Miley, William Maynadier “Bud”, born 26-12-1897 at Fort MacArthur in California, to Sara Miley and Lieutenant Colonel John D. Miley, for whom Fort Miley Military Reservation was named. His family had a long history of military service, with three generations before him serving in the United States Army. Two great-grandfathers, his grandfather, his father, his great-uncle, his uncle and his son all graduated from West Point. Miley himself attended West Point, where he earned a national intercollegiate championship in gymnastics, in the tumbling, rings, and parallel bars events, and graduated in 1918. Immediately after graduation he served in the First Division in France, during World War I. Following World War I, Miley held a series of assignments, including as a professor of military science at what was then Mississippi State College, in Starkville, Mississippi. It was during this time that he met and married his wife, Julia Sudduth. Other assignments included serving as Athletic Director at West Point, and infantry assignments in Panama, the Philippines, and at Fort Sam Houston. In 1940, Miley, then holding the rank of major, was ordered to organize and command the United States Army’s first parachute unit, the 501st Parachute Battalion . After his promotion to lieutenant colonel, he was ordered to organize and command the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, nickname “The Rock” . Shortly afterward he was appointed Assistant Division Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, serving under General Matthew Bunker Ridgway
. Casualties during the European campaign, 1.619 killed in action, 6.560 wounded in action and 332 died of wounds. In 1943, Miley organized the activation of the 17th Airborne Division, nickname “Golden Talons” at Camp Mackall in North Carolina. He was the sole commander of the 17th during the war, leading the Division through such actions as the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Varsity
The Battle of the Bulge involved about 610.000 American men, of whom some 89.000 were casualties, including 19.000 killed. It was the largest and bloodiest battle fought by the United States in World War II. During World War II, most U.S. black soldiers still served only as truck drivers and as stevedores (except for some separate tank, tank destroyer, and artillery battalions as well as in Army Air Force fighter units). In the midst of the Battle of the Bulge, General Eisenhower was severely short of replacement troops for existing military units which were totally white in composition. Consequently, he made the decision to allow African American soldiers to pick up a weapon and join the white military units to fight in combat for the first time. More than 2.000 black soldiers had volunteered to go to the front. This was an important step toward a desegregated United States military. A total of 708 African Americans were killed in combat during World War II. The Division was deactivated in 1945, but reactivated briefly in 1948 as a training unit. After the war, Miley was appointed to command the 11th Airborne Division, nickname “Angels” while it occupied Japan, and after its return to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He had several later assignments, including serving as Director of the Joint Airborne Troop Board, Commander of United States Army Alaska, under the Alaskan Command. He also served as Chief of Staff of the former Continental Army Command, which became The United States Army Forces Command in 1973. He retired from the military in 1955, with a rank of Major General. Following his retirement from the military, Miley worked for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Beane, until his retirement in 1976, at which time he returned to Starkville, Mississippi. He had the distinction of being the last living division commander of World War II.
Death and burial ground of Miley, William Maynadier “Bud”.
He died in Starkville on 24-09-1997, very old age 99 and is buried on the Odds Fellows Cemetery, Starkville, Oktibbeha County, Mississipi.