Heritage Hall honors original Flying Tiger

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jasmine M. Barnes
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

The 23rd Wing established a memorial display in Heritage Hall to honor Maj. Don Miller, an original Flying Tiger in February 2022.

After Miller’s memorial service, his family donated his World War II memorabilia containing his uniform, flight log, squadron patch and more to Mark “Radio” Godwin, 23rd Wing historian to showcase Miller’s importance to Flying Tiger history.

“When I went to leave, (the family) said, ‘Hey Radio, our dad would want you to have this stuff,’ and they loaded my truck with boxes,” Godwin said. “They said ‘We felt that it would be better if (the items) were put in the hands of somebody that would appreciate it and put it on display.’ I was honored to know that they gave me that stuff.”

Miller served as a pilot for the 1st Air Commando Group and the 75th Fighter Squadron during World War II. In the display, his pilot diploma from 1943 is shown to mark the beginning of his career. His flight logbook also lies open in the case to show the sorties he accomplished as a Flying Tiger.

“During the war in the Burma area, (Miller) transported the wounded in less than 30 minutes (although) it would have taken two weeks by ground,” Godwin said. “Another cool thing is that he did his initial pilot training at Avon Park, which is now assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group.”

While serving under Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault, a World War II leader of the Flying Tigers, Miller successfully accomplished 162 missions. During that time, Miller flew three aircraft to include the P-40 Warhawk with the iconic shark teeth painted on the nose.

“After the war, (Miller) continued to be an active member of the Flying Tiger associations and reunions, including writing newsletters for the group and attendance at reunions until shortly before his death,” said Lt. Col. Edward Brady, 75th FS commander. “His contributions were significant enough that David “Tex” Hill, the World War II commander of the 23rd Fighter Group and the 75th Fighter Squadron, treated Don Miller as his right-hand man for association events.”

The Don Miller memorial is a token of paying homage to the Flying Tigers’ history, and this is an opportunity to take a step back and recognize those who paved the way.

“In his heart, (Miller) remained a Flying Tiger and Tiger Shark for his entire life and actively contributed to those organizations for decades,” said Brady. “Don’s gift to the wing is an excellent example of his long-standing desire to help the 23rd FG remember its heritage and honor those who came before us.”