John L. 'Johnny' Miller
John L. Miller asked me to join the Special Forces
Proficiency Course.  We were going to help train Recon Teams
and also help organize a base station and radio procedure
for possible Recon Teams operating inside Laos sometime in
the near future.  So I agreed and remained at Camp Pawaii
where our company headquarters and the Pro Course [Special
Forces Proficiency Course] were located.

John Miller was one of the best damn combat soldiers our
army has ever produced.  He loved combat!  In fact, he loved
it so much that some of the guys who were in Delta’s RTs
with him wouldn’t even come near him again afterwards
because he might be recruiting for a another combat mission
and they knew that he would always volunteer himself and his
troops for the most dangerous jobs.  John grew up in a small
West Virginia coal mining town.  He started out working in
the mines like his father did.

John told me about some trouble that he had with a local
bully when he was young.  The bully beat John up every time
they met and sometimes the bully went out of his way to find
John.  This went on for many years.  One Saturday, a little
while after John had graduated from high school and was
working in the mines, he decided that he had taken his last
whipping at the hands of that bully.  He got his baseball
bat, wrapped towels around it and then tightly taped the
towels to the bat.  He put the bat beside the alley door of
his favorite tavern and then went in through the front
entrance.  Very shortly, the bully showed up and started
giving John a hard time.  John invited his tormentor to step
out back with him which the dumbass was eager to do.  John
grabbed the bat as soon as he stepped out the back door and
hit that dude everywhere except his head.  When the guy
finally got out of the hospital, he never went looking for
John again.  John joined the army shortly afterwards.  I
believe John joined special forces when it originated in
1952 and went to Germany with the 10th Group.

While stationed in Germany with the 10th Group, John, who
was a Master Sergeant, E-7 at the time, was sent to the
Motor Pool on detail to help them prepare for the upcoming
IG inspection.  Sergeant Clarence Avery, the Motor Pool
Sergeant, assigned them jobs.  Before doing so, he told
them, “I’m going to assign you duties and responsibil-ities
commensurate with your rank.”  Avery then told John to clean
windshields.  John promptly knocked Avery out.  John then
returned to the barracks where he told his commander, “I
wouldn’t have hit him, if he hadn’t told me that washing
windshields was commensurate with the duties and
responsibilities of a Master Sergeant.  That’s why I hit
him, not because he told me to wash windshields, but because
he more or less said that was what a Master Sergeant was
supposed to be doing.”

John left the Pro Course to become the NCOIC
[Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge] of the HALO [High
Altitude Low Opening] Committee and Master Sergeant Al
Friend took his place.  Major James H. Morris was the OIC
[Officer In Charge] of the Pro Course.  The other members of
the Pro Course included Sergeants Willard “Pete” Garner, Jim
Powers, Eldon “Duke” Payne, Robert E. Gifford, Walter T.
Hawley, Floyd Marshall, Tom Zan, Norbert F. Weber, Jr.,
Carbon T. Stewart, and myself.  Al Friend was replaced in
June 1967 by Master Sergeant Felipe Ahumada.  Gifford, Zan,
and Weber were veterans of Project Delta lurps.

[Al Friend retired “in place,” in Thailand, and went to work
for the CIA.  He later retired from the CIA and went into
Industrial Security until ill health forced him to “really”
retire to Las Vegas, Nevada where he recently died.  Garner,
Powers, Gifford, Ahumada, and Hawley retired in
Fayetteville.  Powers later earned the nickname “one ear”
after we served together and then died in 1996.  Weber
retired and lives near Tallahassee, Florida.  Carbon T.
Stewart got out of the army and lives in Augusta, Georgia.
Pete became a volunteer worker for the Special Forces
Association and was in charge of their 1996 reunion in
Fayetteville which was the best ever held.  Pete died
shortly thereafter.   I lost track of everyone else, except
for John Miller.  John was later shot in the gut while
serving with another special projects unit. It was either
Project Omega or Project Sigma.  The last I heard, John
survived Vietnam and served as an ROTC instructor somewhere
near Fort Bragg for a while before he retired.  I heard two
different tales about what happened to Sergeant Major John
L. Miller after retirement.  One rumor had it that the
baddest-of-the-bad became a preacher of all things and had
relocated from Fayetteville, North Carolina to a church
somewhere in Tennessee.  The other rumor had it that John
moved to the Jackson, Tennessee area and became a mail

The truth is, John did take a job as a mail carrier in
Dickson, Tennessee [West Tennessee] where he still lives.
As John recently told Delbert Griffith [Big Griff], “One day
while I was licking stamps and delivering the mail, I saw
the light.”  John is now a preacher.  The rumor mongers were
right on the money that time.  Dearly beloved, if you happen
to belong to Reverend Miller’s church, I strongly suggest
that you attend church every Sunday and you better damn well
be on time!  As I recall, John dearly hates tardiness and if
you’re smart, you will never suggest that a Reverend
 “should” be cleaning  windows.]

Don "Val"  Valentine