and was promoted to Major.
In February 1967 John arrived at Headquarters, 7th Air Force, Tan Son Nhut Air Base Vietnam and was promoted to Lt. Col. in November 1967. One year later, John was reassigned to the Pentagon, Air Force Logistics Readiness Center.
John returned to Offutt AFB, Neb. in 1970 to join "Looking Glass" as Chief of the Logistics Branch with responsibility for all assigned Logistic Controllers on the Airborne Command Posts.
In March 1972, John again returned to Fairchild AFB, as the Wing Maintenance Control Officer for the 92nd BW. When the conflict in Southeast Asia ended, he was assigned in October 1973 to Headquarters, Alaskan Air Command, Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska as Director of Maintenance Engineering.
On July 1, 1975 John retired from the Air Force. His decorations include Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Liaison Pilot Wings, Vietnam Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, U.S. National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Senior Missleman Badge, Aerial Gunner Wings and the Belgium Forraguere.
Following retirement, John went into the commercial business of raising worms and sold his business in July 1979. He then obtained his real estate license and worked for Century 21. He lost sight in his left eye in 1982 and retired again. John spent as much time as possible with his wife and taking care of any and all stray animals, many of which became their beloved pets. He also spent much time at their cabin on the Coeur d'Alene River near Prichard. He often shared many of his adventures with family and friends. In 2009, the American Legion Post No. 14 in Coer d'Alene, made a short film of John telling of them.
John is survived by his wife of 50 years, Ruth Annette, his niece Christine (Dave) Anderson of Coeur d'Alene, his nephew, Steven (Roxanna) Miller of Lake Stevens, Wash., great-niece Leonel (Robert) Hoskinson of Coeur d'Alene and great-nephew Erik Anderson of Seattle, Wash.
A celebration of life was held Dec. 16, 2010 and he was buried Dec. 17, 2010 with full military honors at Washington State Veterans Cemetery at Medical Lake, Wash.
Yates Funeral Home has been entrusted with the care of final arrangements.