Veterans Helping Veterans (VHV) is an all-volunteer program funded by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6073 and American Legion (AL) Post 30. VHV has been making mobility modifications to help veterans age safely in their homes since 2017.
The VHV Team came together recently to build hand and grab rails for 89-year-old Early Cold War Era Veteran U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Gene Miller and his lovely wife Nancy of Scottsboro, Alabama. We offered to build Gene a wheelchair ramp, but he flat out told us he is not ready for that, and we could easily see why because Miller’s a MARINE! VHV was enlightened by the opportunity to learn about Sergeant Miller’s service in the Armed Forces and honor him for his contribution to defending our freedom.
Folks around the county know Gene and Nancy Miller and are familiar with their many years of devotion to the community through the music ministry. Gene Miller has served as the Music Director for three of Jackson County’s most historic churches: Trinity Baptist, CenterPoint Baptist, and currently, Section Baptist.
VHV interviewed Gene and Nancy in their warm and welcoming home where we were deeply humbled to find them as devoted to each other as they are God, Country, and Community.
Complications for COVID-19 caused Gene to lose his hearing and have dizzy spells. The project added handrails on the front and back brick steps and the front porch. Grab-bars were also added in elevation transitions and in the shower to minimize any possibility of falling. VHV is happy to report Gene’s hearing is improving and he is sharp as a tack and happy to share the memories of his service with us.
Gene Miller was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in 1934. He was raised in church, worked in the family-owned Jackson Park Grocery and played drums in high school band. After graduation, Miller enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in August 1952. Miller was sent to the Field Music School at Parris Island, South Carolina, where he trained to play the bugle in 13 weeks before he was assigned to the elite U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps also formally known as “The Commandant’s Own”.
Members of the Marine Band are trained combat warriors who provide morale, support, and evoke pride since 1786. In 1934, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps was founded. In the early 1950’s, the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps was in high demand and being recognized for excellence and unique status as musicians in the tradition of field music where all graduates are trained in basic military skills in addition to passing a demanding audition. It remains the only active-duty drum and bugle corps in the Armed Forces today.
Upon graduation, Private Miller served as the bugler for the Military Police Company on Parris Island where his duty was to play reveille, mess call and retreat each day. Miller recalls playing in the band on Fridays for the recruit training battalion parades and graduations, change of commands, TAPS and performances for the public. Miller explained he loved to play and twirl the cymbals, which he says, “Shined like new made money!”
It did not take long for Miller to get noticed for his talents and pride in his uniform. PFC Miller was selected to serve on a security detail for the Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (CINCNELM) in London.Miller recalls marveling at the large naval maps covering the walls of the CINCNELM Operations Center. Under the command of Admiral Jerauld Wright, CINCNELM’s area of responsibility stretched from the eastern Atlantic through the Indian Ocean to Singapore with a fleet of at least six cruisers and destroyers.
Sergeant Miller separated from active duty in 1955 from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. However, he remained obligated for recall to active duty under the U.S. Military Training and Service Act until 1960.
Gene returned home to North Carolina where he met and married his wife Nancy and went to work at Woolworths as a Store Manager in 1963. In 1986, they moved to Scottsboro and have been dedicated and making significant contributions to this community through the music ministry ever since.
We left the U.S. Marine Sergeant Miller’s home feeling a unique sense of pride and gratitude for the tradition and contribution of military bands to the morale and camaraderie of the service members the United States Army Forces and reflect on our own moments of joy when the military band was heard because it gives rhythm to our sense of loyalty, pride and appreciation for our homes, families and great nation.
Gene wants us all to know he is doing well and is looking forward to getting back to church.
U.S. Marine Sergeant Miller is the example of those who serve using one’s own God given talent to inspire and preserve American tradition, morals, and values. Sergeant Gene Miller is not only one of “The Commandant’s Own”, but he is also one of “Jackson County’s Finest.”
Veterans Helping Veterans wants every veteran of the Armed Forces to know their military service is not greatly appreciated and they are not forgotten. VHV wants every veteran to know opportunity does exist where they may continue serving and experiencing the camaraderie of military service founded on loyalty and duty to our great nation through participation in the congressionally chartered Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and American Legion Posts and Auxiliaries. VFW Fallen Comrades Post 6073 and American Legion Post 30 has been serving Jackson County since 1946 and is located at 1616 Heroes Drive, Scottsboro, Alabama. Learn more at vfw6073.org or call 256.259.6161.
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