Curtis Daniel Miller


Major Curtis Daniel Miller
U. S. Air Force

June 07, 1946 - March 29, 1972
Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery

Gold Star Mother
Marvis Nell Bailey Miller Johnston Smith

School Days          Photos of Burial          Prometheus


Courtesy of Gene Ponce

Location on the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Washington, D. C.

Panel 02W  Line 122

"Prometheus" AC-130A tail number 55-0044

Spectre: "Fabulous Four Engine Fighters"  Call sign: Spectre 13  Theme song: Ghost Riders in the Sky by Stan Jones




Dan  was born June 7, 1946, in Beaumont, Texas, the first child of the late Paul Lee Miller [October 18, 1925 - August 14, 1974] and Marvis Nell Bailey Miller. The little family moved to Matagorda County, Texas where in April 1950, his brother Alan Kent was born in Bay City. Later that year the family moved to Palacios, Texas where his father became co-owner and operator of Port Machine, Inc. His sister Paulette Lois was born shortly after they moved to Palacios.  


He attended the Palacios schools and graduated from Palacios High School in 1964. While in high school he was in football, FFA (officer) and the Senior Play. Also, he was a Powderpuff Cheer-leader, attended American Legion Boys State and was in the National Honor Society.


Continuing his education, he received a BBA degree in advertising from Texas Technological University at Lubbock, Texas. While in college he met Susan Rothrock, and they were married in Palacios on November 26, 1966.


After graduation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program, and was stationed at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio for intelligence training. While at Brooks, they shared the joy of the birth of their daughter, Christine Danell.


He subsequently achieved his great ambition to become a pilot while stationed at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas, earning his wings on May 27, 1971. He was eventually assigned to fly an AC-130, a large cargo plane that was redesigned to be a gun ship. While stationed in Florida, he was promoted to Captain. He was then assigned to the 16th Special Operations Squadron (SOS), 8th Tactical Fighter Wing (Wolfpack), 7th Air Force which was located at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Ubon, Ratchathani, in the Ubon Ratchathani Province, Thailand. (Due to the difficulty in pronouncing Ratchanthani, the name is usually shortened to Ubon.) Six weeks before his deployment, he and his wife Susan with their little Christine visited with the family in Palacios.  


The 16th SOS flew the advanced AC-130 E/H model aircraft code named Spectre. The Spectre was the most deadly night-flying weapons system in Southeast Asia.  It destroyed or damaged an average of 10,000 trucks per year over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Additional roles included defense of hamlets and fire bases, troops in contact with the enemy, convoy escort and battlefield illumination. The Spectre moved to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, July 19, 1974 as part of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, and concluded its involvement in Southeast Asia from that location. Having participated in every major campaign, the Spectre participated in Operation Eagle Pull supporting the evacuation of Phnom Penh and Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon, and figured prominently in the rescue of the Mayaguez. Spectre’s distinguished record in Southeast Asia was not achieved without cost; 53 aircrew members were killed in action.  The unit’s awards included: The Distinguished Unit Citation; The Presidential Unit Citation; The Gallant Unit Citation; The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor Device; The Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Device.


Dan joined the 16th SOS late in 1971, the exact date is not known. On the night of March 29, 1972, he (serving as a pilot) and 13 other crew members: [Major Irving B. Ramsower II, aircraft commander; 1st Lieutenant Charles J. Wanzel III, pilot; Major Henry P. Brauner, navigator; Captain Richard Castillo, infrared sensor operator; Major Howard D. Stephenson, electronic warfare officer; Captain Barclay B. Young, fire control officer; Captain Richard C. Halpin, low light TV senior operator; Staff Sergeant James K. Caniford , illuminator operator; Staff Sergeant Merlyn Paulson, flight engineer, Staff Sergeant Edward D. Smith, Jr., aerial gunner Staff Sergeant Edwin Pearce, aerial gunner; Airman First Class William A. Todd, aerial gunner; and Airman First Class Robert E. Simmons, aerial gunner] departed Ubon Air Field aboard an AC-130A gunship named “Prometheus,” tail number 55-0044*, and call sign “Spectre 13.” They were on an armed reconnaissance mission with an F4D fighter escort over Laos to interdict North Vietnamese supplies moving south into the acknowledged war zone.


This area of Laos was considered a major artery of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail. When North Vietnam began to increase its military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. This border road was used by the Communists to transport weapons, supplies and troops from North Vietnam into South Vietnam, and was frequently no more than a path cut through the jungle mountains. US forces used all assets available to them to stop this flow of men and supplies from moving south into the war zone.


At 0300 hours, the F4D’s aircrew saw three surface to air missiles (SAM) lift off the ground. Before the gunship could take evasive action, one 37-foot long Soviet-built SAM hit Specter 13. A few seconds later the AC-130A impacted the ground on the east side of a jungle covered mountain, followed by secondary explosions. It was the first time an AC-130 had been shot down by a SAM. The communist stronghold in and around the town of Tchepone lay across the valley. The wreckage of Prometheus was located in the jungle-covered mountains approximately 12 miles south of Ban Namm, 21 miles west of Techepone, 56 miles east of the city of Savannakhet and 32 miles west of the Lao/Vietnamese border, Savannakhet Province, Laos; and 45 miles due west of Khe Sanh, South Vietnam.


Learning that a loved one is missing in action is one of the hardest pieces of news a military family can receive. For nearly four decades his wife, daughter, mother and sister staunchly held on to the hope Dan would eventually be found alive, and did everything they could to not let him be forgotten by the US government. They made certain he remained classified as a POW/MIA until his remains were finally identified. His wife Susan never remarried, remaining true to her wedding vows.


In 1986 the crash site was surveyed and excavated by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. Some remains were recovered. In 2005 - 2006 joint teams re-surveyed the crash site and excavated it twice. The teams found more human remains, personal effects and crew-related equipment.


Dan’s remains were conclusively identified in 2008; in 2010 his wife Susan flew to Hawaii to escort his remains home. On March 29, 2010 - exactly 38 years to the day that the mission was brought down, he was buried at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery with full military honors. During the graveside service an AC-130 aircraft similar to Prometheus made a low altitude pass over the mourners.


*Spectre aircrews were not assigned to a specific aircraft.  They flew whatever aircraft they were assigned for a specific mission. Prometheus was severely damaged by ground fire in December 1971. A propeller on the right wing was hit and when it sheared off it tore off the propeller next to it. The pilots were able to bring the plane home on a wing and a prayer. It is unknown if Dan was onboard the aircraft when it was hit.


Article Courtesy of Gene Ponce -

Week Proclaimed For a Palacios MIA


Since the beginning of American involvement in southeast Asia, there has been no complete accounting of U.S. prisoners of war and missing in action.


The lack of information on the fate of these men has prompted a proclamation by the City Council in Palacios, proclaiming Captain Curtis D. Miller Week.


Miller, son of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Miller of Palacios, and husband of Mrs. Susan Miller, also of Palacios, was the pilot of an Air Force AC-130 that was shot down over Laos on March 29, 1972.


Neither Miller nor the 14 men aboard have been heard from since.


Because of the lack of information about POW's and MIA's, held in North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, a letter writing campaign has been instituted as part of Capt. Curtis Miller Week, December 7-13.


The Millers' statement reads, in part, "It is our hope that through a massive letter writing campaign, the government of Laos will yield to public opinion, ... it takes 21 cents to mail a letter to Laos, we ask that you inquire about the fate of Capt. Curtis D. Miller, No. 466-72-5405, and express your concern for all the prisoners and MIA's."


The address for Laos is: Prince Souphanouvong Deputy Prime Minister Chairman of the Lao Patriotic Front San Neua, Laos


You may use your own return address, or his wife's.


The Daily Tribune, December 13, 1972

M. I. A. Awareness Day is Sunday:
To Remember Servicemen Lost in S.E. Asia


On Sunday, June 3 there will be a gathering on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C . at 2 p.m. for a special ceremony entitled M.I.A. Awareness Day.

Locally, a similar observance is slated with church bells and fire sirens sounding the reminder of the missing men in Southeast Asia.


Captain Curtis Dan Miller, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Miller of Palacios, has been missing in Laos since March 29, 1972. Through repeated attempts, the Laos officials have reportedly given no accounts of the men in captivity, or of the ones who have been killed there.


In an effort to show concern over the missing persons two addresses are available for the public to write inquiring of the men's whereabouts.


A letter requesting information concerning Captain Miller and others missing in action may be written and sent to Laos.


The Daily Tribune, June 1, 1973

Palacios Man in MIA Group Son Missing Since March


LOS ANGELES (AP)--Despite admonitions from the U.S. State Department, 53 relatives of American servicemen declared missing in Southeast Asia have embarked on a trip they hope will focus international attention on their plight.


The group left Monday by plane en route to Bangkok, Thailand, where they plan to arrange for a trip to Vientiane, capital of Laos. The State Department had advised them not to go.


"We feel like we're drowning in the confusion and coverup we're getting from the government," asserted Paul Miller of Palacios, Tex. His son Capt. Curtis D. Miller has been missing since March 29.


About 1,250 American servicemen are listed by the Pentagon as missing in Southeast Asia. The status of more than 100 MIAs has been changed to dead since American prisoners of war held in Vietnam and Cambodia were released early this year.


Members of the group, fathers, mothers, wives, brothers and sisters of MIAs are from 20 states.


The Daily Tribune, October 9, 1973                         

Palacios Rite Planned


A "Freedom Tree" will be planted on the grounds of the Palacios Senior High School on October 19 at 3 p.m.


The tree will be dedicated to Capt. Curtis Dan Miller, a Palacios native who has been missing in action since March 29, 1972.


Miller's father, Paul Miller, presently is among 52 relatives of missing men who plan to have a vigil this week in the Laotian capital of Vientiane to demand information about Americans missing or held prisoner by the Pathet Lao communists.


They left Los Angeles Monday for Laos.


"It seems that the American people think that when the POW's returned it was all of the men," said Mrs. Paul Miller.


"People have lost interest in the issue of our MIAs. We still have over 1,300 men who are unaccounted for in Southeast Asia."


"We have to find out about our loved ones. We believe our government has the responsibility to account for all of these men," she said.


She said the group of 52 will stay in Vientiane until about Oct. 20 to pressure the Pathet Lao into accounting for the 308 American men believed missing in Laos.


Capt. Miller, a pilot of an AC-130 four-engine computerized gunship, was shot down during a predawn mission. The plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile.


None of the 14 crewmen aboard has been heard from since.


The Laotian government on Sept. 14 signed an agreement with the Pathet Lao under which the communists agreed to account for all prisoners and persons who died in captivity.

The agreement calls for the information to be delivered within 30 days and all prisoners released within 60 days.


Capt. Miller has a wife, Susan, and a daughter, Christy, 4, both of Corpus Christi.

Speaker at the Oct. 10 planting and dedication of the "Freedom Tree" will be State Rep. Tom Uher of Bay City.


The Daily Tribune, October 10, 1973

Susan, Paul and Marvis Nell Miller
Photo courtesy of Pam Davidson

Friends, Classmates Honor Palacios MIA

By Tom Jones

Paul Miller of Palacios returned today from Laos after a fruitless effort to find out the whereabouts of his son, Capt. Curtis D. Miller, missing since March of 1972 when his plane was shot down.

He at least will have the small consolation of knowing that hometown folks care.

That was demonstrated Friday afternoon in a ceremony at the Palacios High School, where a tree was planted in honor of the missing pilot.

It was somber, moving affair and participants were visibly affected. Curtis was a graduate of Palacios High and it was obvious that many of his teachers keenly felt his loss.

"He was one of my boys," said one male teacher, making an effort to hold back tears.

Speaker for the occasion was State Rep. Tom Uher of Bay City.

"We come here today to dedicate this oak tree to a great American, outstanding Texan and native Palacian." Uher said.

"Because we know the beauty of this magnificent tree," he said, "and we know that this tree, as it grows, will become one that will provide shade...and we know that the trunk supports the tree.
"Capt. Miller dedicated his life that this precious commodity of freedom that we take so much for granted would be made available to the people of Southeast Asia.

"When we heard the National Anthem today, if you'll recall those words and say those words, they have so much significance. We all recall from history that the people kept coming...pushing for freedom...through two wars and right up to Southeast Asia...

"These wars have not been fought for the aggrandizement of the United States...These wars have been fought for a person...that a person should have the right of his choice, to worship the God of his or her choice, to be a doctor or carpenter.

"And this is Capt. Danny Miller. This is what Capt. Miller fought for and I think this tree we are dedicating today will signify his character and his courage," Uher went on.

"I think if Capt. Miller were here today he would say 'Don't let your guard down for freedom.'"

"I hope that as we come by and enjoy this tree in the future we will all remember Capt. Miller," he concluded.

The ceremonies were opened by the Palacios High School Band playing the National Anthem.

The Rev. Jim Abernathey gave the invocation.

Following Uher's speech, Mayor W. C. Jackson presented High School Principal J. G. Smith, Jr. with a plaque to be mounted at the school in Miller's honor.

The actual tree planting ceremony was conducted by former classmates of Miller and his wife.

Members of the audience were asked to remember that Miller's father at that very time was in Laos on his mission with members of other families of missing military and to give him their kindest thoughts.

The ceremonies concluded with the Palacios band playing the Palacios Alma Mater, perhaps the best and most moving performance they have every put on.

At the conclusion, there were few dry eyes.

The Daily Tribune, October 22, 1973

1300 GIs Still Unaccounted For

by Tom Jones

People, being the unusual species that they are, have a tendency to forget.

For instance, by now, to most people the Vietnam War is nothing more than a bad memory.

To most people that is.

But to some people, like Mr. and Mrs. Paul Miller of Palacios, the Vietnam War is a living nightmare.

They are among the 1,300 families in the United States who lost a loved one in that conflict. Some of these missing American servicemen have been gone as long as 10 years without a trace.

The Miller's nightmare began in March of 1972 when their son, Capt. Curtis Dan Miller, was reported missing after his bomber was shot down over Laos.

Since then, not a word.

Even though the Millers have sent numerous letters and telegrams and Mr. Miller made a futile trip to Laos, the only reception has been one of stoney silence.

When the Paris Peace Agreement was signed more than a year ago, North Vietnam and the Viet Cong agreed to help account for these missing men.

This has not been done. A total of 1,300 families do not know what happened to their men.

To rekindle public interest, a nationwide campaign has been launched to help these families get an accounting of their men.

Concerned Americans across the United States are sending a few grains of American soil to Hanoi to show that people care, and want these men accounted for.

The envelope of soil should be addressed to: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DRV, Hanoi, North Vietnam .

The campaign is being operated under the title of "We Think It's Important."

The Daily Tribune, July 24, 1974

Father of Palacios MIA Dies

Services will be held at 10 a. m. Saturday at Trinity Baptist Church for Paul Lee Miller, 48, father of Capt. Curtis Daniel Miller, who has been missing in action since March of 1972.

Mr. Miller died Wednesday at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston where he had undergone surgery.

Officiating at the funeral will be the Rev. J. R. Gwin and Rev. Holly Whitfield. Graveside services will be conducted at 5 p. m. at Garden of Memories Cemetery in Lufkin.

Mr. Miller, co-owner and operator of Port Machine, Inc. in Palacios, had been a resident of Palacios since 1950.

Survivors include his widow, Mrs. Marvis Nell Miller of Palacios; daughter, Mrs. Paulette Mumme of Portland; one other son, Kent Miller of Houston; his mother, Mrs. Ruth E. Miller of Palacios; brother, Louis E. Miller of Beaumont, and granddaughter, Christine Danell Miller.

Mr. Miller was a deacon at Trinity Baptist and fellow deacons will serve as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers will be nephews, employees of Port Machine, Inc. and the mayor and members of the Palacios City Council.

No word has been heard of Capt. Miller since his bomber [gunship] was shot down while flying over Laos.

In 1973 Mr. Miller made a trip to Laos in an effort to determine the status of his son, but to no avail.

Friends and classmates of the missing airman have commemorated his memory by planting a “freedom tree: on the lawn of Palacios High School, where he had graduated.

A campaign presently is being conducted to help the families of servicemen missing in Southeast Asia learn the status of their loved ones.

Under the slogan of “We Think It’s Important,” citizens are urged to send a few grains of American soil to Hanoi to show that people care and want these men accounted for.

The Daily Tribune, Friday, August 16, 1974                  Photo courtesy of Pam Davidson

Paul Lee Miller

Paul Lee Miller, 48, of Palacios, passed away August 14, in the St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston. Survivors include: Wife, Mrs. Marvis Nell Miller of Palacios; mother, Mrs. Ruth E. Miller of Palacios; a daughter, Mrs. Paulette Mumme of Portland; 2 sons, Capt. Curtis Daniel Miller missing in action in Viet Nam since March 29, 1972 and Alan Kent Miller of Houston; 2 sisters, Mrs. Aileen Wishard of Houston and Mrs. Ozell Young of Palacios; a brother, Louis E. Miller of Beaumont; one grand child, Christine Danell Miller. Mr. Miller had been a resident of Palacios since 1950 and was a Deacon of the Trinity Baptist Church. Funeral services will be held Saturday, August, 17, at 10:00 a. m. in the Trinity Baptist Church, Palacios. Rev. J. R. Gwin and Rev. Holly Whitfield will be officiating. The interment will be Graveside services at 5:00 p. m. Saturday in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Lufkin. Pallbearers will be the Deacons of the Trinity Baptist Church and Honorary Pallbearers will be nephews, employees of Port Machine, Inc., the mayor and members of the City Council of Palacios. Arrangements will be with the Palacios Funeral Home.

The Daily Tribune, Friday, August 16, 1974


After 38 years of having been listed as “Missing In Action” (MIA) as a result of the Vietnam War, the family of former Palacian and PHS graduate Major Curtis Daniel (Dan) Miller has recently been notified by the U.S. Air Force that his remains have been found.

Services to honor Dan’s love and sacrifice for his country are being planned for 2 p.m. March 29, 2010 (the date he became missing in 1972) at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway in Dallas.

He will be honored with full military honors. All of Dan’s friends, and especially classmates, are invited to attend.

Dan grew up in Palacios. He was the son of Nell and the late Paul Miller.

His father, Paul, was owner and operator of Port Machine & Repair Service and Port Shipyard. His mother, Nell, was a nurse for many years at Wagner General Hospital.

He had a younger brother, Alan Kent, and a sister, Paulette.

Dan graduated in 1964 from Palacios High School where he played football for the Sharks. He also had a leading role in the senior play.

“He was one of only two students his senior year that were selected by the faculty to attend Boy’s State in Austin and learn first hand about state government,” recalls his mother, Nell Miller Smith, who now lives in Huntsville, Tx.

He continued his education at Texas Tech University where he spent four years in the R. O. T. C. Program. During this time he got his desire for flying and to be a pilot. Also, this is where he met his future wife, Susan Rothrock. They were married before he finished college.

Dan graduated from Texas Tech and R. O. T. C as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U. S. Air Force in 1968. Ironically, it was also the same day his brother, Kent, graduated from Palacios High School.

After graduation, Dan was stationed at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio for Intelligence Training. This is where he and Susan became parents to a daughter, Christine Danell, born in September 1969.

He subsequently achieved his great ambition to become a pilot while stationed at Reese AFB in Lubbock. He was eventually assigned to fly an AC-130, a large cargo plane that was re-designed to be a gun ship. While stationed in Florida, he was promoted to Captain.

In late 1971, Dan was sent to Southeast Asia to serve in the Vietnam War. He was stationed at Ubon AFB in Thailand.

On March 29, 1972, with a crew of 14 and flying over the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos at about 3 a.m., the plane was struck and brought down by a surface-to-air missile.

“’Beepers’ were heard that indicated some of the crew had survived the crash. However, after daylight when planes from the base went back to search for survivors, none could be found,” said Nell. “There was hope that the men had gone into hiding in the jungle or had been captured.”

Since that time, the Miller family has spent much time, energy, and money traveling all over the United States, especially to Washington D. C., meeting with elected officials and military personnel trying to find information about the fate of their son and husband.

Dan’s father, along with 51 other family members with a missing loved one, even made a special trip to Laos for information. Laos had promised the release of all U.S. military prisoners-of-war (P. O. W.) in the Fall of 1973 when their ‘special’ government was established after the war.

Unfortunately, this group of 52 returned home very disappointed because the government of Laos stated that it did not have any P. O. W.

“We knew in reality that they did have American P. O. W. because some prisoners were able to escape,” said Nell. “They stated additional live Americans were being held when they escaped.”

Sadly, Dan’s father, Paul, died in August 1974 never knowing the fate of his son.

Nell feels that she lost two men to what she calls “that senseless war”. Paul died with heart problems that Nell feels were a result of a “broken heart” due to Dan being M. I. A. and Paul feeling helpless in being able to find his lost son.

Also, Dan’s only brother, Alan Kent, has died since he became missing.

A “Freedom Tree”, dedicated to the return of all P. O. W. and those missing in action in Southeast Asia, was planted on the grounds of Palacios High School by his classmates in 1973.

Over the many years Dan’s mother and sister, Paulette, have kept yellow ribbons tied to that beautiful growing tree. “We were praying and hoping for Dan’s live return,” Nell said.

Dan is survived by his wife Susan; daughter Christy Miller Hollerich; granddaughter Madison Hollerich; mother Nell Miller Smith; sister Paulette Miller Mumme and husband Bruce; sister-in-law Theresa Miller; and five nieces and one nephew.

Courtesy of The Palacios Beacon, Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Vietnam War casualty buried with honors

By Heather Menzies, Bay City Tribune, Published March 29, 2010

Flags all across Matagorda County will be flying at half-staff on Monday, March 29, in honor of United States Air Force Maj. Curtis "Dan" Miller, Matagorda Countys final unaccounted for casualty of the Vietnam War, being laid to rest with full military honors at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald received written permission from Gov. Rick Perry's office to lower state and national flags in Matagorda County on the day of Maj. Miller's burial.

"On behalf of Governor Perry and this office, let me express our sincere condolences on the loss of this fine Texan," read the email from Gregory S. Davidson, executive clerk to the governor and director of the constituent communication division of the office of the governor.

"Although it has been many years since he was reported missing in action, your community should be proud that is produced a brace and honorable man such as Major Curtis Daniel Miller."

According to law, only the President of the United States and the Governor can order the U.S. flag to half-staff, prompting the need for the request.

The opportunity to lower flags in honor of Miller's sacrifice has been a long-time-coming - exactly 38 years to the day, in fact.

According to an account taken from The Virtual Wall, Miller, a Palacios native, was a co-pilot aboard an AC-130A Hercules Spectre gunship of the 16th Special Operations Squadron that took off with 14 men from Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand on the night of March 29, 1972.

The crew was flying a night reconnaissance mission over supply routes used by North Vietnamese forces in Laos.

The AC-130 was accompanied by a section of F-4 Phantoms.

At about 3 a.m., while attacking a convoy approximately 56 miles east of Savannakhet in southern Laos, the AC-130 was hit by a Surface to Air Missile (SAM).

A few seconds later the AC-130A impacted the ground on the east side of a jungle covered mountain and was consumed by secondary explosions.

As one of the F-4D escorts flew low over the burning wreckage, he was unable see any sign of survivors.

However, several minutes later emergency beeper signals were heard by the F-4D escorts and another AC-130A gunship operating nearby ("Spectre 10") and his escorts.

No voice contact was established with any of the downed aircrew.

Search and rescue efforts began but ended about 6:30 p.m. the next day when no trace of the crew was found.

Major Miller was born in Palacios on June7, 1946 to Paul and Nell Miller and was a graduate of Palacios High School and Texas Tech University.

Miller's father Paul died before his son was found but his mother Nell is a resident of Huntsville and will join his wife Susan and daughter Christy, both of Azle, in welcoming him back to Texas for a final resting place.

Matagorda County commissioners will vote Monday morning on a resolution proclaiming March 29, 2010 as Major Curtis Daniel Miller Day in Matagorda County.

The resolution also supports the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Education Center.

McDonald said Matagorda County should be proud to honor this man and his family on Monday.

"He epitomizes what Americans should be," said McDonald.

"He's just a great American and I'm thankful that the family finally gets to put to rest the question of where he is and where he's been."

March 29 now "Dan Miller Day"

By Heather Menzies, Bay City Tribune, Published April 1, 2010

As friends and family of Air Force Major Curtis Daniel "Dan" Miller prepared to finally lay their loved one to rest at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, Matagorda County Commissioners met to proclaim Monday, March 29, in Miller's honor.

Commissioners also approved a proclamation of support for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Education Center.

The proclamation reads, in part, "Today, after being listed as an MIA (Missing In Action) since March 29, 1972, Major Dan Miller will be laid to rest at Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery with full military honors, coming home to Texas after 38 years, and being the 19th and final casualty of the Vietnam War from Matagorda County."

Flags at the courthouse and around Bay City were lowered to half-staff, with special permission from Texas Governor Rick Perry, in honor of Miller.

Skipper Osborne, Matagorda County's veteran's services coordinator and Vietnam Vet, accepted the proclamation along with VFW Post 2438 Commander Will Greer.

"We're just glad they finally got some closure and Major Miller is back home where he belongs," said Osborne.

As a second part to the proclamation, commissioners will support construction for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Education Center that will be built underground across from The Wall.

According to the proclamation, "the Education Center will feature the Wall of Faces, digital images of the 58,261 casualties memorialized on The Wall, and the Hall of Heroes, representative images of those who have served in other wars, as well as an artifacts collection of more than 100.000 items left as The Wall, and related educational material on site and online."

"The education center will share and celebrate core values of duty, loyalty, respect, service, honor, courage, integrity and stories that must be preserved and shared with future generations."

The proclamation "calls upon citizens of Matagorda County to join (commissioners) in supporting the project to commemorate the sacrifice of Major Curtis Miller, as well as, all who served and died for their country."

The commissioners agreed Monday, March 29, 2010, should forever be remembered as Major Curtis Daniel "Dan" Miller day in Matagorda County in recognition of his service, valor and ultimate sacrifice while representing Matagorda County 38 years ago.


Welcome Home Tree
April 24, 2010

In solemn ceremonies sometimes sprinkled with smiles, laughter and happy memories, U.S. Air Force Major Curtis Daniel “Dan” Miller was posthumously welcomed home to Palacios Saturday with the planting of a “Welcome Home” oak tree on Palacios High School grounds, just west of the softball field.

Miller, a native of Palacios and 1964 PHS graduate, was piloting an Air Force AC-130 gun ship with a crew of 14 when it was shot down March 19, 1972 by a surface-to-air missile while flying over the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. He was listed as “Missing In Action” until it was recently confirmed that his remains had been found.

More than 200 men, women and children were present at the “Welcome Home” tree planting, including Miller’s mother, Nell Miller Smith, and his sister, Paulette Miller Mumme, and some 25 members of the Matagorda County Calvary. Miller’s father, Paul Miller, died in 1974 and younger brother, Alan Kent Miller, a 1968 PHS graduate, also died.

Just before the ceremonies began, a low-flying Coast Guard crew plane tipped its wings as flew over in its landing pattern to the Palacios Airport.

Following the invocation by the Rev. Lewis Rush, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, who also served as master of ceremonies, PHS band director James Popham played the Air Force hymn, “Off We Go Into The Wild Blue Yonder.” Popham also played “Taps” at the close of the ceremonies.

Shannon Miller— no relation, a 1965 PHS graduate, who along with his parents, were close friends of Dan and his family, was the first to speak. “Dan and I spent a lot of our growing up years together,” he noted.

He read a letter from Dan’s widow, Susan, stating that she and daughter, Christy Miller Hollerich, were unable to attend due to a meeting of a foundation she is deeply involved in and that the meeting had been scheduled far in advance of the local ceremonies.

Shannon Miller gave what he called a summary of the March 29 (same date as when Dan became missing) ceremonies at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery where Dan’s remains were buried with full military honors.

“It was fantastic, very, very moving,” Shannon said about the some three-mile long procession and graveside ceremonies, in which the Matagorda County Calvary motorcycle group escorted the procession on about a 30-mile route.

“Even those big 18-wheelers stopped and the drivers got out and saluted as we passed,” he said.

Shannon Miller reported Dan’s wedding ring had been found in Laos several years ago and had been returned to Susan, “all shined up and looking just like new.”


“It’s against Air Force regulations to carry personal effects when on a mission, but that was Dan. He did things his way,” Shannon said.

Dan’s sister, Paulette, read a poem, titled, “My Brother Dan,” which she said took her eight days to write. Excerpts from the poem included the following:


“He could always get teachers & friends to see things his way

“He was sweet & convincing, how he did it I don’t know today

“He was extra fun loving and very, very smart

“Because after all he was a Palacios Shark

“The last time I saw him when he came to town

“We went riding in the ‘55’ T-Bird and the top was down

“He was so proud, just smiling ear to ear

“Driving his car fast & scaring his sister- - he had no fear.

“I know Dan’s in Heaven with my Dad Paul & Kent,

“He was a Christian and that’s where he was sent,

“In my home they appeared--- three angelic male forms,

“They came to calm us during a storm.”

Copies of the complete poem were available at the table where various mementoes and photographs of Dan his family were displayed.

Others speaking at the ceremonies included Calvin Huddleston, who read his poem, “Hero Comes Home;” fellow 1964 PHS graduate Raymond Morgan; Danny Lee, captain of the Matagorda County Cavalry, who also gave a gift to Dan’s sister; and a representative of the Missing In Action (MIA) organization who commended Miller’s mother for her years of traveling across the United States and meeting with elective and military officials trying to find out information on her son.

Several veterans of the Vietnam and Korean “wars” were present. Members of the Palacios VFW Post provided the color guard. Prior to the tree planting, Dan’s mother, who now lives in Huntsville, expressed her thanks to those in attendance.


The Palacios Beacon, Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Fallen Airmen Laid to Rest After 38 Years

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., June 18, 2010 – Unidentified remains of 14 fallen Air Force AC-130 gunship crewmembers were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery here yesterday, nearly 40 years after their aircraft was shot down over southern Laos.

Lt. Col. Henry P. Brauner, Lt. Col. Richard Castillo, Lt. Col. Irving B. Ramsower II, Lt. Col. Howard D. Stephenson, Maj. Curtis D. Miller, Maj. Barclay B. Young, Capt. Richard C. Halpin, Capt. Charles J. Wanzel III, Chief Master Sgt. Edwin J. Pearce, Senior Master Sgt. James K. Caniford, Senior Master Sgt. Robert E. Simmons, Senior Master Sgt. Edward D. Smith Jr., Master Sgt. Merlyn L. Paulson and Master Sgt. William A. Todd were honored in a group burial with full military honors in the cemetery’s Section 60.

The crew was killed in action March 29, 1972, in the midst of the Vietnam War.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Mark D. Shackelford presented an American flag to the families. Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Anthony Wade and Rev. Martin McGill presided over the service.

Full military honors included a flag-draped casket and carrying team, a firing party, a band and bugler, a horse-drawn caisson and escorts from the Air Force Honor Guard. All 14 names will be included on the headstone.

Representatives from the families of 13 of the airmen attended the ceremony. Several members of Rolling Thunder, an advocacy group for the return of all prisoners of war and those missing in action, also attended the service.

 "Individual remains were identified and returned to each of the family members with the exception of  Lt. Col. Brauner's, who was included in the group remains buried Thursday," Larry Greer, a spokesman for the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, said in an interview today with American Forces Press Service.

Young and Caniford were buried here individually in 2008, said Kaitlin Horst, a spokeswoman for the cemetery.

Forensic anthropologists and scientists from the Defense Department are confident all 14 airmen were involved in the crash, Greer said. The scientists used identification tools, circumstantial evidence and DNA tests to match the crewmembers’ remains with their families, Greer said. Scientists also used dental comparisons to identify remains.

“All of these men have been accounted for, and the families have accepted the identification,” Greer said. “These final, full-honor services are to recognize the sacrifices that these men made and their families made, and all of us involved in this mission feel it an honor to bring closure to these families.”

The crew’s plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile during an armed reconnaissance mission. Search and rescue efforts were hindered because of heavy enemy activity in the area and were stopped after only a few days, Greer said.

The first remains were recovered in 1986 by a joint U.S.-Laos team, Greer said. Recovered items included two identification tags, life support equipment and aircraft wreckage, he added.

Between 1986 and 1998, nine members of the aircrew were positively identified. Follow-on surveys and excavations in 2005 and 2006 found more remains, personal effects and other equipment, he said.

The remains of more than 900 service members killed in the Vietnam War have been returned to their families since 1972. More than 1,700 remain unaccounted-for.

In the past year, the Joint Prisoners of War and Missing in Action Accounting Command has accounted for 98 service members missing from the Korean War, Vietnam War and World War II. More than 80,000 service members from the three wars remain unaccounted-for. Nearly 2,000 from the same wars have been accounted for and returned to their families.

Department of Defense Non-Commercial Use of Imagery

An Air Force honor guard carries a casket holding unidentified remains during a burial service at Arlington National Cemetery, June 17, 2010. The ceremony honored 14 airmen who were killed in March 1972 when their aircraft was shot down over southern Laos. DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden

Families observe as an Air Force honor guard folds the flag that draped a casket containing unidentified remains during a burial service at Arlington National Cemetery, June 17, 2010. The ceremony honored 14 airmen who were killed in March 1972 when their aircraft was shot down over southern Laos. DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden

An Air Force honor guard provides honors at a burial service at Arlington National Cemetery, June 17, 2010. The ceremony honored 14 airmen who were killed in March 1972 when their aircraft was shot down over southern Laos. DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden

Members of Rolling Thunder, a Vietnam War veterans group that works for the return of prisoners of war and those missing in action, pay their respects during a burial service at Arlington National Cemetery, June 17, 2010. The ceremony honored 14 airmen killed in March 1972 when their aircraft was shot down over southern Laos. DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden

Post-Vietnam H model Gunship

Links to Additional Information About Maj. Miller

Spectre Association - Prometheus Crew Pictures (2nd crew on page)
Various Patches From the 16th SOS
Task Force Omega Inc.
Map of Crash Site
The War Against Trucks Aerial Interdiction in Southern Laos 1968 - 1972
Ubon Air Base Today
16th Special Operations Squadron Pictures


"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth...

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

High Flight
by John Gillespie Magee

Ubon Airfield - 1972
Courtesy of Spectre-Association. Used by permission of P. J. Cook, Webmaster

Vietnam Veterans Memorial rubbing courtesy of Anette Uher.

School Days          Photos of Burial          Prometheus          16th SOS Patches         

POW/MIA flag courtesy of Wilson's Gifs and Animations

Copyright 2006 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Feb. 5, 2006
Apr. 22, 2010