Saturday, June 5, 2010



Remembering a fallen brother

May 27, 2010 3:20 PM

Three days of jury deliberations in a decades old murder case gave the victim’s brother a lot of time to think.

Medically retired Marine Charlie Miller, of Madison, Wis., said his brother, William Miller survived two tours in Vietnam. Their other brother, David Miller, also served in that war.

They followed in the proud footsteps of their father, a Marine who fought the Japanese at Iwo Jima. The Millers’ grandfather was a Devil Dog in World War I.

All the Millers made it home from the wars in which they fought, Charlie Miller said.

But his brother, William Miller, made it home only to be gunned down on a then-desolate Onslow County road by a fellow Marine who wanted him out of the way so he could have his wife.

“You kill for country, you kill in defense, you don’t kill for lust and greed, which is what George Hayden did to my brother Billy,” Charlie Miller said while sitting in the Onslow County Superior Courtroom on Wednesday waiting for the jury to return a verdict in his brother’s nearly 40-year-old case.

The jury came back with a guilty verdict, and George Hayden was sent to prison for life.

Charlie said he feels his soul has been restored and his spirit renewed. He said he thinks his brother will sleep in peace for the first time since being shot to death in September 1972.

“I need to say something I have never told anyone, I never told my family, something I have been struggling with for years,” Charlie Miller said in the moments before the jury reached a verdict.

He said when he returned from Vietnam in 1968 he had a falling out with William Miller over a pair of dress blues.

“I don’t think he thought I was coming back. I was a ‘combat engineer,’ but what I really did was crawl down holes in the ground and kill people. All I ever saw of the people I killed was a set of eyes. The enemy was nothing but eyes to me, but at least I didn’t shoot them in the back,” he said in reference to his brother being shot in the back by Hayden.

Charlie Miller said he couldn’t find his dress blues and suspected his brother of taking them. William Miller insisted the uniform he had belonged to him.

The brothers parted ways angry with each other and never had the opportunity to reconcile.

“When I heard he was dead …” Charlie Miller said as his right leg began to shake.

After a long pause, he said that when he learned his brother was to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery he made sure he was buried in the dress blues over which they had argued.

“My brother was a hero who deserved a lot better than to be put out like he was,” Charlie Miller said.

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