Veteran Lil Miller

  Lil Miller

 “Every time I turned around, I broke something,” says Lil Miller of her early years growing up in Keyport, New Jersey where she was born in 1923. “I was always falling out of trees and breaking bones. I spent half my childhood wearing a sling,” she reminisces.

 Lil went on to attend high school at Star of the Sea Academy before enlisting in the Navy in 1942 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Her basic training took her to New York City and then to the mid-west where she trained as a dental technician. “There was a lot of work to be done,” she says. “Nobody believed in a toothbrush back then. I wasn’t in any battles, unless it was against food.”  One day she met a submarine yeoman named Bud Miller. The story she tells is this: “He sorta met me in the dining hall. He said to the fellas at his table, ‘See that girl? I’m gonna marry her.’ And he did. And I was engaged to somebody else,” she laughs.

By 1945, the Navy had ceased automatically discharging women who married, so Lil was able to work another year before leaving the Navy for home life. “The Navy taught me restriction,” she says now. “It was a different type of life. I learned that I didn’t have freedom of control. I had to give up some independence, but I learned discipline. I wouldn’t give up my experience in the military for anything in the world,” she concludes.

As told to Jean Kilby