Lt. Col. (Retired) Thomas Glen Miller, Jr., born August 31, 1925, in Cadillac, Michigan transitioned from our world into the heavenly skies above where he, in life, spent many hours pursuing his love of flight. He passed away on August 23, 2020, at the age of 94. Tom was preceded in death by his Father, Thomas Glen Miller, Sr., his Mother, Alice Hayes Miller, and his sister, Wilda Hillman. He is survived by his wife, Diane E. Miller, of 72 years, and their four children, daughter, Cyndia A. Miller, son, Thomas K. Miller (Wife, Carolyn), daughter Careen A. Pardue (Husband, Don), and son Kim W. Miller, (Wife, Connie), 7 Grandchildren and 9 Great Grandchildren.
In 1948, Tom became a Mason, and was member of the Okaloosa Masonic Blue Lodge 312 in Niceville, Florida. At the age of 17 ½ putting his senior year on hold from Cadillac High School, he enlisted in the USMC along with 3 other classmates, Tom Dillon, Durell Holland and Kenny Burridge. Tom planned to join the United States Navy, but, after meeting a Marine Recruiter and after telling him he knew Morse Code and was experienced in communications, since his Mother was a telephone operator with Michigan Bell, changed his mind and enlisted in the United States Marines. After boot camp in San Diego, CA he was shipped to the Japanese occupied island of Guam. After the successful invasion, Tom served as a Radio Communications & Intelligence specialist he helping in intercepting and breaking Japanese transmissions to determine the Japanese Navy’s positions in the Pacific Theater.
After a few weeks on Guam contracted Dengue Fever, and after being unconscious for a week, he awoke to the sound of bulldozers building the runways. His unit was later sent to North China to prepare for the American invasion of Japan, subjecting the troops to extreme cold winter conditions without any winter gear. The American troops gave them their blankets to the Chinese to make warm clothing in exchange for American cigarettes. In December, 1945, his father, Thomas Miller, Sr. passed away; Tom learned of his father’s passing via a friend’s letter from home as the Red Cross notification was never received by him. After the atom bombs were dropped, the War ended and Tom returned home to Cadillac, February, 1946. Upon returning from WWII, he and his mother Alice Miller bought back Miller’s Café/Restaurant from his Uncle Walter and his Aunt Donna Klein. While Tom was in North China, his Dad had started to build Miller’s Boat Marina on South Lake Cadillac and Grassy Dock. Tom took that over, finished the building and built the Boat Hoist that is still in use today by the Four Winns boat building company. Tom returned to Cadillac high graduating with his diploma. While in high school, he met Diane Wilson, also in high school; they dated and married in 1947. During the interim between returning home from WWII, Tom had learned to fly at Inland Lakes Flying Service attaining a commercial pilot’s license. When action started heating up in Korea in 1950, the USMC wanted him back into the Marines. Rather than return to the Marine Corps, he applied for and was accepted into the USAF Cadet Aviation Pilot Training Program, Connelly AFB, Waco, Texas. At Vance AFB, Enid, Oklahoma, he trained in the B-25 multi-engine airplane. Tom received his Wings on September 15, 1951. During his first flying assignment at Dover AFB, Delaware, in the 148th Tac Fighter Squadron learning to fly the T-33 Shooting Star jet trainer as well as qualifying to fly the F-94 Starfire. Flying the F-94 he was sent for “All Weather Certification” training at Tyndall AFB, Florida, finishing at Moody AFB, Valdosta. His next assignment was a remote unaccompanied tour in Korea for 13 months, flying the F-94 Starfire. After completing this tour, Tom returned to the 97th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at New Castle County Airport, Wilmington, Delaware, continuing to fly the F-94 on missions up and down the Atlantic Ocean eastern Air Defense Command. From there he transferred to Stewart AFB, outside of Newburg, New York where he commanded a flight of pilots training in the North American Aviation F86D Sabre single seat jet, the latest in the Air Force inventory at the time. Tom was then was assigned to the 40th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Duluth, Minnesota, flying the Convair F-106 Delta Dart for two years on missions into the airspace over Canada as a deterrent preventing ingress of Soviet bombers coming over the north pole into North America.
In 1962, Tom was again sent on another unaccompanied tour to Korea for 13 months where he flew the F-94 on missions east and west along the 38th parallel. Completing this tour, he extended to Yokota AFB, Japan, where his family joined him for the next three years. While there, because of his prior flight experience in the F-106, he transitioned seamlessly into the Convair F-102 Delta Dart, flying aerial missions up and down the Sea of Japan. He also flew as an F-102 Demonstration Pilot during one of the years’ Open House, while stationed there. From there Tom was assigned in 1965, as one of four Flight Commanders forming four squadrons in the newly established 33rd Tac Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida. Completing three months training in the F-4 Phantom at Davis Mothan AFB, Tucson, Arizona. Tom returned to Eglin as a Flight Commander in the 40th Squadron in the 33rd Tac Fighter Wing.
In the summer of 1966, Tom was sent to Ubon, Thailand, in the Triple Nickel 555 Squadron at a time in the Vietnam War, the Air Force was losing an aircraft and crew per day. On one of his 46 missions while flying the F-4 Phantom, Tom and his RO, received a call from another control agency, diverting his flight formation to respond to an emergency radio call requesting air support from a platoon of American forces being overrun by enemy forces. Soldiers in the platoon put up flares showing their locations, and the Vietnamese attackers. Tom’s F-4 dropped ordinance within five feet of the flares, ending the problem earning him and his RO, the “Distinguished Flying Cross” for this action. Returning from his first tour in Vietnam, trained pilots for certification in the front seat of the F-4 aircraft. After the 33rd Tac Fighter Wing received Colonel Chappie as the new Vice Commander, assigned Tom to be the Commander of the newly formed 4533rd Test Squadron. The squadron tested F-4 Phantoms for operational certification in preparation for further duty in Vietnam. In May, 1969, he volunteered for his second Vietnam tour, returning home on New Year’s Day, January 1, 1970. Tom also earned five Air Medals during his Vietnam tours and four Oak Leaf Clusters on his United Nations Korean Service medal and three Bronze Stars for service in other theaters. Over the course of Tom’s military career, he logged just over 4700 hours in jet fighter aircraft.
After retiring from the USAF in April, 1970, Tom began a career as the manager of the cable systems in Niceville and Crestview, Florida. He later went to work for a national cable television company building cable systems in the northeast and southern Illinois cities. Not desiring to move from the area, the City of Valparaiso engaged Tom’s skills in 1975 to design, build and manage (for over 13 years) one of the few successful municipally owned and operated cable television systems in the nation as well as one of the very few cable television systems utilizing two-way communications, for security, health related and emergency services. The Valparaiso cable system served as a Model, visited often by manufacturers and other Cable TV providers to learn how to incorporate these services in their cable system operations on a reliable basis. During the 13 years under Tom’s management, he designed a product enabling cable systems to operate more efficiently. After retiring from the City’s cable television operation, Tom continued his service to the City of Valparaiso for 16 years as a City Commissioner overseeing the city’s cable operations, roads, emergency management services, as well as negotiating contracts on behalf of the City with telephone company and microwave services. On numerous occasion he often served as Mayor Pro Tem. There will be a private grave side service with Full Military Honors at Sunset Cemetery, Valparaiso, Florida.
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