Re: [NancyWSCR15] Ed Miller, USMC, Farewell Friend
I was initially alarmed to hear that a Marine named Ed Miller, who had jumped in Southern Cal back in the day, had recently died of cancer. I checked logbook #1 and was relieved to find that the one I knew was Edwin D. I still followed the thread, noticing many similarities, even a physical likeness, to my old friend. Today I'm saddened to learn that it was, in fact, my friend. So here are my belated recollections.
We met in Glendale, California at Vic Tanny's Gym, where I had been previously employed; my first job out of the service. Ed worked at Cal Edison and told us about climbing "bare 90s" (90 foot high wooden power poles with no steps) using pole climbers strapped to his boots and a waist belt looped behind the pole. Ed overheard me talking to Fred Alexander about my desire to make one parachute jump. Ed and Fred were both on reserve status with the Force Recon unit stationed at Pendleton. My girlfriend and I attended the Force Recon Marine Corps Ball at Pendleton as Fred's guests. Both Ed and Fred were airborne qualified and Ed was a current sport jumper. So, now after opening my big mouth about wanting to jump, I had more or less sealed my fate.
I first went to Lake Piru on May 18, 1963, bought a logbook and got first jump training ($25.00) from Sgt. Stan Parker. It was overcast so I did mucho redundant PLFs from every conceivable angle off a picnic table. There were a couple of hop & pops made but the 2000 foot ceiling never cleared so Sgt. Stan gave me a full refund and even took us to the Tack and Saddle in Glendale for drinks. I say "us" because my buddy who had provided our transportation also brought a date, Natalie Wood's younger sister (I learned years later) to be an observer. I believe the Norseman went into Lake Casitas with a full load (one fatality) shortly thereafter??
I wound up at Elsinore on June 23, 1963 to get a physical, more training and make my first jump. Naturally, I reported back to Ed Miller at the gym that week. Ed suggested that we ride down to Elsinore the following weekend. He even offered me his Recon jump helmet to use. Luckily, my internal dialog had already begun, "Sure, you made one jump; anybody can make one jump. But now that you know how scary it is, can you do it one more time?"
A few of Elsinore's jumpmasters were Recon so Ed got on my load. He would go out higher with my jumpmaster for a quick two-man. So at 3 grand I got out on the step/wheel?? of the 172 and my jumpmaster tapped me off for my second jump. As I left, I was so sense-overloaded I actually thought I heard someone yelling "Pull your reserve! Pull your reserve!" I was busy concentrating on my counting, but when I got to "eight thousand" I wondered if that voice had been real. I brought both hands in to my reserve but my head pitched down. So, I thrust my hands back out, got level, then quickly went for my reserve again, fully intending to pull this time. Just then, my main opened (cone lockup) and I had a normal landing. All agreed I had attained terminal velocity, was stable all the way and swung in around a thousand feet.
Everyone was mad at me, even the dropzone coach on the PA system. My jumpmaster did, in fact, yell at me after I exited. Ed said, "Don't ever do that when I'm on the load." I can imagine how he must have felt, sitting in the back not being able to see anything except my JM going ballistic after I left. Ed and I discussed my future in jumping. But my internal dialog was saying, "Man, you can't end it on THIS jump." I don't remember Ed's exact position on the matter but we made another jump about an hour later.
Ed signed off six of my first nine jumps; "Edwin D. Miller, B926." Ed and I gradually lost touch but I used his Recon jump helmet (a leather football helmet w/ chin cup, painted OD with the holes covered up with fabric tape) well into my days at Arvin. I was wearing Ed's helmet the time I got knocked out when Bob Thompson (1st six-man) and I elected to ride our tangled canopies in after a low two-man. I guess it's about time to recount that one in "Scary Stories."
The last time I saw Ed Miller was when his unit got activated and was going to Viet Nam. I think I rode to Pendleton with Terry Ward who had (formerly?) been in Ed's Recon unit. I can't remember if it was still in the '60s or the early '70s. I do recall being surprised at seeing Ed and sheepishly telling him that I still had his helmet somewhere. He just said "Forget it." That statement lead me to believe that he was also headed overseas that day.
It's sad to hear we've lost him.
Al Paradowski SCR2
(This post was edited by ArvinAlP64 on Jul 13, 2012, 4:06 PM)
Post edited by ArvinAlP64
() on Jul 13, 2012, 4:06 PM