Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller

AFRH-G Veteran Highlight – Thomas Miller
By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian

Thomas Miller was born and raised in Cotton Valley, a small town located in the northwest portion of Louisiana.   He is the second youngest sibling of nine children who grew up on a family-owned farm.  Thomas didn’t care too much for farming so as soon as he graduated high school, he joined the military.

He enlisted with the Army Air Corps in 1944 with the intention of becoming a pilot.  While Thomas was in pilot training, D-Day occurred.   As a result, the training was discontinued.   He was sent on to B-29 flight engineer school.  However, during the time of this training the Japanese surrendered.  This training was discontinued, as well.  Those enrolled were given the opportunity to either get out of the military or continue.  Thomas decided to come back home.

He found himself a good job and met a girl, Iona.  He and Iona married in 1946 and eventually had two children, a son and a daughter.  Iona’s parents moved to Gulfport, MS so she wanted to follow them.  When the young couple got to the Gulf Coast, Thomas had a hard time finding a job.  He decided to reenlist and got stationed at Keesler Air Force Base (KAFB), only one city over in Biloxi, MS.  Next, he was sent to London where he began working in postal.  After three years, he returned to KAFB in 1953 where he began administrative duties.  In 1958, he was sent to work at TechTAF (Technical Training Air Force), which happened to be located on the same exact property that AFRH-G now sits.  He stayed for two years and was sent back overseas to do a stint in Taiwan and another in Bangkok.  In 1964, he returned back to KAFB.  He was assigned as a first sergeant of the USAF 3401 Student Squadron.  Again, he was right back on the same property where the home now resides.  It was while stationed here that he decided to retire from his military career.

Thomas had bought a home in the Bayou View subdivision of Gulfport.  He began working at the post office in Gulfport but did not care for it.  Eventually he purchased a local business, Bayou View Gulf Service Station, which he ran for 13 years. 

When Thomas’ son was younger he was in the Boy Scouts.  Thomas accompanied the troop on a hiking trip through Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  He enjoyed it so much that he, along with the Scout Master and another friend, decided to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.  After much research and planning, the trio decided to break the hike down in sections and finish each section one year at a time.  Before the hikers began on their journey, they volunteered for a few weeks to maintain trails and build shelters, bridges, and trail ways.  The first year they began their hike in Amicalola Falls, GA and ended a few weeks later in Fontana Dam, NC.  During their hikes, they would either sleep in small tents or tiny shelters provided by the park.  They would stop every couple weeks to restock on grocery supplies.  The hikers had to keep very few supplies knowing whatever they kept had to be carried in their backpacks.  Their backpacks typically weighed about 35-40 pounds and were carried the entire duration of their trips.

The next year, they began their excursion where they left off in Fontana Dam and hiked to Virginia.  The next year they began in Virginia and hiked a few weeks until they hit Bennington, VT.  Beginning the following year in Vermont, the men made it to Berlin, NH.  Their final year, the hikers started in Berlin and finally ended their astonishing accomplishment of an over 2000 mile trek through the Appalachian Trail.

Thomas lost his wife of 65 years in 2012. Living alone, he decided to visit AFRH-G.  The grandfather of six (great-grandfather of four) was impressed enough to put his name on the list of potential residents.  After a three-year wait, he moved in at the age of 91 and has now been a resident for about one year.  He mostly spends his time at the home by volunteering in the Lord’s Cabin and in the library.  He also enjoys reading.  AFRH-G is very happy to welcome Thomas as one of its newer residents.