Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. – On the 11th day of the 11th month at the hour of 11, please join our community in honoring the service of all United States military veterans who have served in times of war and conflict and in times of peace.
Features of the 2015 Ceremony included a keynote speaker – CMSgt.Frank Millen, USAF, (Ret), a musical salute to veterans by the Campbell High School Choir, an Armed Forces Medley by the Whitfield Academy Concert Band and a post ceremony musical offering by the Whitefield Academy Concert Band.
Keynote Speaker: Chief Master Sergeant, Frank Millen, US Air Force (Ret) – After Basic and Tech school at Sheppard AFB, Texas, Millen was assigned to Forbes AFB, Kansas to work on RB-47ks. Upon reenlistment, he was assigned to Pease AFB, New Hampshire. While there he worked on the flight line performing BPO inspections on B-47Es. During this time, he was injured in a civilian plane crash. Shortly after being released for full duty in 1963, he requested and received an assignment to Naha Air Base, Okinawa where he served as a flight line assistant crew chief and refuel tear member on C-130A aircraft.
His first trip to Vietnam was in 1964 during the beginning of hostilities in Southeast Asia. He served for a couple of years at Mactan AB and Clark AB in the Philippines. Most of his time from 1967 to 1969 was spent on TDY to Vietnam working on C-130s, performing multiple maintenance services and repair on the C-130 aircraft.
Millen accumulated 800 hours of combat flying time in Southeast Asia from 1970 to 1973 and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Crosses, six Air Medals, and the Silver Star. In 1970, they flew the Bob Hope show from Thailand to Vietnam; also doing air drops at An Loc. Millen lost a lot of friends there during the Easter 1972 offensive.
On the last day of the war, just before the cease-fire was announced in Paris, Millen was on a mission to the Da Lat/Cam Ly Airfield in Vietnam to pick up some South Vietnamese cadets where they were to take them to various bases around South Vietnam so that they could spread the word about the upcoming cease fire. Shortly after landing at Da Lat/Cam Ly Airfield during engine run on cadet loading, the field came under heavy mortar attack. His plane was hit and received severe shrapnel damage. After a few hours on the ground, having replaced one main tire they took off in that badly wounded aircraft. Millen recalls Army personnel saying that had they not gotten the plane out of location that they would have been overrun during the night. They flew to NKP on three engines with a heavy loss of the main hydraulic system and many holes in the fuselage. The entire crew was later awarded the Silver Star for their actions.
January 29, 1973 – 48 hours later – Millen became the flight engineer on the first aircraft to land in Hanoi after the cease fire became effective; a high stress mission, but completed without incident. Millen recalls this as a “very memorable” time. He goes on to say that “The Air Force matured me, trained me, and made me realize how great it is to wake up every day and enjoy all of the freedoms that our military has preserved for us over all of these years.”
Millen served from 1958 to 1985. Today, he is an involved Smyrna citizen who is active in the Smyrna Veterans Committee, the Jonquil City Kiwanis, and the newly formed Smyrna Arts and Cultural Council.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place at the 20th Century Veterans Memorial at the corner of Bank and King Streets, near City Hall (use 2800 King Street, Smyrna Ga 30080 for internet directions).
American flag picture courtesy of Jnn13 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons