Miller, Alton Glenn

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Miller, Alton Glenn, born 01-03-1940, on a farm in Clarinda, Iowa, to Lewis Elmer Miller and Mattie Lou. He went to grade school in North Platte in western Nebraska. In 1915, Miller’s family moved to Grant City, Missouri. Around this time, Miller had finally made enough money from milking cows to buy his first trombone and played in the town orchestra. In 1918, the Miller family moved again, this time to Fort Morgan, Colorado, where Miller went to high school. During his senior year, Miller became very interested in a new style of music called “dance band music.” He was so taken with it that he formed his own band with some classmates. By the time Miller graduated from high school in 1921, he had decided he wanted to become a professional musician. In 1935, he assembled an American orchestra for British bandleader Ray Noble, developing the arrangement of lead clarinet over four saxophones  that eventually became the sonic keynote of his own big band. Miller co-wrote with Billy May the instrumental “Boom Shot” for the Orchestra Wives soundtrack. Miller was contracted to do a third movie for Fox, Blind Date, but as he entered the U.S. Army, this never panned out. In 1942, at the peak of his civilian career, Miller decided to join the war effort. At 38, Miller was too old to be drafted, and first volunteered for the Navy but was told that they did not need his services. Miller then wrote to Army Brigadier General Charles Young. He persuaded the United States Army to accept him so he could, in his own words, “be placed in charge of a modernized Army band.” After being accepted into the Army, Glenn’s civilian band played its last concert in Passaic, New Jersey. on 27-09-1942. At first placed in the United States Army, Glenn Miller was transferred to the Army Air Force. Captain Glenn Miller served initially as assistant special services officer for the Army Air Forces Southeast Training Center at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama, in December 1942. He played trombone with the Rhythmaires, a 15-piece dance band, in both Montgomery and in service clubs and recreation halls on Maxwell. Miller also appeared on both Birmingham, Alabama and WSFA radio (Montgomery), promoting the activities of civil service women aircraft mechanics employed at Maxwell. In summarizing Miller’s military career, General James “Jimmy” Doolittle     said, “next to a letter from home, that organization was the greatest morale builder in the European Theater of Operations.” Miller spent his last night alive at Milton Ernest Hall, on the outskirts of Bedford, Bedfordshire. On 15-12-1944, Miller was to fly from the United Kingdom to Paris, France, to play for the soldiers there. His plane, a single-engined UC-64 Norseman, USAAF serial 44-70285) departed from RAF Twinwood Farm in Clapham, Bedfordshire and disappeared while flying over the English Channel. No trace of the aircrew, passengers or plane has ever been found. Miller’s status is missing in action. There are three main theories about what happened to Miller’s plane, including the suggestion that he might have been hit by Royal Air Force bombs after an abortive raid on Siegen, Germany. One hundred and thirty-eight Lancaster bombers, short on fuel, jettisoned approximately 100,000 incendiaries in a designated area before landing. The logbooks of Royal Air Force navigator Fred Shaw recorded that he saw a small, single-engined monoplane spiraling out of control and crashing into the water. However, a second source, while acknowledging the possibility, cites other RAF crew members flying the same mission who stated that the drop area was in the North Sea. On Arlington Cemetery is a memorial stone for Miller. His Moonlight Serenade is an understanding for war veterans.

 

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