"In the spring of ’42 in June, I had to go to the service. My number was called, and I left from York in a busload of York County fellows all on their way to the service. They first took us to Omaha. And then we were checked physically. And then we were sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. And from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, we was sent to – I was sent to Camp Crowder, Missouri, to take my basic training. And of course, having been in ROTC [Reserve Office Training Corps], why the commanding officer put me in charge of our company. So, then we were all split up after we took our basic training. And they sent me back to Omaha to electronics school where I took radio training with the bug and key, because everything was done with dots and dashes in those days. And we learned how to handle the five-code system. And then also they had cryptographic people there that encoded and decoded. Learned how to do that…
   "We were to go overseas, and they sent us back. Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco, and we loaded the ship there in San Francisco. Sailed out of there, and of course from there we went to Wellington, New Zealand, and from there to Melbourne, Australia. Around the south side of Australia, which is a rough ride I'll tell you. And then we went from there to Bombay, India. So then we went into Port Said and that's where we unloaded. Port Said is the southeast corner of the Suez Canal…
   "They asked us to get a group of men together so we could take the 16th field hospital to the front lines. Cape Pons. Of course, to get there we had to go through from Cairo to Alexandria to El Alamein. The Battle of El Alamein… El Alamein was a battleground where there was hundreds and hundreds of destroyed tanks and armor of all kinds. Trucks and everything, both of Italians and the Germans… After that, my group of men, we went back to Cairo. And they took us in to – for headquarters where we were supposed to be in the first place…
   "I was chief radio operator. In 1943, the Mien House was where they had the Mien House [also known as the Cairo] Conference with Change Kai-shek, Churchill and President Roosevelt… I met with another guy, and we went uptown when the Mien House Conference was on. And we picked up Mrs. Change Kai-shek and took her back to the billets, which they called them, the housing situation… They had that conference.
   "And then the final conference that we did radio work for was at Yalta… The war was moving so fast that we got bombed every night. We were several nights in Tripoli. We called him Bedcheck Charlie, let us have it. And of course, we either went to dugouts or to bomb shelters in Tripoli. And of course, at that time the Germans and the Italians were coming in at the rate of 10 to 15,000 a day. They were bringing them in as prisoners [of war]…
   "The Office of Strategic Services also in the Cairo area, those boys that leave there to go drop behind the lines."
   Question: "These are the spies."
   Question: "Did you know any of them?"
   "Yeah, played cards with some of them. Can't remember their names."
   Question: "What were they like?"
   "Nice guys. They were – you know, they were U.S. soldiers doing their job. They happened to be involved in OSS, Office of Strategic Services…
   Question: "The war ends. Do you remember V-E Day?"
   Question: "Where were you? What happened?"
   "We were in Cairo. We knew that we'd get to go home shortly thereafter, which we did."
   Question: "What did you feel?"
   "We thought it was great. But we loaded at Port Suez next to the Mediterranean. We loaded the U.S.S. Chrystobel which was a converted United States fruit ship. We were loaded heavy. And we were one or two days outside the Mediterranean into the Atlantic Ocean, and we experienced one of the worst hurricanes that I ever want to go through. In fact, we all prayed that we'd keep the prop going because it was the only thing that was stabilizing us in that storm. But it's a rough storm to be in, let me tell you…
   "We landed in Virginia. And immediately put us on trains, and we come back into Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. And then I was released there. And then I come home on the train to Omaha, and my folks picked me up there… My granddad was sick in the hospital at Omaha, and he was waiting to see me so he could die. That's what he told 'em. And so I went up to see him. And he did, he passed away the next day. So then, I immediately went to David City where my wife was to be, and I got to meet her there. Then, I went home to see my mother and the rest of my family, my other two brothers."

Holly Miller on his War Experiences


Other Excerpts from Holly Miller's Interview:

Holly's Wife Lenore as Rosie the Riveter
The Blizzards of 1948 & ’49
Draft Deferments for Farm Workers
Starting Business
Changes in Combines
War Surplus
Postwar Fertilizer Boom
Broadleaf and Grass Herbicides