World War II Flight Training Museum and
63rd AAF Flying Training Detachment

Douglas, Georgia

Clement Kennedy Miller

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Clement Kennedy Miller

Theater: Pacific

Highest rank achieved: Colonel

Born: 4 Nov 1920. Died: 1 Feb 2001.

Enlisted: 4 Sep 1941 in Indiana.

Awards: Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 7 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the american Theater Medal with Battle Star and the Asiatic-Pacific Medal with 4 Battle Stars.

Wife: Emma Miller.

Clement K. Miller and Emma Miller

He graduated from Darr Aero Tech (Basic) and Turner field (advanced) (S/N: O-789194).

(The folowing is from a letter he wrote to the Douglas 63rd AAF FTD museum)

My first active duty assignment involved flying B-25s from Mitchell Field, NY and later, with the reassignment to the 39th bombardment Squadron, from Army Air Bases at Dover, Delaware and Fort Dix, NJ. I was co-pilot and later pilot in the expanding American counteroffensive to Germany’s submarine offensive against Allied shipping off the U.S. East Coast, the Islands of the Caribbean and the Northeast Coast of South America. In a name change, the 39th Bombardment Squadron (the Bat Out of Hell Squadron) became the 3rd Antisubmarine Squadron of the 25th Antisubmarine Command. The Command was headquartered in New York City.

The 3rd Antisubmarine Squadron was transferred as a unit to the 7th Army Air Force in the build-up for the intensified U.S. Air Offensive against Japanese Islands in the Central Pacific Ocean and, eventually, the home islands of Japan itself. The “3rd” was assigned to the 7th bomber Command (Rear Echelon) and became the 819th Bombardment Squadron of the 30th Bombardment Group. The 819th Squadron was located at Barking Sands Army Air Base, Kauai Island, Hawaii.

While at Barking Sands, the “Bat Out of Hell” pilots and aircrewmen converted from B-25 low-level, anti-submarine type flying (3 to 5 hundred feet altitude) to B-24 high-level, oxygen-mask type flying. The transition process was unusual in that it was home made at the squadron level.

Starting as a sole squadron pilot with just a tad of B-24 time, the transition endeavor was, more or less, on a “do-it-yourself, once-around-the-pattern and you-are-on-your-own” basis. Aided by a lot of “Flight Line Flying” in the absence of a hangar and with B-24 novices helping other B-24 novices, the “Bat Out of Hell” pilots and crewmen became operational very rapidly in B-24 aircraft. The ploting fundamentals and the sense of pilot professionalism acquired in primary flight training came in handy and speeded up the B-24 conversion endeavor. This transition effort, in and of itself, was testimony to the high-quality, thorough training provided earlier by Primary Flight instructors.

Shortly after the transition period, the 819th was based at Wheeler Field, Oahu, Hawaii. The Squadron became a B-24 crew-holding and operational training activity for the 30th Group before sending the crews westward to fly combat missions in the Central Pacific Ocean. Assignment as the Squadron Operations Officer became my duty at Wheeler Field. Later, the Squadron itself went westward in the Central Pacific area where it linked up with the other three Squadrons of the 30th Group on Saipan Island immediately after its capture by U. S. Forces. This new location marked the first time the “Bat Out of Hell” pilots were required to fly as formation elements in larger aerial forces. Alas, our days as hellishly independent mission pilots had now come to an end.

From Saipan, the Squadron Commander led the Squadron’s first combat mission, which took off from the formerly Japanese Aslito Airdrome, to join up with other B-24s in the first Army Air Force aerial bombardment of Japanese airfields on Iwo Jima Island. How about that — Americans using an ex-Japanese airbase to bomb another Japanese airbase!

In a few days, the hard-driving Army Corps of Engineers converted the Aslito Airdrome into Isley Field for the rumored use by some big, unknown, new bomber aircraft. Shortly, the big new bombers, the B-29s, began arriving in droves and began flying combat missions to Japan amid bulldozers and asphalt laying equipment operated by soldiers with carbines across their laps. Wow, what a magnificent display of the “can-do” of the Army Corps of Engineers.

With the arrival of the B-29s, the B-24s were no longer the “big” bombers and the 30th Group was relegated to a smaller strip, called Isley, Jr., laid parallel to its namesake. The 30th group carried on its bombardment of airfields on Japanese Islands within the B-24’s radius of action.

My combat mission flying and “operations work” were interrupted by a temporary assignment to a Joint Army, Navy, and Marine Air Staff of the then very secret 10th Army (General Simon Bolivar Buckner) and resulted in a return to Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii. My duties there were to represent the 7th Air Force B-24s in Joint Air Staff operational planning activities associated with the upcoming invasion of Okinawa and, ultimately, the “main event” — the softening-up and invastion of Japan itself.

Upon completion of the temporary duty with the 10th army, I was posted to the 11th Bombardment Group, which was another B-24 Group of the 7th Bomber Command. My assignment was as the Commanding Officer of the 42nd Bombardment Squadron and continued to the end of the war and the surrender of Japan. The 42nd Squadron flew combat missions from Harmon Field, Guam Island and, later, from Yontan Field, Okinawa, to the war’s end.

The return troop ship from Okinawa to the West Coast included the 42nd Bombardment Squadron’s Ground Echelon personnel most of whom, with few exdceptions, were the same enlilsted men who nurtured me as a 2nd Lieutenant about the innards of a B-25 in the 29th Bombardment Squadron at Dover, Delaware. It was my good fortune to have served with them to the end of the war and to accompany them back to the U.S. some three years later as a Major with the privilege of being their Commanding Officer.

After returning to the U.S. I was assigned to Freeman Field, Seymour Indiana, near my home town of Vincennes, Indiana. My assignments at Freeman Field involved the preparation of German aircraft, engines and rockets (V-2’s) for evaluation at Wright Field. A second area of activity was the preservation of history-making Air Corps aircraft destined for the then planned Air Force Museum. About a year later, I functioned for a short period as the initial deactivation Commanding Officer for Freeman Field until I enrolled in the Aeronautical Engineering School of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. I graduated from Purdue in early 1950. (Editor’s note: He earned a B.S. and a M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering in Propulsion, and also graduated from the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL.)

I logged 2100 hours and 38 longhaul bombing missions (all B-24s) over the Pacific from Saipan, Guam and Okinawa to enemy islands, the East Coast of China and to the home islands of Japan. The Pacific Ocean area targets were varied: Iwo Jima, Chi Chi Jima, Yap, Truk and Marcus Islands; and in Japan: Kagoshima, Nagasaki, the Kure Naval Harbor; and in China: the Shanghai airport.

In 1950 and concurrent with employment in the Southern California aircraft industry I joined an air Force Reserve unit, the 88th Air Depot Wing, as the Commanding Officer of its Air Base Group. The Wing was orderd to active duty during the Korean War and its personnel were widely assigned to various units. I was assigned to the maintenance depot at San Bernardino, CA. I remained in the Air Force until my retirement as a Regular Air Force Colonel. I had served 30 years.