Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Francis Carey Miller, March 12, 2022

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:00 - Early life

Play segment

Partial Transcript: This is Alexander Friedberg interviewing Carey Miller.

Segment Synopsis: Miller briefly describes his early life, growing up in Middlesex County, Virginia. Miller says his earliest recollection of his childhood was his father working in the shipyards of Newport News, during World War II. Miller discusses growing up with three sisters as the only boy in the family. Miller mentions that he applied to the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech after graduating high school.

Keywords: Corps of Cadets; Virginia Tech; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War Two

Subjects: Middlesex County (Va.); Newport News (Va.); Shipyards; Virginia Polytechnic Institute; World War II

00:06:39 - Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So then what made your decision to enroll in the Corp of Cadets at Virginia Tech?

Segment Synopsis: Miller discusses why he chose the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech rather than at University of Virginia. Miller recounts how his high school principal advised him to choose Virginia Tech rather than University of Virginia, as UVA was much more expensive than Virginia Tech and Miller wouldn't be able to afford it.

Keywords: Cessnas; Corps of Cadets; ROTC; Virginia Tech University

Subjects: National Merit Scholarship Corporation (U.S.); Reserve Officers' Training Corps (U.S.); University of Virginia; Virginia Polytechnic Institute

GPS: Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.
Map Coordinates: 37.22843553559535, -80.42341133780033
00:11:26 - First Military Assignment

Play segment

Partial Transcript: That turned out to be in my, my first assignment--

Segment Synopsis: After graduating from Virginia Tech, Miller received his first military assignment at Fort Still, Oklahoma. Miller worked for two years in the Office of Artillery, working a desk job. During his time at Fort Still, Miller fostered relationships with the officers, mingling with them in the bars and gaining information from them.

Keywords: Office of Artillery; Vision Test

Subjects: Fort Sill (Okla.); Vision--Testing

GPS: Fort Sill location
Map Coordinates: 34.59769588756148, -98.41919812754367
00:16:00 - Flight school

Play segment

Partial Transcript: How did that make you feel?

Segment Synopsis: Miller describes receiving his assignment to attend flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, which lasted three months. Miller says that afterwards he spent a short time flying missions over Alabama until he was sent to Vietnam shortly after graduation. He shares some of the difficulties in learning how to fly helicopters.

Keywords: Helicopter training

Subjects: Alabama; Flight training; Fort Rucker (Ala.); Helicopters; Officers' Club; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

GPS: Location of Fort Rucker.
Map Coordinates: 31.340289363857043, -85.71539897572289
00:28:08 - Ordered to Vietnam

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I got a sign, you know--

Segment Synopsis: Miller says that after graduation from Flight School he spent a short time with his family in Virginia and Massachusetts over Thanksgiving. He mentions that he also had a quickly planned and small wedding to Bette Lee before beginning his assignment in Vietnam. Miller describes his assignment to the Cam Rahn Base, where he served as a helicopter pilot.

Keywords: Bette Lee; Cam Ranh Bay; Flight school; South Vietnam

Subjects: Cam Ranh (Vietnam); Helicopter pilots; Langley Air Force Base (Va.); Massachusetts; Middlesex County (Va.); South China Sea; Thanksgiving; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

GPS: Cam Rahn Base (now Cam Rahn International Airport) location.
Map Coordinates: 11.998056, 109.219444
00:36:08 - Assignment in Vietnam

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So what was your assignment while you were over in Vietnam?

Segment Synopsis: Miller describes his tasks, which could range from carrying troops to escorting high ranking officers. Miller describes an assignment where he escorted a Colonel so he could coordinate with the troops in Cam Rahn Base.

Keywords: Cam Ranh Bay; Colonels; South Vietnam

Subjects: Cam Ranh (Vietnam); Helicopters; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:40:20 - Bill Carpenter's Unit

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And, before long he called Bill Carpenter's unit.

Segment Synopsis: Miller says that one of the units that the Colonel coordinated with was Bill Carpenter's, a renowned college football player who played as a split end for the Army. Millers says Carpenter's unit provided coordinates of enemy forces, which resulted in the air force dropping napalm on the area.

Keywords: Army Football; Bill Carpenter; South Vietnam; Split end (football); Viet Cong; Vietcong; Việt-Cộng

Subjects: Mặt trận dân tộc giải phóng miền nam Việt Nam.; Napalm; United States. Air Force.; United States. Army.; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:43:24 - Experiences with the Colonel

Play segment

Partial Transcript: The other plane came in--

Segment Synopsis: Miller discusses some of the experiences he had with a Colonel in Vietnam. Miller remembers when the Viet Cong were attacking the Colonel's troops and the Colonel used Miller's helicopter as a way to quickly coordinate with his units on the ground.

Keywords: Basket boats; Colonels; South Vietnam; Viet Cong; Vietcong; Việt-Cộng

Subjects: Helicopters; Mặt trận dân tộc giải phóng miền nam Việt Nam.; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

00:49:51 - Tuy-Hoa Airport

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Oh yeah, I was working one day.

Segment Synopsis: Miller recalls a memorable experience from when he was assigned a flyover mission at Tuy-Hoa airport. He also recalls flying other visitors from the United States who were there to observe and understand the war.

Keywords: Door gunners; South Vietnam; South Vietnamese military; Tuy-Hoa base; Tuy-Hoa mountain

Subjects: Helicopters; Tuy Hòa (Vietnam); Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

GPS: Tuy-Hoa Airpot location.
Map Coordinates: 13.049444, 109.333611
00:55:57 - Riding with reporters

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So do you have any other stories about like, you know, either dropping off or picking people up?

Segment Synopsis: Miller recalls a funny incident that occurred while giving a ride to a reporter from the United States. He also recalls flying over the Mekong River where he could see Cambodia.

Keywords: Reporters; South Vietnam; Special forces camp

Subjects: Cambodia; Helicopters; Journalists.; Mekong River; Reporters and reporting.; United States; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Vomit

01:01:54 - Helicopter crash

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Tell me about, like, some of the scariest moments that you had over there.

Segment Synopsis: Miller says his scariest moment during the war was when he crashed his helicopter. Miller describes landing his helicopter between two trees to talk to troops on the ground, but when it came time to take off, the rotor blade of Miller's helicopter clipped one of the trees, leading the helicopter to crash. He talks about how the rotor blade of the helicopter ended up flying off and cut off the foot of a friendly soldier.

Keywords: South Vietnam; Wounded in action

Subjects: Helicopter pilots; Helicopters; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

01:08:59 - Reflections on the Vietnam War

Play segment

Partial Transcript: It was useless.

Segment Synopsis: Towards the end of the war, Miller was assigned back towards the United States, ending his involvement in the Vietnam war. Reflecting on his experience in Vietnam, Miller believes the war was pointless and served no purpose. Miller says he was sad after this revelation because he believed Vietnam was a beautiful country and hated seeing it torn apart.

Keywords: North Vietnam; South Vietnam; Sông Bé; Tuy-Hoa Air base

Subjects: Phước Bình (Binh Phước, Vietnam); Tuy Hòa (Vietnam); Vietnam War, 196-1975

01:12:43 - Returning home

Play segment

Partial Transcript: No, no, I came home, got out and I was done.

Segment Synopsis: Miller talks about being glad that his part in the war was over and that he was excited to be back home. Miller says he did not have issues with the way Vietnam veterans were treated and was just glad to be back home, and ended up starting a family with his wife after the war. Miller reiterates that he believes Vietnam is a beautiful country and would like to return to the country again, despite his experiences in the war.

Keywords: Homecoming

Subjects: Veterans; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975