GOSHEN — EDITOR'S NOTE: This year in anticipation for Sunday’s Celebrate America event at Black Squirrel Golf Club, The Goshen News will profile a local Korean War veteran each day through the event. We hope you enjoy getting to know some of our local heroes.
Ora Miller changed his life in the summer of 1955.
Raised in the Amish faith, Miller was living east of Goshen along C.R. 31.
“My parents had a farm out there, and I was helping farm,” he recalled. Miller was in his late teens, and decided it was time to strike out on his own. So he did.
Miller enlisted in the Army on July 25, 1955. By that time, he’d branched out from his Amish roots — “I had a car, put it that way,” Miller said. He also wasn’t the first in his family to opt for the military.
“I had a brother that had served three years in the Navy and was discharged,” Miller said. “I had a brother that was in the Army at the time when I went in. I was not the groundbreaker, so to speak.”
Miller went through basic training in New Jersey. He completed a battery of tests, and Army leadership decided he was well-suited for communications work. Years later, he chuckles about that development in light of the world he grew up in.
“So I went to school and learned how to do the radio and the switchboard and the Morse Code,” Miller recalled earlier this week in his home just south of Goshen. “I always thought that was kind of funny, being raised on kerosene.”
Miller was sent overseas and stationed about 25 miles south of Seoul. The armistice had been signed in 1953, and South Korea was in period of reconstruction. Miller’s primary duties were in communications and road rebuilding.
For Miller, the lessons learned while growing up Amish would prove useful in South Korea.
“You’re taught to survive with a little less than modern people have,” he said. “Which we had to, when I got (overseas) — you’d get a cup of water, and that’d last you all day. ...”
“A lot of my upbringing came in handy,” Miller said.
Before he joined the Army, Miller read much about what was happening with the Korean conflict.
“My parents were Amish,” he said, “but they were in touch with current events and stuff.”
Decades after his role in the rebuilding effort, Miller still pays attention to the tensions that persist in the region.
“You betcha,” he said. “I’m in tune with that. ...Just to see the back and forth, back and forth. It’s nothing new. It’s been like that.”
Seeing how South Korea has developed since he was there — and knowing that the United States played a part in it — gives Miller a sense of satisfaction. He is also a man who says he’s very proud of his military service.
“And if I had it to do over again, I’d do it again,” he said. “...When you’re raised on a farm, you see a lot of nature. First thing that comes to your mind is God, family, country and duty, put it that way. ...You get all of them in a row, they fall in line for you.”