Glory days

Local Veteran remembers 20 years of service with pride

Ned Miller has no regrets over his 20 years spent serving in the U.S. military.

In fact, the experience that he retired from 31 years ago this month, is one of his most proud accomplishments--a subject he's not shy about sharing.

"It's wonderful to be able to do for your country what it's done for you," he said recently from the living room of his Craig home. "If we didn't have a good military where would we be now?"

With Veteran's Day on Tuesday, Miller along with a host of local veterans have plans to honor those survivors that fought or served time in the U.S. military. Events include a flagpole ceremony at Moffat County High School and a service later in the day for a Civil War veteran.

At the young age of 17, Miller enlisted in the Marines and was soon shipped off to fight in the Korean War. He served there for 13 months and twice bumped into his childhood friend and Craig resident Jim Meinke.

After Miller returned home he enlisted again, this time in the Army with the hopes of someday entering in the service's elite Special Forces--a goal that he accomplished in 1958.

In the next 18 years of his life Miller was shipped to Panama, Peru, Vietnam and twice to Laos.

He trained to become an army medic at Fort Lee Army Hospital in Virginia and later learned to jump out of airplanes at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

When the serving in the Vietnam War was not a popular option with all on the home front, Miller worked in a Helicopter Ambulance, pulling wounded troops to safety.

"Just like a doctor you get used to certain things," he said, of the fighting and bloodshed he saw there. "When someone hollers for a medic you know you're needed to save a life. You're not the Lord but you do what you can."

As a medic, Miller carries both fond and heart-rending memories. In times of war he witnessed the death of many friends and soldiers. But saving lives was also rewarding.

Miller recalled once successfully delivering a baby to a Cambodia woman, the wife of a friend.

"It was breach," he said. "But both the mother and the baby lived. That was always something that was amazing to me."

These days, Miller said, he has effectively retired from work, after "failing" three times. He worked at Trapper Mine, in law enforcement and at the Hayden Regional Airport.

He now enjoys riding his snowmobile with the local snowmobile club, and helping with local search and local efforts.

"Growing up with those winters that could be long and dreary, now are fun," he said, smiling.

But Miller hasn't completely settled into retirement due to his extensive involvement with local veteran groups such as the American Legion, Special Forces, Special Operations and the Veterans of Foreign Affairs.

He estimates attending at least one veteran's funeral service a month, many of whom fought in World War II.

Still Miller's respect for the older veterans is evident, partly because he knows a little bit about what they've seen in their lifetime.

"If you saw some of the old World War II veterans on the street or running a business you wouldn't know what they'd done or where they'd been," he said.

According to legislation passed by the Clinton Administration, every U.S veteran is due a military funeral. That responsibility carries over to the local Veteran's groups, but Miller doesn't mind a bit.

"The country as a whole is honoring Veteran's Day on Tuesday and we can't say thank you enough," he said. "Everyday in life is special."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 208 or by e-mail at ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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