Virgil Rasmuss Miller
NO. 7577 CLASS OF 1924
Died 5 August 1968 in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
aged 67 years.
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery,
“WE GROPE FOR WORDS. Someone important and meaningful has gone, and we are less than we were before; yet the spirit of the man, the qualities and ideals embodied in this friend and leader, live on in each of us. He will not be forgotten.” So wrote Frank Fukuzawa in the 442d Newsletter. Colonel Virgil Rasmuss Miller was born on 11 November 1900 in San German, Puerto Rico. He entered the United States Military Academy in 1920 and graduated as an Infantry Second Lieutenant in June 1924. He and his friend and classmate, Oswaldo de la Rosa, were the first Puerto Rican born Americans to be graduated from West Point. The following spring, he married Ann McGoughran in Orange, New Jersey. Five children were born to them, two of whom preceded him in death. Dad’s military career began with service in the Puerto Rican Home Guard during World War I and ended with his retirement in September 1954. From graduation until 1940, he served at stateside posts and with the 65th Infantry in Puerto Rico. In 1940, he was transferred to Hawaii, where he served with the 21st Infantry Brigade and the 24th Infantry Division. Wartime service began with the attack on Pearl Harbor, followed by duty at Fort McClellan, and assignment in June 1943 as Executive Officer of the 442d Regimental Combat Team. There followed three years which he described as “the most satisfactory and rewarding of my thirty years of service,” during which he and the 442d participated in the Rome-Arno, Germany, North Appenines, and Po Valley Campaigns in Italy and France. In October 1944, Dad assumed command of the 442d. Under his leadership the Combat Team effected the relief of the “Lost Battalion” (First Battalion, 141st Infantry, 36th Division) which had been isolated behind the German lines near Bruyeres, France. In 1945, in the regiment’s last campaign, he planned and executed the attack which broke the Gothic Line on the west coast of Italy and led the 442d in the capture of Mount Folgorito, Massa, Carrara, the German naval base at La Spezia, and Turin. In June 1946, Dad relinquished command of the 442d and remained in Italy until the spring of 1947. Subsequent duty took him to Turkey as Infantry Adviser and to Pennsylvania State College, Lehigh University, and the University of Michigan as Professor of Military Science and Tactics. For his wartime service, Dad, in addition to the Combat Infantryman Badge, was awarded the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, and the Presidential Unit Citation. The First French Army awarded him the Croix de Guerre, and the French Armee des Alpes presented him with the Croix de Guerre with Gold Star. Prince Umberto of Italy personally presented him with the Croce al Merito di Guerra. In addition, he received the Asiatic-Pacific Medal with one battle star, American Defense Medal, European Theatre Medal with four battle stars, Mediterranean Theatre Medal, National Service Defense Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. Dad was always extremely proud of his service with the 442d and for the rest of his life remained in close touch with its members, following and taking great pride in their peacetime accomplishments. He once wrote: “Of the honors I have received, I am most proud of the Combat Infantryman Badge, earned with the unit, and the fact that I received a battlefield promotion to Colonel as a member of the unit.” Following retirement in 1954, he became a Research Associate at the University of Michigan Institute of Science and Technology, from which position he retired in 1963. Dad died 5 August 1968, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. When informed of his death, the 100th Battalion, 442d Infantry, with the assistance of Senator Daniel K. Inouye, sent the Regimental Colors from Schofield Barracks to be carried by the Honor Guard in the funeral procession— an impressive and fitting farewell to a great and dedicated leader. Survivors are his widow Ann Miller; three children, William G. Miller of Ann Arbor, Richard A. Miller of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Julia M. Vokac of Inkster, Michigan; seven grandchildren; a brother Horace G. Miller of Milwaukee; and a sister Edith Macaulay of Chappaqua, New York. The world is a much poorer place since he left it. We shall miss him. – W.G.M.
Col. Virgil R. Miller served as 65th Regimental Commander from Jan 5, 1945 to Jan 17, 1945.