Thomas H. Miller, Jr. – Lieuenant General, United States Marine Corps

Lieutenant General Thomas H. Miller, Jr., passed away on November 27, 2007. He last served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Aviation, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.


Lieutenant General Miller was the first American to fly the Marine Corps' new AV-8A jet, capable of vertical takeoff and landing. He also made his mark in aviation history by setting the 500 kilometer Closed Course World Speed Record at 1,216.78 miles per hour in an F-4H-1 (F4B) aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on September 5, 1960.

Lieutenant General Miller was born June 3, 1923, in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from George West (Texas) High School in 1939, and attended Schreiner Institute, Kerrville, Texas, and the University of Texas, prior to enlisting in the U.S. Naval Reserve V-5 Program, in June 1942. Initially he was a Seaman 2d Class, and was later designated as an Aviation Cadet. He underwent flight training at the Naval Air Stations at Dallas and Corpus Christi, Texas, and was commissioned a Marine Second Lieutenant and designated a Naval Aviator on March 1, 1943. He integrated into the regular Marine Corps in January 1946.

Lieutenant General Miller received operational training at Cherry Point, North Carolina, and Camp Kearney, California, prior to reporting to El Centro, California, in June 1943, for duty as a pilot with Marine Observation Squadron 155, later designated as Marine Fighter Squadron 155. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in September 1943, and deployed with the Squadron to the Pacific in February 1944, to participate in combat operations, first from Midway Island, and later in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. He was promoted to Captain in July 1944.

Returning to the United States in January 1945, Lieutenant General Miller became Assistant S-3 Officer, and later the S-3 Officer of Marine Aircraft Group 91, at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. From December 1945 until October 1946, he served as a Test Pilot and Projects Officer at the Naval Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland.

Lieutenant General Miller completed the Aviation Maintenance Officer's course at the Marine Corps Air Technical School, Quantico, Virginia. In May 1947 he was ordered to Marine Corps Air Station, Ewa, Hawaii, as Assistant Base Operations and Aircraft Maintenance Officer. He remained there until June 1949, when he was transferred to Corpus Christi, Texas, as an instructor at the Naval Air Advanced Training Command. He was reassigned in June 1951, to Quantico, as an instructor of the Aviation Technical Course. He was promoted to Major in June 1952.

Lieutenant General Miller participated in combat operations in Korea with Marine Attack Squadron 323, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, serving as the S-3 Officer, and later as Executive Officer. In May 1953, he was reassigned to the Joint Operations Center in Seoul, Korea, as Marine G-2 Officer and Air Targets Officer.

He returned to the United States in January 1954, and was assigned to Marine Corps Air Station, E1 Toro, CA, as Special Services Officer, until June 1955, when he was reassigned as Executive Officer, Marine Attack Squadron 224. Also, while in Marine Attack Squadron 224 he was assigned as Officer-in-Charge of the Marine team participating in the Fleet Introduction Program (FIP) for the evaluation and introduction of the new A4D-1 attack aircraft into Navy and Marine Corps Squadrons.

Lieutenant General Miller attended the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Usland, from July 1957 to June 1958, and upon graduation, was ordered to the Bureau of Aeronautics, later the Bureau of Naval Weapons, Washington, D.C., as a Research and Development Project Officer of the F-4H-1 (later the F-4B) Weapons System. He studied at the University of Maryland during this period and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in July 1959. From August 1961 to June 1962, Lieutenant General Miller attended the Amphibious Warfare School, Senior Course, at Quantico, and upon completion, was transferred to the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, El Toro, serving as Commanding Officer, Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron 513. He arrived in Japan in June 1964, as Executive Officer, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. This unit was deployed to the Republic of Vietnam in May 1965. He was promoted to Colonel in July 1965, and attended the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, completing the course in June 1966. He was ordered to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., and served as Head, Air Weapons Requirements Branch, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Aviation. Following his promotion to Brigadier General in August 1969, he was reassigned as the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3.

Lieutenant General Miller was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam in December 1969, where he served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, (Director of Operations) and later as the Chief of Staff, III Marine Amphibious Force. He returned to the United States in January 1971, and was assigned as Assistant Wing Commander, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, Cherry Point. During this period he also commanded the 8th Marine Amphibious Brigade as a part of NATO Forces and conducted an amphibious landing in Turkey. He assumed command of the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing in April 1972, and was promoted to Major General in July 1972. As an additional assignment, in September 1972, he commanded the 6th Marine Amphibious Brigade as a NATO force and conducted an amphibious landing in Norway.  Lieutenant General Miller relinquished his command of the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing in July 1974 and was reassigned as Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, in Hawaii. In April 1975, he assumed the duties as Commanding General, FMFPAC and in August 1975, he reported to Headquarters Marine Corps and was assigned the Deputy Chief of Staff for Aviation. He was promoted to Lieutenant General on January 1, 1976, and retired from active duty on July 1, 1979.

Lieutenant General Miller's personal decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” and one gold star, the Distinguished Flying Cross with three gold stars, the Air Medal w/two silver stars and four bronze stars, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, the Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Korean Order of Military Merit, Hwa Rang, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, the United Nations Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Since his retirement, General Miller remained active in aviation matters serving on the Department of Defense Science Board, and in various civilian and military presidential commissions concerned with safety improvements for the nation's air transportation system.

Since 1984 he had served on the Washington Airports Task Force Executive Committee and on the Air & Space Heritage Council for the expansion of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, now underway at Dulles. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and is Chairman of the Executive Board of the Astronaut's Scholarship Foundation.

THOMAS H. MILLER, JR. Lieutenant General, United States Marine Corps (Retired).

Tom Miller passed away peacefully at his home in Arlington, Virginia on November 27, 2007 after a battle with cancer. His wife of 64 years, Ida Mai, was at his bedside.

Miller was born in Live Oak, Texas on June 3, 1923. He was the only child of a county judge and a loving mother. He met his future wife when they were both toddlers and their relationship was nourished over the next eight decades.

Educated at the Scheiner Institute and the University of Texas, Miller enlisted in the Naval Reserve shortly after the outbreak of World War II. He was commissioned a Marine officer and aviator in 1943. During his 37 year career he reached the three-star rank of Lieutenant General and headed all of Marine Corps Aviation during a critical four and a half period when the the Marine Corps was developing its “vertical envelopment” concept that would better move and support Marines in combat on the ground. Lt. General Miller has been called “the father of STOVL (short take-off and vertical landing) aviation in the USMC.” He was the first American to fly the British Harrier jump-jet fighter, orchestrated its procurement for the Marine Corps and oversaw development of the concept during his career. He was still advising the current Commandant as recently as three months ago. His impact on Navy and Marine Aviation will be felt for generations.
Tom Miller was a rarity among fighter pilots, seeing active combat in not only World War II and Korea, but also two tours of Viet Nam action.
He was the recipient of numerous awards and decorations. In between wars, he was a test pilot and at one time set at 500 KM closed course speed record flying the F4H Phantom. With devotion to Corps and country, he was truly a “Marine's Marine.”

Tom Miller was a deeply religious and devoted family man. He cherished his relationship with his wife and two daughters, Jacqueline and Jo Ann. One friend called him the “most generous man he had ever met.” He contributed to many charities and gave of his own time without hesitation. He cited his philosophy that “life was much like a wheel with each spoke representing family, country and faith. They all had to be delicately balanced.” He lived by that creed.

He was a lifelong avid ham radio operator with the call sign of K4IC and grew to know hundreds of such operators around the world. He entertained countless children, including his two grandsons, Matt and Tim, with his infamous call to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

As a youngster, he was an accomplished violinist and loved football, playing college ball at the University of Texas. His friendship with astronaut and Senator John Glenn became as close as brothers. Not only did they fly many combat missions together during World War II and Korea, but owned homes next door to each other in Virginia. Their families became one extended group to this day. During confirmation consideraton on the Senator floor in 1975, Glenn praised Miller with the following words: “I know of no man to whome I would give higher recommendation for any position than Tom Miller. He is dedicated to doing what is right, is a fine Christian gentleman in every sense and I deem our country fortunate to have a man of this caliber.”

A memorial service will be held at Little Falls Presbyterian Church, 6025 Little Falls Rd., Arlington, Saturday, December 1 at 11 a.m., with a reception to follow. A full military burial service will be held at Fort Myer Chapel and Arlington National Cemetery on General Miller's 85th birthday, June 3, 2008. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made, in Tom's name, to the Salvation Army and Give the Kids World or the charity of one's choice.In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made, in Tom's name, to the Salvation Army and Give the Kids World or the charity of one's choice.

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