By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — Montour County’s Veterans Affairs office had never before given away three war markers for one veteran’s grave, but that was before George Miller returned home to Danville.
“He served with pride. He was very proud of being in the military,” said his wife, Thelma Miller. She has pictures of George, before he passed away earlier this year, with his numerous medals and commendations in their home in Colfax, Louisiana. “The whole wall was covered” with his awards, she said.
George enlisted in the Army in June 1946, the waning days of World War II, when he was only 17 years old. “His dad had to sign for him, but he wanted to go in,” remembered Thelma. It was during this tour that he served in the occupation of Okinawa, Japan.
He spent a total of 30 years in the Army, including serving in the Korean War and two tours of Vietnam, in addition to peace time stations.
George’s cremains were brought back to Danville for a June 29 burial at Odd Fellows Cemetery, after he passed away in Colfax on March 5 at age 83 due to numerous health complications, such as emphysema, heart trouble and exposure to agent orange. “He wanted to be buried on his mom and dad’s grave,” said Thelma. She placed the three markers, one each for recognizing service in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, on George’s grave site July 1. It’s the first time the Montour County Veterans Affairs office has ever given out three of the markers to one person, said office director Doug Resseguie.
The honor guard from Danville’s Legion Post 40 also attended George’s memorial service.
Danville’s Veterans Affairs Office is currently in the process of procuring a headstone for George, which will take at least a month, said Thelma.
Thelma and George both grew up in Danville, both attended Danville High School and met at a Danville-Bloomsburg football game after George had come back from Japan. The two became high school sweethearts, but the relationship ended due to George’s desire to stay in the military and his constant redeployment. “We went our separate ways,” recounted Thelma, with both marrying different people.
Years later, after both their spouses had died, Thelma returned to Danville to visit her brother. While there, they ran into George’s younger brother, Ronald, who suggested the two meet up again. Though hesitant at first, Thelma eventually agreed.
“We just talked and talked for hours and hours and he kept sending flowers” even after she had returned to her home near Pittsburgh, she said.
The two were married in 2000. “We had the beginning and the end,” said Thelma.
“He was a good brother. He was rough and tough and he didn’t take bull from nobody,” said Ronald, who serves on Mahoning Township’s supervisor board. “He’s the hero in this family.”
Email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.