William Cicero Miller was born in 1919. He lived in North Carolina, Thomasville, Route 2.
Miller entered the Navy in 1938 after graduation from Fairgrove High School and was a Radioman First Class on the USS Davidson. It is assumed that Miller was assigned to an American plane during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and was acting as a rear gunner in a Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless aircraft, Scouting Squadron Six. He was credited with downing a Japanese plane before being fatally wounded, at age 22, during the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, according to a letter from the commanding officer to his parents. He was rear gunner for Lt. Clarence E. Dickinson, Jr., pilot, who safely bailed out of the plane after it was riddled by Japanese planes. Miller however was already dead or unable to exit the airplane before it crashed into a cane field.
Newspaperclipping about William Miller being KIA
The letter from the commanding officer follows:
“My dear Mr. Miller:
In the name of the officers and men of Scouting Sqaudron Six I wish to extend to you our sincerest sympathy in the tragic loss of your son” W. C. Miller, who was killed in action against the Japanese on the Island of Oahu on December 7, 1941.
“I realize that your personal loss is greater than ours but I hope you will find some consolation in the fact that your son was extremely well liked by his officers and men for his excellent character and devotion to duty. I know you will be glad to hear that he has been given official credit for the downing of a Japanese plane before he was fatally wounded. “Again let me express, on behalf of the officers and men and myself, our deepest symphaty for your sad and sudden loss.
“W. E. Gallaher,
“Lieutenant U.S. Navy
Because of his heroic actions, a U.S. warship, The USS William C. Miller was named for him. He was one of the first to inflict a casualty upon the Japanese in WWII, and was one of the first U.S. casualties.
The family and William C. Miller were well know and liked in the vicinity they lived. William Cicero Miller was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Melvin B. Miller, and two sisters, Beatrice of the home and Paulene of the North Carolina School for Deaf and Morganton, and one brother Bobby, of the home.
USS William C. Miller DE-259