MILAM, RONALD D., MAJOR, U.S.Army
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, of Brandywine, Maryland. Beloved husband of Jacqueline F. Milam; father of Myejoi O. Milam and Ronald D. Milam, Jr.; devoted son of Tommie and Effie Milam; dear brother of Steven and Stephanie Milam. Also survived by aunts, uncles, niece, nephew, cousins, and a host of friends.
Visitation will be held at LEE FUNERAL HOME, Branch Avenue and Coventry Way, Clinton, Maryland, on Friday, September 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Service will be held at Fort Myer Chapel, Fort Myer, VA, on Saturday, September 29, at 9 a.m. Interment Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors.
She lives day by day caring for her children with trust in God
by Staff Sgt. A.J. Bosker
Photos by Tech. Sgt. Jim Varhegyi
Day by day, minute by minute, Captain Jacqueline Milam’s life has become remarkably focused and yet incredibly demanding. A single parent with two young children, she balances the challenges of maintaining a healthy living environment for them with the rigors of a career as an Air Force officer.
But, she says maybe it’s better that way, that perhaps she’s fortunate for the many trials which keep her mind occupied. Maybe she’s fortunate for the little twists and turns that divert her mind from the events of early September.
Day by day. That’s how the 34-year-old Whitecastle, Louisiana, native has been living since Sept. 11, when terrorists crashed an airliner into the Pentagon, killing her husband, Ronald, and 189 others.
The Captain was five months pregnant, and the day began as most others. She was assigned to the Air Force long-range plans division at the Pentagon and was busy checking e-mails when she heard noise coming from the office conference room.
“As soon as I walked into the room, I saw the second plane fly into the second World Trade Center tower [on TV],” she said. “I knew it had to be intentional, so I left and immediately called Ronald, and asked if he had seen what was happening in New York. He hadn’t. Ronald did say that he was going to look for a television and that he would talk to me later.”
She hung up the phone not knowing that Ronald, an Army Major, wouldn’t be able to keep that promise, and that it was the last time she would ever talk to him.
“I went back to reading my e-mail when Flight 77 hit the Pentagon,” she said. “I heard the impact, but I didn’t think it was a plane because of the construction that was taking place outside my office.”
As she and co-workers evacuated the building, she grabbed a few items and left, still not thinking anything was wrong. Yet on her way out, she heard someone say a plane had hit the Pentagon. She got out of the building safely, and immediately began searching for her husband.
“I looked over to the side of the Pentagon where he worked, but the flow of people heading out of the building prevented me from going in that direction,” she said. “I figured we would meet up once we got outside.”
Once outside, she and the others were told to go home, and she planned on leaving once she found her husband.
As she was making her way around the building to the north side where she parked, she saw a few of Ronald’s co-workers. She immediately began to ask for information about him. None had seen him.
Disappointed but not distraught, Jacqueline asked them to let Ronald know — when they saw him — to meet her in the parking lot.
“I still didn’t sense that anything bad had happened to him,” she said.
With the roads blocked and unable to leave, Jacqueline crossed the street to a nearby office complex and mall to make a phone call.
“I forgot my cell phone that morning, and I wanted to check the answering machine at home for any messages from Ronald,” she said.
She anxiously dialed home. There were about 15 messages from friends and family, but none from Ronald.
“I didn’t want to think the worst,” she said. “I was hoping that he only may have been injured and had been taken to a hospital.”
She called area hospitals to see if he had been admitted, but no one had him on an admissions list. Worried, she finally left the Pentagon and picked up her then 15-month-old daughter, Myejoi, before heading home.
“I was hoping that we just weren’t connecting and thought that as soon as I got home, I would see his Jeep in the driveway,” she explained. “I got home, and there was no Jeep.”
When someone from Ronald’s office called, she was hopeful — the individual sat next to Ronald and made it out safely. But he told her Ronald wasn’t in the office when the plane hit.
Throughout the rest of the day, she didn’t receive any other news about her husband. Still, she hoped.
“Although I hadn’t heard from him, I still didn’t want to give up hope,” she said. “I stayed glued to the television hoping for some news. I even remember getting frustrated because it seemed the news focused more on New York than on the Pentagon.”
That night, Jacqueline tried to eat and get some sleep, not for herself but for her unborn child. A day passed, and then two. Finally, crews were able to get into the Pentagon to search for survivors. She still held out hope that Ronald might only be injured and trapped in the building.
“I just wanted him to be alive,” she said. “I never really gave up hope until I was officially notified the following Tuesday that he was killed in the attack.”
He wasn’t in his office because he was at a 9:30 staff meeting on the E-ring — exactly where the aircraft hit the building.
Ronald was buried with full military honors September 29 at Arlington National Cemetery, a ceremony befitting the kind of man he was.
“He was a good, honest and wonderful father and husband,” Jacqueline said. “It took me forever and a deployment to Korea to find him. Now he’s gone.”
However, when she thinks back to when she first met him, a large smile creeps across her face, and her eyes light up.
“We first met in Seoul, Korea, in 1998,” she recalls. “He seemed kind of standoffish and quiet at first. But we eventually started talking and dancing, and decided to meet each other the following day for a boat ride.”
Even though they were stationed at different locations, Osan Air Base for her, and Kunsan Air Base for him, they stayed in touch — sometimes calling or e-mailing, other times visiting. She laughs at the thought of how her initial plans for the
Korean assignment changed.
“When I went to Korea, my plan was not to find a man,” she joked. “I promised myself that I was going to work on my master’s degree and not try to meet anyone. Then there was Ronald.”
After about a month and half, she knew she really liked spending time with him.
“The only thing was, he was Army,” she said. “That was another promise that I would end up breaking — never date Army. Oh well, never say never. It turned out that the first Army guy I dated I eventually married.”
She didn’t know how the relationship was going to work if they got serious. They both knew the mission came first, and the chances of getting stationed together would be slim.
“I’m a personnelist and could get stationed almost anywhere, but Ronald was air defense, and they are very limited on assignments,” she said.
Ronald left before half her tour was up, and served two tours in Saudi Arabia. She ended up at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. But they constantly kept in touch.
The couple eventually married Jan. 15, 2000, in a small ceremony in a local church in Mississippi.
They finally were able to be together once again when both received assignments to the Pentagon and even had time to start a family with the birth of their daughter, Myejoi. Both were excited about their second child, Ronald Jr., when their lives changed September 11. Jacqueline said faith has helped her make it through.
“Without a doubt, my world was flipped upside down,” she said. “I don’t know how I would have been able to handle any of this without God. I know he’s got me covered even when people let us down. He will always be there for me, and I thank Him for that.
“Ronald was a Christian and really into God, and I have never had someone like that before. I really loved that part of him. I know Ronald wouldn’t want me to be sad and dwell on what happened. He would say that it wouldn’t be good for the kids or for me.”
So she keeps busy. Which isn’t too hard to do considering she’s working full time and raising two young children.
As for the terrorists, she doesn’t have the energy right now to think about them.
“I’m too busy raising our babies and have many more things to focus on besides bitterness and anger,” she said. “The hardest part will be trying to answer the children’s questions about their father. Myejoi was only 15 months old when Ronald died and now only associates ‘daddy’ with a picture. Ronald Jr. never even had the opportunity to meet his father.
Major Milam was killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on 11 September 2001. On that date a band of terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 77, bound for California, and crashed it into the Pentagon, killing all on board and scores within the building.
Major Ronald D. Milam
Attack Location: Pentagon
Ronald D. Millam was a Major in the Army
NOTE: Major Milam was laid to rest in Section 64 of Arlington National Cemetery, in the shadows of the Pentagon.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard