CHARLES C. MILLER, ENS, USN
Charles Miller '44
Date of birth: August 19, 1921
Date of death: July 26, 1943
From the 1944 Lucky Bag:
Charles was lost on July 26, 1943, when the plane he was aboard crashed near NAS Daytona Beach, Florida, during "routine dive bombing practice." (Information from September 1946 issue of Shipmate.)
Donald Engen was an officer with Scout Bombing Squadron (VSB) 32 in flight training; from his memoirs:
In mid-July the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1944 came to Daytona Beach for aviation indoctrination, and in the process we lost two airplanes, two pilots, and two Naval Academy graduates when the SBDs they rode in dove into the water, just missing the target boat. An astute accident board investigation found that in both cases the new officers riding in the backseat had installed the removable control stick, most probably earlier in the fight when the pilots offered them an opportunity to fly the SBD in level flight. Later, when the pilots entered their vertical dives, the passengers rotated their seats 180 degrees to ride backwards for the thrill of the vertical dive and did not remove the aft stick. As the pilots tried to pull out of the dive, the passengers' control sticks hit the metal back of the aft seats, preventing the pilots from pulling out, and the airplanes dove straight into Lake George.
From researcher Kathy Franz:
Known as “Chuck” at Fairhaven High School, he graduated in 1939. “Hang sorrow, care will kill a cat, And therefore, let’s be merry.” He participated as Class Treasurer 4, Honor Society 3, 4. Student Council 3, 4. Chairman, Junior Dance Committee 3. Junior Prom Committee 3. Picture Editor of “The Huttlestonian” 4. “Count of Unoware” 4. Football and Tennis 2, 3, 4. Captain Tennis Team 3. Track 4. Executive Committee 2, 3, 4. Underneath his description, the owner of the book wrote: Mass. Nautical School. Naval Academy 1940. Killed in plane crash 1943. In the Class Prophecy, Charles becomes a civil engineer and builder of the Fairhaven Bridge.
Charles wrote the Class Will. “We, the class of 1939, of Fairhaven High School, in 118 individual parts being in possession of a well-crammed mind and almost unbounded self esteem, do make, publish, and declare this our last will and testament…To the aspiring Juniors … we leave our knowledge; we fear that they might say that they started the senior year under a handicap, for as you know, “1939 is the wisest class / Ever from this school to pass.” He ended with: “We, as a class, are about to separate, clinging to the one thing with which no one could induce us to part. That is our memories of happy years here, which we will carry out into later life to brighten our years of hard work. To all we wish health, wealth, and happiness.”
Charles’ father was a salesman for the copper mill, mother was Vera, and brother was Robert. In 1935 they lived in Taunton.
Wilmer Illsley, Jr. '44 was lost only a few days before in the same type of accident, during the same aviation familiarization period and with the same squadron.