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San Antonio in Bexar County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Wilber B. Miller

Team Leader / Maintenance Personnel

 

— 1900–1994 —

 
Wilber B. Miller Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, 1995
1. Wilber B. Miller Marker
Note the misspelling of Wilber's first name on the marker—uncorrected since 1995.
Inscription.  
In 1941, the War Department announced the creation of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the first all-African American combat unit in the Army Air Forces. This unit trained at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Fifty African-American Kelly workers (49 men and 1 woman) left Texas to serve as mechanics and support personnel for the Tuskegee Flying School. Team leader for this “49+1” group from Kelly was Wilber Miller. The spirit and dedication of these trailblazers is a continuing legacy and a reminder of the heritage of service to our nation shared by all of Kelly’s African-American personnel.
 
Erected 1995 by Kelly Heritage Foundation.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansAir & SpaceWar, World II. A significant historical year for this entry is 1941.
 
Location. 29° 23.512′ N, 98° 33.471′ W. Marker is in San Antonio, Texas, in Bexar County. Marker can be reached from So. General McMullen Drive, half a mile south of U.S. 90. It is at the Kelly Air Force Base Veteran’s Monument in Memorial Park. Touch for map
Wilber Miller's bust at the Kelly Veteran's Monument. Sculpted by Emilio Torres. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, 1995
2. Wilber Miller's bust at the Kelly Veteran's Monument. Sculpted by Emilio Torres.
Click or scan to see
this page online
. Marker is in this post office area: San Antonio TX 78222, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Kelly Air Force Base (approx. 0.6 miles away); "Kelly No. 2" Flight Line (approx. 1.1 miles away); Lydia Mendoza (approx. 1.9 miles away); Our Lady of the Lake University (approx. 2˝ miles away); Alejo de la Encarnación Pérez (approx. 3.2 miles away); Col. José Francisco Ruiz (approx. 3.2 miles away); Placido Olivarri (approx. 3.2 miles away); Moses Lapham (approx. 3.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Antonio.
 
More about this marker. Marker is beneath the bust of Wilber B. Miller, one of fourteen notable civilians and servicemembers so commemorated in the “ring of honor” at the Kelly Air Force Base Veteran’s Monument in Memorial Park, just inside what was once the main entrance to the Kelly Air Force Base, an area now known as “Port San Antonio.”
 
Also see . . .
1. Wilber Britt Miller. Find A Grave website entry (Submitted on September 26, 2022, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.) 

2. “Kelly Forever” the Kelly AFB Veteran’s Monument. (Submitted on February 20, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
 
Additional commentary.
1.
A San Antonio native, Wilber Miller was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War I and also served with the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Regiment on the Mexican border in the early 1920s. In 1935 he secured the coveted position of a mechanic’s helper (the only civil service rating for which Blacks were eligible at the time) at what was then known as Duncan Army Air Field.

He eagerly
Wilber Miller image. Click for full size.
Photographed By U.S. Air Force, circa 1969
3. Wilber Miller
demonstrated his diverse talents and aptitudes at every opportunity and was ready at the start of World War II when he was promoted and called upon to select the first African American candidates for the expanded (but still racially segregated) employment opportunities that were suddenly created. He was subsequently tasked with choosing and leading those who would be sent to Tuskegee, Alabama where the country’s “Black Air Force” was taking shape. Ably assisted by his friend and fellow Duncan employee Ollie Watson, Miller and his team of 49 men and one young woman (Ms. Virginia Porter) received advanced training under White instructors as they established the new air depot at Tuskegee Army Air Field and provided ongoing maintenance support for the primary phase training aircraft used by the now legendary “Tuskegee Airmen.”

In 1944 Miller was re-called to San Antonio where (not surprisingly) stresses were developing within the greatly expanded and newly diverse civilian work force (Anglo-, Latino- and Afro-American) that threatened to explode into the kind of violence that plagued similar communities around the country. Miller found himself in a “hot seat,” given the job of “Employee Counselor for Negroes.”

A member of Kelly’s multi-ethnic Morale Committee, he also chaired a separate Negro Morale Committee organizing
Wilber B. Miller image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, August 8, 2010
4. Wilber B. Miller
- grave marker, Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas.
a popular recreation program (dances, barbecues, ballgames, etc.) while personally mediating a constant flow of angry complaints regarding racial discrimination. Though criticized at times by some militants in the community for enforcing the principle that candidates for the choicest positions have the highest qualifications, he could boast that Blacks were soon employed in every phase of work at Kelly.

In 1946 he received an Award of Merit from the Commanding General of Kelly Air Force Base for his wartime contributions, and by the time of his retirement in 1970 he had accumulated over twenty citations for outstanding service.
    — Submitted February 24, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.

 
Additional keywords. Kelly AFB Veteran’s Monument; Kelly AFB Veteran’s Memorial Park; Ollie Watson; Virginia Porter; Navy messmen; 25th Infantry.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 26, 2022. It was originally submitted on February 20, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,792 times since then and 81 times this year. Last updated on September 10, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos:   1. submitted on February 20, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2, 3. submitted on February 24, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   4. submitted on May 15, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 2, 2022