Macomb Township veteran reflects on Korean War for 70th anniversary

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 7, 2020

 Macomb Township resident Milt Miller is pictured in 1952  in Mannheim, Germany. During the Korean War, Miller was stationed in  Germany working on wire communications.

Macomb Township resident Milt Miller is pictured in 1952 in Mannheim, Germany. During the Korean War, Miller was stationed in Germany working on wire communications.

Photo provided by Milt Miller

 The Korean War began 70 years ago last month. Pictured is the Korean  War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Korean War began 70 years ago last month. Pictured is the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — By speaking about the Korean War, Milt Miller is doing his part to ensure it’s not forgotten.

Known as the “Forgotten War,” positioned in American history between World War II and the Vietnam War, the Korean War began 70 years ago, on June 25, 1950.

The 92-year-old Miller, a lifelong resident of Macomb Township, served in the Army 2nd Armored Division from 1950 to 1952 during the conflict.

Even though he did not spend time in Korea during the war, Miller is a Korean War veteran.

“We were winning in Korea, so they sent the whole division to Germany,” he said.

It wasn’t until North Korean Communist forces attacked South Korean positions south of the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950 that Miller even knew about Korea.

Miller, a member of the Macomb Township Historical Commission, was drafted in the fall of 1950, a couple of years after graduating from Mount Clemens High School.

“When I went in, we were pushing them back, but (Douglas) MacArthur went too far, wanting to go into China; then the Chinese jumped in and drove us all back again,” Miller said. “The war could’ve got worse and worse.”

After training at Fort Hood in Texas, Miller and his division were sent to Europe in May 1951. He remained there until December 1952.

“The government was worried about Russians in Europe,” he said. “We guarded the Poland and Germany border. I think we held the Russians off. I can remember going into town and would have strange men try to sit with us and pump us for information. You just don’t know who they were.”

During the war, Miller, who achieved the rank of sergeant, would work on wire communications on a daily basis.

“Radios weren’t very good so we had to lay wire to our artillery pieces and operate by telephone,” Miller said. “I had about a dozen men and three vehicles with wire leading capacity. We had .50-caliber machine guns on all the trucks.”  

Despite being thousands of miles away, Miller received updates about what was happening on the Korean peninsula.

“In Fort Hood, some non-draftees that helped train us were shipped to Korea,” he said. “We never heard from them again.”

Miller said that regardless of what country a war is fought in, younger generations can know about the freedom and respect soldiers had for one another.  

“I have a patriotic feeling and some wars we say we shouldn’t do it, but even though it doesn’t directly help people here, because we have good soldiers across the world, it revitalizes them too,” he said.

Given that the U.S. was only a few years removed from liberating Europe in World War II, Miller said, in Germany, there was still some hatred toward American troops.

“We were still occupiers,” he said. “We had won, so our police force was still in charge.”

To this day, Miller said, even though the Korean War cost many American lives, a positive effect can still be felt in South Korea.

“Having a free nation there is good for the world,” he said.    

The U.S. Department of Defense estimates there were 33,739 U.S. battle deaths in the Korean War and 103,284 wounded.

Miller was discharged in December 1952 and married Evelyn in May 1953. The couple has four children, nine grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.

After the war, Miller spent 20 years with the Macomb Township Fire Department, making him a charter department member. He also spent 11 years working with the Michigan Department of Transportation. He retired from the Macomb Township Water Department as an assistant superintendent in the mid-1990s.

Data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs shows that over 5.7 million U.S. service members worldwide served during the Korean War, with nearly 1.8 million serving in theater. As of November 2019, it estimated there are just over 1.1 million Korean War veterans alive.

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