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One Of The First Female Soldiers To Join The Army During World War II Has Died
When Helen Miller became one of the first women to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II, she promised her parents she wouldn’t volunteer for overseas duty.
Still, she stepped forward when the Army needed women soldiers in England to support the D-Day invasion. The Woodbury woman later appeared in an Emmy-winning documentary about her military service.
In her 90s, she became a blogger with thousands of followers interested in her stories about a full life and active aging.
Miller died June 17 in a Woodbury hospice. She was 96.
Throughout her life, Miller responded to challenges with a cheerful resiliency. She was born in a house on Grand Avenue in St. Paul and moved 19 times as a child, according to her son, David Christiansen. As a young woman, she survived a life-threatening case of scarlet fever. Later in life, she survived breast cancer.
“I’m a tough old bird!” she wrote of herself.
“She has been a tested soul,” said Margaret Wachholz, a friend. “She was like Teflon. No matter what happened to her, she bounced back.”
Face Aging MNHelen at a ceremony in 2015 where she was honored with a grassroots advocacy award for her work with Face Aging MN.
During World War II, Miller joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), a pioneering unit created in 1942. It was the first time women who weren’t nurses were allowed to serve in the Army.
Miller was shipped to Great Britain on the Queen Mary, a passenger liner converted to troop ship, which zigzagged across the Atlantic to dodge U-boat attacks.
She was stationed in the U.S. Army Air Forces 8th Fighter Command headquarters outside London, where she helped plot the position of Allied fighter planes on missions to Europe, including D-Day. “She just wasn’t really afraid of anything,” her son said.
Discharged after nearly three years, she returned to St. Paul and married a Navy veteran named Leo Christiansen. Their two sons both served in the military.
After her first husband died in 1979, she remarried in 1983 to George Miller. He died in 2009.
When she moved into the Woodbury Senior Living facility, she threw herself into activities including painting, playing poker and planning and performing in skits. She followed the Twins and rooted for a Tiger Woods comeback. An avid golfer, she hit a hole in one when she was 70. She was in her 90s when she caught a 31-inch northern pike.
“She engaged in life wholeheartedly and also lightheartedly,” Wachholz said.
In 2014, Miller’s story was included in a television documentary called “Women Serving In War” that was produced by Twin Cities Public Television and the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. Seventy years after her Army days, she could still sing the WAC marching song about their symbol, Pallas Athena, Greek goddess of war. The show won a regional Emmy.
“I absolutely loved her,” said producer Stephanie Halleen.
“She kind of liked her 15 minutes of fame. She wasn’t bashful at all,” Christiansen said.
In 2016, she started “Helen’s Corner,” a blog about her life on the Face Aging MN website. It was followed by 10,300 people, Christiansen said.
In a Face Aging MN video recorded near the end of her life, Miller said, “There’s not much of me left, but what’s left is still kind of feisty.”
Besides her son David, of Oakdale, survivors include another son, Dan Christiansen, of Woodbury; a sister, Georgia Adkins, of Inver Grove Heights; seven grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Services have been held.
©2018 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.