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Remembering the valor of James E. Miller

Since word got out in the air war community that I was publishing Bombing Hitler's Hometown, I have received personal stories from the relatives of several men who were on the 25 April 1945 mission to Linz. It is too late to include their stories in the book, but it is my privilege to recognize their valor here. Many thanks to Patrick Miller for sharing the following material about his father, James. Do you have a story of the 25 April mission? Email me at contact@mikecroissant.com.

 

First Lieutenant James E. Miller, 483rd Bomb Group, 817th Bomb Squadron, was a copilot on the Ken Quick crew for most of his 34 missions, but he flew as lead pilot for the last five or so, including the 25 April 1945 mission to Linz.


James E. Miller receives the DFC for valor over Austria.

Lt. Miller was a seasoned veteran by the time the Linz mission rolled around. Four months earlier, during the 31 January 1945 raid on the oil refinery at Moosbierbaum, Austria, Miller brought his B-17 and all crewmen home after sustaining heavy damage over the target. Before even arriving over the refinery, the aircraft experienced serious mechanical difficulties, leading to the loss of two engines. Lt. Miller persisted, and German flak batteries inflicted serious additional damage to his Flying Fortress. After "bombs away," Miller successfully piloted the aircraft - alone and unescorted - back to base in Italy. For his valor, Miller received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), the citation of which is below.


 

Here is Lt. Miller's account of the Linz mission in his own words from a 1993 interview with his son. He relates something new the men experienced that day - the use of phosphorus shells by the Germans. Like all who took to the air that day, he experienced something terrible and unforgettable.

 

Below is a page from Lt. Miller's mission log. For the Linz mission, he highlights "close heavy flak," a hole in the left wing, and a phosphorus flak hit in the radio room.



Here is a page from Lt. Miller's scrap book.

 

Below is a flimsy for that day, which shows the position of each aircraft in the formation. These documents are hard to come by, and this is the first instance of one from the 483rd that I've seen. I interviewed Paul Born (in aircraft 875 in the lead element), who won the DFC that day for getting his stricken bomber home. Robert Sinton (in aircraft 327) and his crew were shot down, with four killed in action. The survivors were taken into Mauthausen, the most notorious concentration camp in Austria, where they were abused. Their stories are in the book.

 

After the war, Lt. Miller left the service and received his B.B.A. in 1949 and M.B.A. in 1950 from the University of Michigan. He was employed with Saginaw Steering Gear Division of General Motors and retired as Director of Purchasing in 1986 after 34 years of service. He married Margaret Navarre in 1952, and they had four children. James E. Miller passed away in 2007 at age 84. He rests in Saint Patrick's Cemetery, Bay City, Michigan. God speed, sir, and thank you.


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