Mike Miller Memorial CMHF Flight #27

Those of us, who have made Central Missouri Honor Flight more than “a once in a lifetime activity”, have become a very close “family”.  Many of the guardians and staff involved with this flight have been with us for years and some have been with us from the very beginning over five years ago.  For those of us who have supported each other through the ups and downs, the funerals we have attended, the frustrations of family dynamics of the veterans, the burden of responsibility we all share, the uncertainty of fund-raising and thousands of hours each flight requires in preparation and implementation, the friendships and trust we have developed have brought us all very close.

On Sunday, March 23, we lost a very special member of our family.  Vietnam era Army veteran, Mike Miller of Macon, passed away after a valiant four month battle against liver cancer.  Mike had served as a guardian on eight of our flights and very much wanted to survive long enough to see this flight off. In addition to his service to CMHF as a guardian, Mike was active in the Macon area recruiting veterans to go on our flights, raising funds for CMHF, serving as a bugler at countless military and veteran events and riding his Harley with the Patriot Guard Riders.  In addition to veterans support, Mike was also active in his community of Macon/Bevier in other ways.  He helped start the Macon County Emergency Medical First Responders and the Bevier Fire Protection District where he served as a volunteer firefighter and captain for over 20 years.

Mike was highly regarded by all of us in CMHF.  He was the epitome of what a CMHF guardian should be.  To Mike, it was never about him and all about the veterans.  In fact, I had told Mike that, should he survive until this flight, we would take him as veteran consistent with our policies for terminally ill veterans.  He immediately refused saying that would take up a seat that a WWII or Korea veteran could use – that’s the way he was.  He was focused, committed, compassionate, caring and, most of all, always anticipating what was ahead.  In fact, as I have shared with many, any time a challenge presented itself along our travels, it seemed Mike was already there addressing the issue.  If I was forced to identify our top 5 guardians, Mike would be on that list.  Many of our members made numerous trips to Bevier to visit with Mike as his health declined and countless members of our organization were also present at Mike’s visitation and services in March.  We couldn’t have been prouder of the people that give so much to our mission.  In fact, they all wore their honor flight shirts in tribute to him.  It was “family” at its best.

We are extremely honored that Mark Miller, Mike’s brother and a Marine, will be taking Mike’s guardian slot on this flight in honor to his brother.  Additionally, guardians and staff who knew Mike will be wearing special recognition markings on this flight in memory of and in tribute to Mike.  First time guardians are welcome to wear those as well as Mike would have honored you for your participation as he did all guardians.

Mike absolutely loved the mission of Central Missouri Honor Flight.  Aside from his family, Central Missouri Honor Flight had become the most important thing in his life.  In fact, Mike was buried in his Central Missouri Honor Flight Guardian T-Shirt and Lanyard.  We trust that Mike is now standing at the Pearly Gates welcoming and guiding arriving WWII and Korea veterans.In tribute to and honor of Mike Miller’s patriotism, dedication to CMHF and incredible passion for our veterans and the recognition they so truly deserve, we hereby dedicate our May 13, 2014 honor flight as the:

 Mike Miller Memorial Central Missouri Honor Flight #27.