Paul C. Miller – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army

From a contemporary press report:


Combat Infantryman's Badge

Paul C. Miller, 81, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and former Chief of Ceremonies and Special Events of the Military District of Washington, died of cardiorespiratory arrest September 29, 2001, at the ManorCare nursing home in Arlington. He lived in Alexandria, Virginia.

He began his military career in the Nebraska National Guard in 1937 and was commissioned in the infantry in 1942. During World War II, he served on active duty in the Mediterranean and was taken prisoner by the Germans near the Anzio invasion beaches in Italy. He was liberated from a prisoner-of-war camp by Soviet forces near the war's end.

Colonel Miller, who began his Army career as a bugler, worked for a time in counterintelligence after World War II and served in the Korean War. When he retired from active duty in 1960, he was head of ceremonies for the Military District of Washington. He remained in that job as a civilian, retiring altogether in 1986.

A 1986 Washington Post article reporting his retirement said that Colonel Miller had directed ceremonies for every president from Harry S. Truman through Ronald Reagan. In 1985, the number of those ceremonies exceeded 8,500. These included official and state funerals, presidential inaugural events and the arrival ceremonies for visiting heads of state and government.

He helped plan and supervise the presidential funerals of John F. Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson. He also had been involved in the planning and execution of ceremonies for the national bicentennial.

Colonel Miller told The Post that every president had his likes and dislikes when it came to ceremonies. Eisenhower started the use of herald trumpets, Reagan favored a plethora of colorful flags and Jimmy Carter just seemed uncomfortable being on the receiving end of ceremonies.

Colonel Miller not only had to organize marching bands and flags, but he also had to secure the cooperation of horses, the proper detonation of fireworks and the use of such items as arctic clothing for guests at one Carter White House party — outdoors in December.

Not every ceremony came off without a hitch. Colonel Miller recalled for The Post the time the Romanian head of state arrived for a visit and was greeted by the wrong song.

“Whoops, wrong tune,” a State Department protocol officer told Colonel Miller at the time.

It turned out the band had checked out everything with the Romanian Embassy, but the embassy had neglected to inform the band that its country had a new national anthem.

Colonel Miller and the band quickly secured the proper music, “and as I recall, we played it three or four times later that day, to show we really knew,” he told The Post.

But supervising ceremonies for heads of state and other celebrities was not his only job. He said “the little soldier, with six body-bearers and a seven- or eight-member firing party and a bugler,” deserved his equal respect and attention.

His Army decorations included the Silver Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman's Badge. As a civilian, he received the Presidential Citizen's Medal and the Defense Department Civilian Service Medal.

Colonel Miller, who had lived in the Washington area since the 1950s, was born to missionary parents in Canton, China, and grew up in Lincoln, Neb. He attended George Washington University and the universities of Maryland and Nebraska.

He had been a member of Downtown Baptist Church in Alexandria for the past two years. He was a past member of Plymouth Haven Baptist Church in Alexandria, which he had attended for more than 40 years and where he had chaired the Deacons Board and had served as a Sunday school teacher and director. For 20 years, he was board president of Covenant Village, a Pennsylvania Christian retreat center that serves congregations and inner-city children from the Washington area.

Survivors include his wife, the former Marie Benzel, whom he married at Fort Myer in 1946 and who lives in Alexandria; four children, Kathy Haffamier of Atlanta, David Miller of College Park and Ann Hays and Lexie Miller, both of Alexandria; a brother, William Charles of Springfield; a sister, Mary Miller of Louisville; and four grandchildren.

MILLER, PAUL C. (Age 81)

Of Alexandria, VA, on September 29, 2001. Beloved husband of Marie B. Miller; father of Kathy Haffamier of Atlanta, GA, David Miller of College Park, MD, Ann Hays and Lexie Miller, both of Alexandria. Also survived by one brother, William Charles of Springfield and one sister, Mary Miller of Kentucky. Also survived by four grandchildren. A funeral service will be held on Friday, October 19, 2001 at Ft. Myer Memorial Chapel (new chapel) at 9 a.m. Burial will follow at Arlington National Cemetery. Donations may be made to Covenant Village, in memory of Paul D. Miller, P.O. Box 148, Flintstone, MD 21530.

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