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Lyle Holcombe Miller
Lyle H. Miller.jpg
BG Lyle H. Miller, USMC
Born (1889-03-10)March 10, 1889
Died March 11, 1973(1973-03-11) (aged 84)
Place of birth Athens, Michigan
Place of death Pinellas County, Florida
Buried at Burr Oak Cemetery
Allegiance United States
Service/branch USMC logo United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1914-1945
Rank US-O7 insignia Brigadier General
Service number 0-663
Commands held Chief of Staff, Samoa Defense Force
Battles/wars Veracruz Expedition
World War I
Yangtze Patrol
World War II
Awards Legion of Merit

Lyle Holcombe Miller (March 10, 1889 - March 11, 1973) was an Officer of the United States Marine Corps, who reached the rank of Brigadier General. He is most noted for his service as Chief of Staff, Samoa Defense Force during World War II. He unfortunatelly disgraced his good service record by incident with Dai Li, Chiang Kai-shek's Military Intelligence Service Chief, in late 1944.[1]

Early careerEdit

Lyle H. Miller was born on March 10, 1889 in Athens, Michigan. He attended the local high school and subsequently went to the Albion College, where he later graduated with Bachelor of Arts degree. Miller then worked as an Instructor at Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, before was commissioned Second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in August 1914. He was subsequently ordered to the instruction for 17 months at the Marine Officers' School, Norfolk, Virginia and took part in the Veracruz Expedition aboard the battleship USS Illinois within the course.[1][2]

Upon the graduation, he served with the Marine Barracks at Port Royal, South Carolina and later was attached to the Marine Detachment aboard the battleship USS Arizona. Miller, who was meanwhile promoted to the rank of First lieutenant in September 1916, sailed with Arizona to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for expeditionary duty. He received the promotion to the rank of Captain in October 1917 and was appointed Commanding officer of Headquarters Company within 13th Marine Regiment under Colonel Smedley Butler. His regiment sailed within 5th Marine Brigade under Brigadier general Eli K. Cole to France in September 1918 and Miller was appointed to the temporary rank of Major at the same time. But it was too late to see a combat and he spent next year of service in Brest until August 1919, when he was ordered back to the United States.[1]

Following his return stateside, Miller was reverted to the rank of Captain and assigned to the Marine Barracks at Quantico, Virginia. He was sent for the instruction at Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia and then to the Field Officers Course at Marine Corps Schools Quantico.[1]

Miller returned to the battleship USS Arizona in June 1923 as Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment. He served aboard that ship until September 1925, when he was ordered ashore for recruiting duty in Seattle, Washington. However he left this assignment in August 1926, when he was attached to the course at Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He graduated one year later and assumed duties as an Instructor within Field Officers Course at Marine Corps Schools Quantico. During this assignment, Miller worked together with Charles D. Barrett and Pedro del Valle on the tentative Marine Corps Landing Operations Manual. While in this capacity, he was promoted to the rank of Major in November 1928.

During December 1931, Miller was transferred to San Diego, California and appointed Athletic Officer of 4th Marine Regiment. He sailed for China in June 1932 and assumed command of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines in October 1932. Miller commanded his battalion during guard duties at Shanghai International Settlement until November 1934, when he was ordered back to the United States. Miller was meanwhile promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in October 1934.[1][2]

Upon his arrival, he was assigned to the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia and appointed Commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. Miller was subsequently ordered as an Instructor to the Marine Barracks Parris Island, South Carolina in April 1937 and served also as Barracks Temporary Commanding officer at the beginning of July 1937, when Brigadier general James T. Buttrick received transfer orders.[2]

World War IIEdit

Miller was promoted to the rank of Colonel in March 1939 and sent to the Senior Course at Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island. He graduated during May 1940 and served as an Instructor until May 1941, when he was assigned to the staff of 2nd Marine Division under Major general Clayton B. Vogel at San Diego. When general Vogel was appointed Commanding General of Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, Miller followed him as his Chief of Staff in March 1942.[2]

However he left this command after one month and sailed for Samoan Islands, where he became Chief of Staff of Samoan Defense Force under Major general Charles F. B. Price. For his new assignment, Miller was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in September 1942. It was calm service in comparation with front-line in Guadalcanal at the time. But Miller distinguished himself and received Legion of Merit for his service there.[1][2][3]

Incident with Dai LiEdit

General Miller left Samoa at the beginning of March 1944, when this command began its deactivation. As an experiences officer, he was ordered to Washington, D.C. for important duties with Office of Strategic Services under Major general William J. Donovan. Miller was appointed Senior Member of the OSS Planning Board took part in brief observation tour in Europe. In October 1944, the situation between Chiang Kai-shek and General Joseph Stilwell, Commanding general of China Burma India Theater, became worse and there was impending threat of Stillwell recall from China.[1][4]

Donovan ordered Miller to China an arrived to Chungking on October 18, in order to discuss OSS reorganization matters with General Dai Li, Chiang Kai-shek's Military Intelligence Service. Chief. Miller attended the conference, which occurred on October 22, 1944 and also was invited to the evening banquet hosted by Dai Li. After the dinner liquor was served, Miller spoke disrespectfully and offensively of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, her husband and Chinese people.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; refs with no content must have a name. There are several statements made by General Miller during the night:Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; refs with no content must have a name.

  • Miller demanded that Dai Li afford us the opportunity of being entertained by Sing-song girls. He requested Dai Li that produce such maidens.
  • Miller asked Dai Li about Chiang Kai-shek's new woman and wanted know if this was the reason for his wife's long absence.
  • Miller denied that China is a front rank power. He stated that the country could not even be a 5th or 6th rank power and that they were just about 12th.
  • Miller stated that China was guilty of "God damn obstructionism".
  • Miller asserted that China would now be under Japanese domination if it had not been for the United States of America guarantees that China is a front rank power and also guarantees China's territorial integrity. According to Miller, 40–50 years will be required for China to assume a leading position.
  • Miller also said in order to protect China from USSR, it is necessary for China to have USA support.
  • Miller repeatedly called Chinese "Chinamen".
  • Miller said "You Chinamen must open your eyes and stop sleeping like that idiot over there" (Miller designated one of the Chinese guests as an example what he meant).
  • Miller said that in the Philippines he would get Japanese genitalia and ask the Chinese to a dinner at which they would be served.

General Miller's tirade lasted for more than two hours, before he stopped. Another OSS officials, who witnessed the situation, sent report to Major general William J. Donovan in Washington, D.C. Donovan was really angry about Miller's behaviour and ordered him immediately back to the United States.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; refs with no content must have a name.

Upon his return, Donovan fired him from the OSS and gave him two choices. The Court-martial for Insubordination or Resignation from the Service at his own request and treatment in St. Elizabeths Mental Hospital. Miller realized that court-martial could totaly destroy the rest of his career, so he chose mental hospital. He was later transferred to the United States Naval Hospital at Bethesda, Maryland and upon discharge in June 1945, Miller was relieved from active service.[1][1][2]Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; refs with no content must have a name.[5][6]

Brigadier general Lyle H. Miller died on March 11, 1973 only one day after his 84th birthday. He is buried at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois together with his wife, Margurite French Miller (1889-1988).[7]


Here is the ribbon bar of Brigadier general Lyle H. Miller:[3]

Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Marine Corps Expeditionary ribbon.svg
Mexican Service Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg
Yangtze Service Medal ribbon.svg American Defense Service ribbon.svg
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
1st Row Legion of Merit Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
2nd Row Mexican Service Medal World War I Victory Medal with one battle clasp Yangtze Service Medal American Defense Service Medal
3rd Row Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal American Campaign Medal European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 "Lyle H. Miller Papers - USMC Military History Division". USMC Military History Division. Retrieved 2017-11-01. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Clark, George B. (2008). United States Marine Corps Generals of World War II. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 192. ISBN 978-0-7864-9543-6. Retrieved November 1, 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Valor awards for Lyle H. Miller". Militarytimes Websites. Retrieved November 1, 2017. 
  4. Maochun, Yu (2006). The Dragon's War: Allied Operations and the Fate of China, 1937-1947. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 192. ISBN 978-1-61251-437-6. Retrieved November 1, 2017. 
  5. Maochun, Yu (2011). OSS in China: Prelude to Cold War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 192. ISBN 978-1591149866. Retrieved November 1, 2017. 
  6. "Changes of Duty". Marine Corps Chevron. 17 February 1945. p. 9. Retrieved 1 November 2017. 
  7. "Find a Grave Memorial". Find a Grave Memorial Websites. Retrieved November 1, 2017. 

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