Francis Byron Mills – Colonel, United States Army

Francis Byron Mills, 90, a former Army Colonel who later directed an executive training program for postal managers, died September 27, 2005, of a stroke at his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia.


Colonel Mills, a native of Mangum, Oklahoma, entered the Army Reserve in the late 1930s after graduating from the University of Oklahoma. He was activated into the regular Army in 1941 and first served with a horse-drawn unit of the 80th Artillery Division. In 1943, he was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services.

Based in London, he worked with British and French forces in support of resistance operations in Europe leading up to the Allied D-Day invasion at Normandy in 1944. Colonel Mills landed on Omaha Beach, leading an OSS special forces detachment with the 1st Infantry Division. He coordinated French Resistance activities with operations of the 1st Army as the Allied forces moved through France.

Later in 1944, he was reassigned to China, where he commanded OSS special operations against Japanese forces north of the Yangtze River until the war ended. Resistance forces under his leadership destroyed rail lines, bridges and enemy troop trains. In 2002, Col. Mills wrote a history of this period, “The OSS Secret Wars In China.”

He was assigned to the U.S. War Office in London for two years after the war, commanding an intelligence detachment. After serving in the 11th and 82nd Airborne divisions, he was named in 1955 to a unit at Fort Bragg, N.C., that organized the Army's new special forces group.

He attended the Army War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and in 1960 became commandant of the 1st Special Forces Group on Okinawa, providing military advisers to several Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam. After additional postings in the United States, he retired in 1967.

His decorations included two awards of the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.

After his retirement from the Army, he took an assignment from the U.S. Agency for International Development and was placed in charge of the National Police Training Academy in Da Lat, Vietnam. In 1969, he was named director of the Postal Services Management Institute, an executive training program for postal managers. He retired in 1984.

Colonel Mills was a member of the OSS Society, the Special Forces Association and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

He lived in the Mantua section of Fairfax County from 1967 to 2003, when he moved to Virginia Beach. He attended Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax City.

Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Virginia Mills of Virginia Beach; two children, Cynthia A. Britt of Virginia Beach and Robert S. Mills of Fairfax County; and a granddaughter.


On September 27, 2005 at his home in Virginia Beach of a stroke. Colonel Mills was a longtime Fairfax county resident. Beloved husband of Virginia Y. Mills, father of Cynthia A. Britt and Robert S. Mills and grandfather of Katherine L. Mills. Funeral services will be held at Truro Episcopal Church, 10520 Main St. in Fairfax City on Wednesday, October 5, at 11 a.m. Interment ceremonies will be held at Arlington Cemetery on December 8, at 3 p.m.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/10/1914
  • DATE OF DEATH: 09/27/2005

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