Call of duty

Asbury Park resident Jim Miller holds a plaque honoring his 29 years in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Jim Miller seems to believe in duty and serving his country. He spent three and a half years in the military during World War II and a great deal more years in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

?I just did what I had to do and what I ought to do,? he said, sitting in his room at Asbury Park, a retirement community in Newton. ?That sort of thing.?

Miller was in the military because he enlisted ? he wasn?t drafted. The 93-year-old Newton resident said he was part of a crew in the air force branch of the military, although he never served overseas. He was sent to the middle of the United States, he said, to prepare to go ?over there,? but was sent back to where he originally was stationed, which was Rosecrans Field in St. Joseph, Mo.

?I started three times ? never got anyplace,? Miller said.

During his first year at Rosecrans, Miller said, ?I checked everything and everybody.? After that, he was given an office job. During his time at Rose?crans, Miller saw several U.S. presidents, such as Truman. He didn?t have a chance to talk to any of them, however.

?I got tired of it, and they knew it,? he said about his office job. ?So, they took me and sent me to a school on the East Coast.?

At this school, Miller learned about airplanes and ended his military career with the rank of sergeant.

?I knew airplanes,? he said. ?I had been in and out of them all the time in the Guard.?

One thing Miller did with airplanes was crawl into them to keep warm, away from the howling Missouri wind, he said.

His ability to fly a plane later would be used at least once in the FBI. Miller was in the FBI from 1948 until his retirement in 1977. Miller spent most of his time in Missouri; he has a plaque on his wall from the FBI honoring his years of service.

His duties in the FBI were many. ?I was an accountant, but I did a lot of things,? he said. ?I put a lot of people in jail.?

He would participate in investigations and then arrest people, he said, although he doesn?t know how many.

?They had a hundred types of violations, and I could investigate any of them,? Miller said.

The federal violations included bank robbery and kidnapping.

?We?d get up and go ? everything,? Miller said.

He did enjoy his job.

?I liked it because you moved around,? Miller said. ?You did different things. You didn?t sit behind a desk all the time.?

One time on an airplane, Miller said an ?ol? boy? came to him and asked if he remembered him. The man said, ?You ought to. You put me in jail.?

Another time, Miller rode in a DC3 plane from Kansas City to the West Coast, and the pilot and co-pilot were young men who had been drinking. They asked Miller if he could fly the plane, and he said yes. So, they fell asleep and let him fly until they arrived at Reno, Nev., where the pilots woke up and landed the plane.

?I could fly it after it got in the air,? Miller said about the experience, which happened around 1948.

Early in his FBI career, Miller said he was assigned to three Kansas counties, although he was sent to other places in the state, too.

?I was a clerk in the FBI to start with, and they?d move you around,? he said.

Miller was assistant chief clerk in Cincinnati for less than a year while he waited for another opportunity in the FBI to come along.

He didn?t, however, like everything about his FBI career.

?A job you have that long ? there are certain things you don?t like, but you do it anyway,? Miller said.

One of those jobs was being a night clerk from midnight to 8 a.m. with only a guard there to keep him company.

After retirement, Miller didn?t just sit around.

?(I did) a little bit of odds and ends,? he said. He kept busy. ?You got to.?

When Miller came home at night, he didn?t have a solitary life. He was married to his first wife, Emma, for more than 20 years, and they didn?t have any children. After she died, he married Carol, who had six children. His first wife is buried in Ohio, and his second in Hutchinson.

Before any of this happened, Miller was born on Jan. 3, 1922, in the hills of West Virginia.

?It was hills ? nothin? else,? Miller said.

When he was 8 or 9 years old, the family moved to Cincinnati. He had two brothers and one sister. They and his parents are no longer living.

?Everybody?s gone,? Miller said. ?I?m the only one.?

Article and photos by Wendy Nugent

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