TROY — Vietnam War veteran James E. Miller, of Troy, who was a helicopter pilot in 1967-68 during the Vietnam War, along with his son, James Patrick Miller, will be the guest speakers at the Miami Valley Veterans Museum’s (MVVM) February meeting to discuss Miller’s time as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War and the book they co-authored.
As James E. Miller’s 70th birthday approached, his son, James Patrick, decided that he wanted to write his father’s story as a birthday gift. The two co-authored and published “Warrior Two Six: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot’s Story,” which details his deployment to Vietnam.
Similarly to many veterans, sharing the stories of his time in Vietnam was hard. According to Miller, recounting the events often felt like reliving them and made the writing process very difficult. It took the two 10 years to finish and publish “Warrior Two Six: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot’s Story.”
Miller was active in the U.S. Army from December 1965 until he was honorably discharged in December 1969. Miller’s story starts two years after graduating from Poland Seminary High School in 1963. He was in college at Bowling Green State University when he received the letter drafting him into the army during the Vietnam War. Rather than being drafted into the Army for two years, he chose to enlist in Warrant Officer Rotary Wing Aviation Course for four years.
Miller went on to basic training at Fort Polk in Louisiana for eight weeks before heading to Primary Helicopter Flight School at Fort Wolters in Texas. After graduating from the primary flight school, he was sent to Fort Rucker in Alabama. There Miller learned to fly basic training helicopters and then the Huey helicopter (UH-1D) and the specific skills necessary in Vietnam. After the multiple stages of training, Miller was given a 30-day leave to go home, and then at age 21, in February 1967, Miller was off to Vietnam.
Miller recounted some of his experiences in Vietnam, from resupplying different bases and meeting famous actors, to him and his team being shot down in their helicopter.
“We were there to stem communism. I believed that then, and I still believe it,” Miller said of the Vietnam War. “In Vietnam, it was like nothing we’d ever done. In World War II, there was a front line, in Vietnam, the enemy was everywhere. We were always on alert, could never let down, for if we did, the enemy would strike. We were shot at every day.”
Miller recounted a day him and his crew were running supplies to outposts when they were called in to provide support to a nearby base that was being over-run. According to Miller the helicopter only took one bullet which caused the single engine to fail. Luckily, Miller knew of a nearby Green Berets post and radioed them to let them know he would be crash-landing as close to their base as he could get. He managed to safely land the helicopter just between an empty field and the base, only to find out later the empty field he narrowly missed was actually the base’s mine field.
The book, “Warrior Two Six: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot’s Story,” written with the help of his son, portrays similar experiences in Vietnam from Miller and his crew.
During his four years in the Army, Miller was honored with multiple awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Army Commendation Medal.
“Vivian is a real supporter of the veterans. Basically, she doesn’t want to lose that history. In other words, too many veterans are very reluctant to talk about their service, and I don’t know what you know about the Vietnam War, but when we came back we were treated horribly,” said Miller.
According to Miller, Vivian Blevins, program director for MVVM, specifically invited him and his son to speak to hopefully encourage other veterans to share their experiences to help maintain this first-person aspect of history.
The Museum’s monthly meeting will be held on Feb. 1, at 9 a.m. The meeting is open to veterans and friends and families of veterans. Miller’s book will be available for purchase for $15. Refreshments are available beginning at 8:45 a.m. at the museum, located at 2245 S. County Road 25A in Troy.