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The wind blew and the wind chimes sang as our father eased from physical pain to peace with Jesus.
Vernon Howard Miller, Sr. (Col. USAF ret.), 94, died peacefully, surrounded by his family, April 24, 2014.
Col. Miller was born in Nevada, Ohio Nov. 16, 1919. Raised as an only child by a single mother and then by his grandparents he grew to live his life to the fullest.
He graduated from Eden High School in Upper Sandusky, Ohio and attended Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio. In 1941 he enlisted in the US Army and began a life of adventure that forever changed the Ohio farm boy. He was commissioned in 1942 and transitioned to the Army Air Corps.
In 1944 he joined the Fifth Air Force in Sydney, Australia. He spent the remainder of World War II in various areas of the South Pacific.
Under his command, he and his unit landed at Clark Field, Philippines on the same day the U.S. Infantry regained the base from Japanese occupation. He and his unit also landed at Atsugi, Japan on VJ Day, Sept. 2, 1945, to prepare for the landing of U.S. Occupation troops into Japan. In 1946, while serving in Korea, he was among a small group of U.S. Officers to greet Syngman Rhee upon his return to Korea from exile, beginning the build-up of the Republic of South Korea. In 1960 he aided in the evacuation of American dependents from Laos after a coup in that country. In 1963 he helped to develop the operational readiness of the F4C (Phantom) aircraft. Deployed to Vietnam in 1965 he worked to sustain that aircraft for combat operation over Southeast Asia.
His orders to Tyndall Field in 1947 led to a blind-date meeting with a sassy young Italian who would become his wife, Frances, in 1949. The young Air Force couple began a family and for the next 22 years traveled to assignments in Asia, Europe and across the United States.
In 1971 Vernon and Frances settled in Panama City where he began a second career as a civilian full-time husband, building a retirement home, rising through the Masonic Order and practicing professional self-improvement projects. Only age and ill-health slowed his love of learning and reading.
In military service, Vernon was awarded the Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Air Force Commendation Medal and other service, occupation and liberation awards.
In civilian service he was a founding member of the Parker Masonic Lodge and held several district, state and national offices in the Order.
He fulfilled a life-long dream in 1973 by being awarded a Juris Doctor degree, which served him well in many commercial endeavors.
With Frances he enjoyed hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail and cool evenings in the north Georgia mountains.
Above all Vernon loved his family and taught them to be committed to service and to each other.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Frances Rotondo Miller; one son, Vernon Miller, Jr. (Marcy Warrell) of Panama City; two daughters, Francine Alsentzer (Michael) of Tallahassee and Anna Maria Oliver of Destrehan, La.; three grand-children, Daniel Alsentzer, Paul Oliver and Christina Oliver Donley and 2 great-grandchildren.
The family offers a special thanks to Covenant Hospice and especially to Mary Whitley, and LaTanya Thomas for the tender care they gave to our husband and father.
Services will be held at Kent-Forest Lawn Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 10am to noon on Saturday, April 26, 2014.
A private family service of the Rite of Christian Burial, officiated by Fr. Peter Zalewski, will follow at a later time.
2403 Harrison Ave.
Panama City, Fla. 32405
2403 Harrison Avenue
Panama City, FL 32405
Published in Panama City News Herald on Apr. 25, 2014