" The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example."
-Benjamin Disraeli, English politician
Everybody I know who is local (meaning grew up here) either says Mike Miner was his/her friend or their brother's friend. I haven't heard anyone say, "Yeah, I knew him." It's always that he was their friend or even, best friend. Mike was a likable guy. An ex-girlfriend posted on a veteran's memorial website that Mike was "Bigger than life! He was a lover of friends, football and fast cars." He spent time at the drag races, he played football and he hung out with friends. He belonged to the Letternan Club in high school and was on the football team. Girls liked him, guys liked him. neighbors and little kids liked him. A friend told me that Mike was one of his older brother's friends; Mike always paid attention to him even though he was the "little brother." A woman who had been his friend during high school posted on a memorial website that he called her "little sister" and told her that if anybody gave her trouble he would protect her. She said he let her drive his Ranchero and talked the police officer out of giving her a ticket. She said he was always kind. To quote Carol Kravagna, she wrote, "He had the good attitude and a steady coolness a person would expect of someone way beyond his years."
I was two grades behind him at the same high school; he was in Eddy's class ('65). They were in elementary school together, and so was I for my first two years of school until I moved to a newly built nearby school. I never knew him but I recognized his picture when I saw he had been KIA, I knew his sister (she was in my class) and I shared his birthday, only I was born 3 years later; he and Eddy were born exactly 12 days apart.
In the late 1970s, I moved next door to his father in the house Mike grew up in. It was about 11 years after Mike was killed when I lived there. By then, everyone was gone and his father lived alone. His other two kids were on their own and I'm not sure if his wife had passed away or they divorced because he never talked much. He would come out to water his neatly manicured yard, shoo the cats away, grumble something about the neighborhood cats and retreat to his house. I can only imagine the pain that lived in his heart at losing such a fine son. But we lost Eddy, so I know the toll it takes to lose a loved one, but to lose a child, I hope I never find that out. And now I know the toll it takes to grow old, the losses, the aches and pains. He probably saw ghosts of the past, of his children playing in the yard, of the backyard camp outs that a friend of Mike remembers, of going to football games, etc. He seemed like a really good man who had suffered loss, and that is truly who he was.
Michael Robert Miner's parents were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Miner Jr. They lost their son when Mike drove a vehicle over a land mine and detonated it in Dian Bam Province, near Da Nang, Vietnam on September 4, 1967. The official record calls it a hostile ground casualty. Mike was a motor vehicle operator in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a Lance Corporal in the 3rd 155 mm Gun Battery, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, III MAF, grade E3. He had been there a year when he died this horrible death at the young age of 20, a month before his 21st birthday and exactly 6 months to the day prior to Eddy's death in the battle at Hoc Mon. In school together since children then to die 6 months apart in a war zone across the world.
Mike attended the Jr. College after high school and then signed up for the Marines, maybe to avoid the draft or maybe he would have signed up anyway. If anyone who knew him and reads this knows, please share the answer in the comments. Or if you want to share anything about Mike, please share. It helps us all to know who he was. One thing we know for sure, he was a good friend to all and everybody agrees on that.
On a veteran's memorial website (www.vvmf.org), his sister wrote these words that ring true for any of us who have lost someone we loved:
I never told you how much I loved you. I never told you how proud I was of you. I never thanked you for the many things you did for me. I never told you goodbye... I never dreamed you wouldn't come back to us. I should have given you a big big hug at the bus. I never told you how much I loved you...but you were my big brother, so I hope you knew.
Love you forever,
Rest in peace Michael Robert Miner, friend to all who knew him.