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Service & Sacrifice: 95-year-old “lucky life”

Hank Miller served in two wars and two military branches. Now, ten chapters into writing an autobiography, he hopes more veterans share their stories.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Hank Miller, 95, speaks fondly of his almost 40 years of military service that stretched across two branches and two wars.

"I traveled to every country you can name in the Middle East, all of them," he said.

As a teenager, he entered the Navy during World War II and served aboard a destroyer in the Pacific. He did not have to serve in Korea during that conflict, but by the time the U.S. entered the war in Vietnam Hank Miller had joined the Army and crisscrossed the country, teaching fellow soldiers how to use the M-16 rifle.

"I was never shot at on the ground but I've been chopper riding ... shot at a whole lot," said Miller.

He is writing a book about his life experiences, a full third of it spent in a military uniform, and reflecting on what he calls a "lucky life." 

"The Lord saw to it that I stayed safe, and that's who gets the credit," said Miller.

In addition to an on-camera interview with WBIR, he also answered the following ten questions about his military service and how it influenced the rest of his life. Those questions are below.

1. What one person influenced you most in life?

Great Aunt. She was an old-timer from Memphis. She was very smart. Never married. Did well financially. When I was a youngster she took me under her wing.

2. Do you feel honored and respected for serving your country?

Most cases, yes.

3.  How can people thank you for your service?

Oh just, waving hi to me or something like that.

4.  How do you honor your fellow servicemen and women?

I respect them. I’m pleased they saw fit to serve their country.

5.  How do you think this generation of military men and women is different or similar to yours?

This generation has many privileges we didn’t have in the WWII days. I’m glad that is the case, that they have some advantages. However, I think many of them don’t have the same patriotic feeling that those of us who served during WWII and Korea.

6.  What influence did your military service have on the rest of your life?

It kept me out of trouble. But military service gave me the desire to see as much of this world as I possibly could. It influenced my wife in the same manner.

7.  Does your family have a history of military service?

My father was in WWI and WWII. He served at the same time I was in the Navy. He was in the Army.

8.  Would you encourage younger generations in your family to join the service?

Yes, because I have a grandson and his wife who are both West Point graduates. I have a son-in-law who is retired Army. The answer is, we are kind of military.

9.  How has your opinion of war changed?

War is chilling. We should do all we can to avoid war.

10.  How did your military experience shape your faith?

I’ve always been a Christian. And I’ve believed in a supreme being guiding our paths. It made me much more of a Christian. It solidified my faith.

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