Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

December 5, 2013

Local coach involved in ID process for WWII soldier

JOPLIN — An unusual name could lead to the identification of the remains of a World War II soldier, Norman Lloyd Miller, who was killed in action more than 70 years ago in New Guinea.

Earl Miller and Jim Miller, nephews of the soldier, and other members of the Miller family in the Joplin area learned of the development a couple of days before Thanksgiving. That’s when their brother, Elzy Miller, of Tahlequah, was contacted by a federally funded search firm that was looking for surviving members of Norman Miller’s family.

“What a Thanksgiving this has been for our family,” said Earl Miller, of Joplin. “We hope it turns out to be him so he can finally be put to rest.”

When Norman Miller enlisted in the Army, he listed his father, Elzie Miller, of Lake City, Mich., as next of kin. The Miller family had always presumed that the soldier, age 25 at the time of his death, had been killed in action in 1942 in New Guinea. Some in the family speculated that he could have been a victim of cannibalism by one of the Stone Age tribes that inhabited the island’s tropical rain forests.

Elzie Miller was notified of his son’s death. The Army said Norman Miller was “presumed dead or missing in action.” Official records show the last contact the Army had with the family was in 1947.

A turning point

The turning point in the search for surviving members of Norman Miller’s family can be traced to 2007 and the death of Garnett Greninger, of Joplin. Greninger had married one of Norman Miller’s brothers, Eugene. She had named one of her sons, Elzy, after his grandfather, Elzie. Michael Strauss, a research genealogist with SNA International in Virginia Beach, Va., recently came across her obituary in The Joplin Globe, and the name Elzy Miller triggered a question in his mind.

“Norman Miller was an unmarried soldier who enlisted in 1942,” Strauss said. “He was a single man with no children. He listed his parents as nearest next of kin. That’s all we had to go on. But could this family in Joplin be linked to his father, Elzie Miller, of Lake City, Mich.?

“A surname of Miller - well, it’s like a surname of Smith, it’s a common surname. But it was the odd first name that provided the connection.”

After reading the obituary, Strauss contacted Elzy Miller in Tahlequah, and would learn in that first call that Miller had a couple of cousins living in Michigan.

The Department of the Army uses the services of SNA International to conduct genealogy research in an effort to identify the primary next of kin and closest DNA living relatives for soldiers who remain “unaccounted for” from World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Now that contact with the family has been re-established, male and female members of the family, including some in Michigan, will be asked to give DNA samples - both Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA - to determine whether the Army has the remains of Norman Miller in its possession.

“Our role in this program is to be the initial conduit between the Army and the families,” Strauss said. “In essence we are the researchers hired to locate family members so that, once identified and located, the Army can reach out to them.”

Strauss said there are thousands of cases to be researched.

Wait and see

There are, in fact, 83,000 cases to be researched, according to Cherri Lawless, with the Army Past Conflict Repatriations Branch.

How many cases are resolved annually?

“That happens about 85 times a year,” Lawless said.

Lawless said representatives of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, are in Papua, New Guinea. Teams also are working in Vietnam, Laos and Corsica.

“They have been there several weeks now doing recoveries in Papua,” she said. “They don’t know who they are recovering. They look at who was lost in that area. When the remains come back, the DNA from those who were lost in that area will be compared to the DNA of the families.”

Strauss said: “The Army will have the remains, and they could have Norman Miller’s, but they don’t have a clue about who they are. That’s why they need DNA samples from the family, including the oldest living male and three from the mother’s side, to determine if the Army has the remains.”

In the meantime, Jim Miller, of Joplin, keeps a photo of his missing uncle, Norman Miller, with a group of family photos that pay tribute to veterans in the family.

“I was amazed that after all of these years they are still looking, and that we could be hearing that they have the remains of our uncle,” he said. “But, it’s kind of regretful that none of his brothers and sisters are alive to realize this has taken place.”

Wally Kennedy writes for the Joplin Globe.

1
Text Only
Features
  • sp-symposium-art-panel.jpg Panelists discuss impact of Southeastern art

    Until recently, most people had a certain expectation of American Indian art – and it didn’t include images familiar to people in and around Cherokee County.
    “A lot of times, when people think about Native art, they immediately think of Plains art or Southwestern art,” said Roy Boney (Cherokee), Tahlequah artist and moderator of the panel discussion “Southeastern Indian Art: Building Community and Raising Awareness,” held Friday, April 11, at the NSU Symposium on the American Indian.
    Boney and the other panelists are frustrated by the divide between mainstream expectations of Native American art and their need for genuine self-expression.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Teacher.jpg Dickerson believes in putting the student first

    As a child growing up in Elk City, Cherokee Elementary teacher Debra Dickerson lined up the neighborhood children and animals to play school.
    “I’ve been a teacher ever since I could talk. My mother always said she knew where I was because she could hear me bossing everyone,” she said.
    The classroom then was a blanket tossed over limbs of her big cherry tree on Eisenhower Street. Recess was spent tree-climbing, running, riding in the bus (her red wagon) and being creative.
    “Those were the days before video games and TV,” she said.
    Dickerson, 2013-’14 Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year, believes a classroom should be a safe haven for children, because school is often the best part of their day.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • kh-trash-pickup.jpg Cleaning things up

    Lowrey was part of the Cherokee Nation’s Career Service Center contingency of 11 volunteers. Other volunteers cleaned up trash along the roadway from the Cherokee Casino to the NSU campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-NinthAmendment.jpg Right to privacy leans partly on Article 9

    While the other articles of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are straightforward – at least, enough for Americans to bicker over in court – the Ninth Amendment might cause a bit of confusion.
    It reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    There are no rights enumerated, and it might be difficult to argue one’s Ninth Amendment rights in court, though it has been done successfully.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • stickball-2.jpg Stickball

    The American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Native American Student Associationat Northeastern State University hosted a traditional stickball game as part of closing cultural activities during the 42nd annual Symposium on the American Indian Friday. Participants included, from left: Nathan Wolf, Disosdi Elk and Chris Smith.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • green-bldng.jpg City council to discuss ‘green building’

    Tahlequah City Council will hold a special meeting Friday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss, among other items, applying grant money to renovate the city’s “green building” at the corner of Water and Morgan, near Norris Park.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • alcohol-info.jpg Alcohol screening can be critical

    It has been decades since Prohibition brought Americans gangsters, flappers and speakeasies, but statistics for alcohol addiction are staggering.
    Millions of Americans suffer from alcohol addiction and abuse, which affects families and friends.
    Today, April 10, is the annual National Alcohol Screening Day, and raising awareness through education, outreach and screening programs is the goal, according to the website at www.mentalhealthscreening.org.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • jn-CCSO-2.jpg Law enforcement agencies to get new facility

    Area law enforcement agencies will soon have a new training facility in Cherokee County.
    The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office is building the new training room near its gun range, located north of the detention center. Sheriff Norman Fisher said tax dollars were not used for the building.
    “This is something we’ve been trying to work on, and it was built with no money from the taxpayers,” said Fisher. “It was paid for with drug forfeitures and gun sales.”

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • Holiday Inn.tif Promise Hotels to build Holiday Inn Express prototype

    Tulsa-based company Promise Hotels broke ground recently on the nation’s first new Holiday Inn Express & Suites prototype. The new 46,000 square foot, 80-room hotel will be in Tahlequah near the intersection of South Muskogee Avenue and the highway loop.
    Construction will begin immediately with an anticipated completion date of February 2015. The $7.22 million hotel will feature a new contemporary look with an indoor pool, sauna, fitness center, and larger meeting room.

    April 9, 2014 3 Photos

  • rf-Volunteer-Harris.jpg Music still in the blood of retired music teacher

    Volunteer opportunities Harris supports include Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cherokee Country, Feed My Sheep, and directing the Go Ye Village Women’s Choir. She’s also served for many years as musical director of Tahlequah Community Playhouse.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Stocks