WWII veteran recalls service in European Theater

WWII veteran recalls service in European Theater

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Many of us were not even born when Pearl Harbor was attacked, but that's not true for Beaumont native, Douglas Miller.

Do you remember where you were when Pearl Harbor was attacked?

"Yes, it was on Sunday and a friend of mine and I had just come out of the Jefferson Theater in Beaumont, they had the Extra newspapers out and that's the first we heard of it as we were going to catch the bus home," said Miller.

Little did Miller know, after that day, he would go on to serve in the U.S. Army and later fight in several of the war's most significant battles.
"I was at headquarters detachment and the outfit that I was in, was one that was six that were formed for beach landings. One of them went to Europe one to the Mediterranean and four to the Pacific, but it's combined forces with they call Army, Navy and Air Force," said Miller.

The U.S. Army drafted him in March of 1943.

When he met his outfit in Brooklyn, NY, he was just a few steps behind.

"When I got there they had already had their three months basic training," he explained, "I never had my 90-day basic training. They're supposed to give you two weeks vacation before you went to your outfit, I never got that."

Fast forward to the eve of June 6th, 1944.

"We landed at Omaha Beach, we left at 10 o'clock that night from South Hampton and went across and we got to the beach at 6:30 in the morning."

Miller continued, "A lot of people say were you afraid? And oddly enough I don't know how other people were, but I wasn't at all. I was looking forward to getting on the beach tell you the truth of it, me and my little 30 caliber carbine."

"Our primary job was to help remove the bodies and clear the beach so the second wave could come in," he said.

"It (the battle) lasted all day that day, until right before dark before we finally got off the beach," said Miller

Miller would turn 19 just three weeks later, and much tougher battles where still to come.

"The worst battle that I was in was in Belgium at Antwerp. At the beach, it lasted one day and was kind of nip and tuck for a few days after that, but then it moved all in," explained Miller. "But at Antwerp, we were stuck there for 10 months, with all the V-2s and the buzz bombs and everything, and we lost more men in my outfit at work then we did on the beach."

His outfit holding just 7 miles from the front line.

"Those buzz bombs, they would load them up with just enough fuel to go a certain distance and when they ran out of fuel and they came down and you could hear them going 'pop-pop-pop' going across, but when they start missing you knew they were coming down and you dived for cover."

When Germany surrendered, Miller did not have the required points to be sent home.

Like others, he then prepared to head to the Pacific.

"It was only about three or four weeks later Japan surrendered, so I did come home right after that, and I arrived back in the United States in December of 1945."

He recalled his trek back to Louisiana. "They put us on a train from New York to Tyler, Texas, Camp Fannin, and debriefed us there and give us our discharge, and then they put me on a bus to go back to Beaumont, and I got to Beaumont we didn't have cellular phones I couldn't call anybody or anything so I had to catch a taxi to get back home (laughs)."

Despite the perils of war.

"It was one of those kind of experiences that you have that you wouldn't have missed it for the world, but you wouldn't want to do again," he said. "I'm proud I was in there and I can make a difference ."

Miller earned a number of service awards, including 4 bronze stars and one bronze arrowhead.

After all these years, he still has his ETO jacket hanging in his closet.

"I've had an interesting life quite frankly my daughter keeps wanting me to write a book but I waited too long I'm so nervous I can't write anymore. (laughs)"

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