Sunday, November 23, 2008

In Memory of Corporal David L. Miller

66 years ago today, Corporal David L. Miller, son of Fall River, gave his life for our freedom in a Japanese prison camp after surviving the Bataan Death March.

(Due to the nature surrounding Corporal Miller's death, there is conflicting information about when he died. This plaque says 1943, however, the WWII Memorial site has Corporal Miller's date of death as November 23, 1942)

Corporal David L. Miller was born in Fall River in 1916. After graduating high school in Fall River, he spent some time working in publishing/printing. In 1939 Hitler invaded Poland starting WWII. One year into WWII, on 11/12/1940, at the age of 24, David Miller enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps.

Private Miller soon became Corporal Miller. Corporal Miller was stationed in the American-held Philippines in 1941. In December of 1941, the Japanese Army invaded the Philippines. The combined Filipino and US forces were being gradually overrun and General Douglas MacArthur decided to make Bataan the site of a last stand. After months of fighting, on April 3, 1942 the Japanese began an all-out assault on the American and Filipino troops left on the Bataan peninsula. Bataan fell on April 9, 1942 when the Americans surrendered to the Japanese marking the beginning of the Bataan Death March. Corporal David L. Miller was one of the 70,000 soldiers captured, by the Japanese, and forced to embark on a 65 mile torturous hike from Bataan to a prison camp.

From the day of surrender on, the POWs were harshly beaten and killed for the slightest or no reason at all. Any troops who fell behind were executed. Japanese troops beat soldiers randomly, and denied the POWs food and water for many days. Anyone who dared ask for water was executed. On the rare occasion they were given any food, it was only a handful of contaminated rice.

The men, already desperately weakened by hunger and disease, suffered unspeakably during the March. Regardless of their condition, POWs who could not continue or keep up with the pace were summarily executed. Even stopping to relieve oneself could bring death, so many chose to continue walking while relieving themselves. Some of the guards made a sport of hurting or killing the POWs. The Marchers were beaten with rifle butts, shot or bayoneted without reason. Most of the POWs got rid of their helmets because Japanese soldiers on passing trucks hit them with rifle butts. Some enemy soldiers savagely toyed with POWs by dragging them behind trucks with a rope around the neck. Japanese guards also gave the POWs the "sun treatment" by making them sit in the sweltering heat of the direct sun for hours at a time without shade.

"Their ferocity grew as we marched ... they were no longer content with mauling tragglers or pricking them with bayonet points. The thrusts were intended to kill."-Capt. William Dyess, 21st Pursuit Squadron commander
Corporal Miller survived the death march beatings, starvation, and dehydration and made it to the Japanese prison camp, where 27,000 Filipinos and 2,200 Americans, including Corporal Miller died.
Click to watch the very emotional story of a Bataan Death March Survivor

Information compiled from:
National Archives - Military Record of David Miller
WWII Memorial site
National Museum of the USAF
University of San Diego

As I mentioned in my previous blog post. Mayor Correia and City Councilor Pat Casey spearheaded the project to remove and relocate Corporal Miller's Memorial at Corporal Miller Square on Shove and South Main Streets and replace it with a new huge memorial to Paul McGovern. Correia dedicated the McGovern tribute and renamed the square after him. I am OUTRAGED that Correia stole this brave soldier's tribute. I, in no way, mean to disparage the memory of Mr. McGovern; that being said, this reeks of political patronage.

Shame on Bob Correia, Pat Casey, and all those involved in tearing up, relocating, and renaming Corporal Miller's memorial: You are stealing our history.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
-George Santayana


Anonymous said...

Nice tribute Shamrock, I still think this should be brought to the attention of the veterans.
Do you know if Corporal Miller still has relatives in Fall River?

Charlotte Despard

shamrock said...

A cousin of his, Kevin Botelho, honored him at the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. see:

I have not been able to find his cousin yet.

The Sterile News Fall River said...

Do you know where he is buried?

Anonymous said...

Some media outlet has to pick this up, this is terrible....

TomPaine said...

Something has to be done before other small patches of land, that have been dedicated to brave souls, are renamed by THIS mayor!

By the way Shamrock, thank you for all the work you have put into this. Without you none of us would have known what took place and Corporal Miller would have been totally forgotten!

TomPaine said...

When the you know what hits the fan the mayor will say the island was not really rededicated, the two monuments are sharing the space.

If that is the case be ready to cross the Braga Bridge and half way across it will be the Dan Bogan Bridge.

Kennedy Park, the southern part, will be Bob Correia Park.

Once dedicated, it must stay that way! The way it was intended.

Again, if this was my dad, grandfather, or uncle I would be beside myself with anger.

Come to think of it, I am beside myself with anger.

shamrock said...

Sterile News: I am not sure if his remains were ever buried but he is memorialzed at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.

Anonymous 1:58 : Feel free to contact any media outlets with this information and I will likely do the same. This is a travesty and cannot be swept under the rug.
Given the Herald News article today about the WWII vets and the film being made, I think it would be appropriate timing for this story to break.

Tom Paine: I did have some fun speculating about all the excuses the Mayor will come up with regarding his error.
Unfortunately for Bob, there is absolutely no excuse for this. He can try to tap dance around it but we know what he did and why he did it. I am beside myself with anger as well, especially after watching the video I posted of the interview with a survivor. It is heartbreaking.

ThirdMate said...

I "grew up" in Tiverton and I think that I remember being at McGovern's restaurant twice.

However: Every moment of my life --whether I'm on American soil or not -- I enjoy the freedoms and comforts and rights and privileges that Corporal Miller devoted his life to protecting and ensuring.

Thank you for pointing all of this out, Shamrock.

The Sterile News Fall River said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Sterile News Fall River said...

So the square was "legislated" the question is, was the original memorial legislated? Evidently once it is it can't be changed.

Did the ordinance include moving another memorial?

Dedication of the Paul K. McGovern Square

Date: October 30, 2008 For immediate release

SUBJECT: Dedication of the Paul K. McGovern Square

WHEN: Monday, November 3, 2008, 7:30 a.m.

WHERE: Intersection of Shove Street and South Main Street near Vernon Street

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mayor's Office, 508-324-2600

Mayor Robert Correia and Councilor Patricia A. Casey will be joining friends and members of the McGovern Family to dedicate the Paul K. McGovern Square, a triangular shaped landscaped island located at the intersection of Shove Street and South Main Street near Vernon Street. The Fall River City Council approved the order offered by Councilor Casey in June.

The late Paul K. McGovern, who passed away January 1, 2007, was a local restaurant owner highly respected by his peers and friends. Mr. McGovern and his wife, Patricia McGovern, opened McGovern's Family Restaurant in 1969 at 2629 South Main Street. In 1978 they moved to their current location at 310 Shove Street, a 10 acre private estate. The local popular eatery has been family owned and operated with three generations of the McGovern family working onsite serving delicious American food for weddings, family gatherings and other occasions at the banquet facility while simultaneously running the restaurant. Mr. McGovern was an active member of the community. He sponsored the Tall Ships for Fall River Celebrates America and was involved with the Fall River Elks Club and a local soup kitchen.

The McGovern Family paid for the monument, its installation and the new landscaping. The Department of Community Maintenance made lighting and sidewalk improvements and re-installed the veterans' monument currently at the site.

A mass will be held in his memory at 7:00 a.m. at the Holy Ghost Church located at 311 Hooper Street in Tiverton, RI off Main Street/Route 138.

The Sterile News Fall River said...

In the past when you get a veteran's memorial it goes to the city veteran's agent and passes the city council. You are given a paper stating the "proclamation".

Is this on file in the records for corp miller!?

Anonymous said...

I have told many people this story and they are appalled. This type of blantant disregard for people cannot be tolerated by the people in this city. We need to rewrite history at the ballot box in November, 2009. We are changing names of schools and memorial. We are in a fiscal mess in the school department and will probably be sued by a number of employees who are being harassed and accused of wrong doing with out proof.

puck said...

If only Cpl. Miller had skipped that pesky Death March, he too might have been able to open a fine American restaurant serving delicious food for weddings, banquets and the political functions of a self-serving fool. Maybe then, Bob would have cared about him.

I drove by this monument today and was appalled at the disproportion of its size and relevance compared to that of Cpl. Miller.

This was hallowed ground and Bob Correia has desecrated it.

Didn’t anyone involved in this travesty give even one moment’s thought to Cpl. Miller and WHY he had been memorialized??? My guess is no. And that, in itself, is painfully tragic.

I will assume, then, that the McGovern family intended no slight of Cpl. Miller, but if they have any sense of decency and propriety, they will quietly remove this pretentious display and ask - no, beg - the mayor to restore Cpl. Miller’s place of honor, tenfold.

I am so very ashamed of my mayor and his crass, callous mockery of Cpl. Miller’s brief but heroic life and his noble, ultimate sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

Absolutly outrageous.
I too am ashamed of my mayor. Shame on Pat Casey. I can't wait for November 2009

Anonymous said...

I will not patroniize McGovern's until Cpl Miller's memorial is returned.

The Sterile News Fall River said...

I don't blame the McGovern's they were just trying to memoralize their family member, but the city should have found another location and not disturbed Corporal Miller's memorial. I am still not convinced that this was legal since these memorials are legislated and proclaimed. We will soon find out.

TomPaine said...

I do not believe that McGovern's should be a target of anyones rage. Mr. McGovern was a good person.

The problem here are politicians who should have known better. Once it came to light that there was a monument to a World War II hero the mayor should have said that another site had to be found.

One blunder after another is becoming normal.

Anonymous said...

So the memorial was moved? It wasn't destroyed? Or stolen, never to be seen again? How far was it moved?

shamrock said...

Send me your email address and I will give you before/after pix; but that probably isn't what you are really after.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to know the actual physical facts.

TomPaine said...

The point is not the moving of the memorial, the point is you DO NOT take a memorial and then give it to another entity. Correia has stepped on one thing after another without caring who it affected.

This went too far. I am tired of a mayor that will run school committee meetings one way (by Roberts Rules) then another way (tradition) however he feels like it.

I am tired of a mayor that will rename schools without an ounce of citizen input.

I am tired of a mayor that will tell the legislative body of the city (city council) that they have to go through him to speak to dept heads.

I am tired of a mayor that will tell the citizens of Fall River when they can and cannot applaud.

I am tired of mayor that will cancel a celebration without even taking the time to think of ways to save it.

And now I am totally tired of a mayor that will dishonor a memorial to a World War II hero.

shamrock said...

I didn't have a measuring tape with me. All I know is that it used to be called Miller Square and now it is called McGovern Square.

The Sterile News Fall River said...

Anon 21:25 I posted the city press release directly from the city website above earlier.

Here is the description used for moving the Corporal's memorial:

The McGovern Family paid for the monument, its installation and the new landscaping. The Department of Community Maintenance made lighting and sidewalk improvements and re-installed the veterans' monument currently at the site.

The Sterile News Fall River said...


It looks like Fischer will now use the Mayors Roberts Rules of order against him in regards to the open meeting laws. I don't want to see the city get sued but it is about time he is held up to the law instead of skirting around it.

TomPaine said...

I hear what you are saying, but I am thinking about the taxpayers of the city. If Fischer and his lawyer are correct in this matter, it will not be Correia who suffers, it us, the taxpayers.

For people like Correia, he moves on with a great pension, he wil make sure his staff get jobs in the court system, and we and the next mayor are left holding the bag.

Anonymous said...

Tom ,

I was searching for information on the legislative legality of Corporal Miller's memorial (bogan rededicated the memorial in 1991)

You may find this one of interest it involves a lawsuit years ago against the city, mayor bogan and marilyn roderick.

Charlotte Despard

Anonymous said...

A campaign should be mounted now! Everyone should start writing letters to the editor of the Herald News. I think if people are careful to say they aren't criticizing McGovern's just the Mayor and if the paper gets enough letters it will be hard for them to ignore the story.

The Sterile News Fall River said...

They print 2 letters a week from Jack Correia- it will be nteresting to see if they print it.

I sent the story to the HN on 11/22to the new city editor:

Anonymous said...

Boy could you people be any more insincere? All this feigned outrage when it's obvious that this is all politically motivated.

Fear and Loathing in Fall River said...

Anon 13:57

Feigned outrage? The fact that this does not outrage you, shows a severe lack of moral character. The fact, that you feel a piece of land that was dedicated to a war hero, can be re-dedicated in the future to someone else, shows lack of respect for history.

Politically motivated? I'd be willing to bet that the recent 'dedication' is politically motivated....

History MUST be preserved. We cannot allow this to happen under our watch. If this happens now, what will happen in the future? What if there are no more wars, and no more Veterans in the future to watchdog these monuments? Is it ok to forget our past? Of course not. It is downright dangerous to forget our past.

All accounts that I've seen, point to this square being called Miller Square. That means it was ripped up from under a man who died, far from home, with no family, for a cause he in which he believed. It was dedicated to him for a reason. Moving and renaming any monument to a war hero like this cheapens it. It cuts right to the core of who we are. It cheapens us as Americans.

The Sterile News Fall River said...

Anon may be right about it being political, since it seems that anything we should be outraged about in this city lately is related to politics. I for one have a relative memoralized years ago. I'm sure the families of those with schools dedicated to them prior to being renamed are also somewhat outraged.

Fear and Loathing in Fall River said...

At least the school was a different piece of property, and a different building altogether. Here, the piece of land was taken.

Anonymous said...

Bob Correia and Pat Casey honor a political supporter albeit someone who supported a lot of political candidates and was a nice guy but still they honored a political supporter and in order to do so they dug up a soldier's memorial and moved it and renamed the square that was named after the dead soldier yet people who call out Correia for doing something like this are being political? I think it is more like anyone who would defend Bob Correia for doing something like this is a political hack in the extreme!

Anonymous said...

My guess is the "action" aimed at getting the memorial back will do as well as the petitition concerning the fire chief, the Bob Correia recall blabber, the "lawsuit" about stormwater and the rest of it...much talk, no action

Anonymous said...

Good one Anon,

A lot of talk, sounds like the silent majority is laughing at the voters rights all the way to the bank huh? Until you are sanctioned again.

Anonymous said...

A lot of talk, sounds like the silent majority is laughing at the voters rights all the way to the bank huh? Until you are sanctioned again.

More talk. No action.

The Sterile News Fall River said...

End of post- now we are having a childlike debate with intelligent whose only actions are self serving. bye

shamrock said...

Anon 8:40 -
Are you saying that the referendum petition was talk and no action? I would say that the immediate mobilization of a group of workers and their collection of 9,000 signatures provides evidence of action. Also, I believe it is a little too soon to say that there has been no action on the stormwater issue. I believe Atty Will Flanagan's efforts on the issue so far prove that.

Clearly we have different definitions of "action" (mine being the correct one, of course). That being said, there will be action on this as well; you can let me know later whether it fits into your definition of action.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that the referendum petition was talk and no action? I would say that the immediate mobilization of a group of workers and their collection of 9,000 signatures provides evidence of action

Yeah that petition thing really worked. What was the end result again?

shamrock said...

I think you will see the end result on election day next year.

Anonymous said...

Obviously it has scared the so called silent majority, temporarily. Otherwise they would not be commenting.

Anonymous said...

I hear they are making a new type of martini at the Flaunt Lounge.

They call it

The Corriea Cocktail.....

"Fall River On The Rocks"

Anonymous said...

I usually just read the blogs and rarely comment. But I am absolutely bewildered at this move. I have moved from the south end about eight years ago and travel through often, but never saw the "Square." Is anyone organizing any grassroots or single issue group, I would surely join and donate money to this.
Who is the State Rep in this area is this Aguiar or Rodrigues. I am not blaming either, just want to know who to call.
Pat Casey ran on being a WAC, I guess her veteran support is showing.

TomPaine said...

I believe Aguiar is the state rep.

Since this passed the council - does anyone know if the council knew beforehand that that little stick of land was already dedicated?

FLSTF said...

This Fall River-area veteran thinks that this is a complete and utter disgrace. Why couldn't they put McGovern's memorial on a nicely-maintained patch of land near or on the restaurant's property? Why do they have to go and overshadow a memorial to a war hero and honored veteran instead? Correia should be ashamed. Casey, as an army veteran, should be even MORE ashamed for going along with this. He should have had at least a little clue that this was the wrong thing to do and tried put a stop to Correia's plan.

Sure, it's nice that Miller's Square looks better now, but that area should have never been left to become an eyesore in the first place. Erecting a much larger monument at the same site diminishes the memorial to Cpl. Miller, plain and simple.

The first paragraph in this article clearly calls this area 'Paul K. McGovern Square' now. This whole thing makes me sad. I'm sad for the family of Cpl. Miller, and I'm sad for the McGovern family because their good family name is now in the middle of this controversy when all they wanted to do was honor thier patriarch.

gonebutnotforgotten said...

Shame on Pat Casey and the Mayor, especially Pat a long time south end resident...
No, Corporal Miller has no family members left that is why the end run....
We all should be screaming as we continue to have our sons and daughters fight for others freedom and give of their lifes.
Let Corporal Miller have his green he earned it by giving of his life for others-the ultimate sacrifice.

Wendy said...

Copy of my letter to the Editor of the Herald News, copied to Mayor and City Council 12/16/2008

Dear Editor:

I reside in Northern Michigan, and will admit that I have only been to Fall River twice in my lifetime. However, through the power of the Internet I received several links to articles recently printed in your newspaper regarding the re-dedication of Miller Green, the site dedicated as a memorial to your Fall Creek native son, Cpl. David L. Miller, who gave his life in defense of our great Nation during World War II.

As the daughter of a World War II hero who survived the Bataan Death March and nearly four years of hell as a Japanese POW, words cannot describe the sense of loss I feel at this news. This sadness is felt not only for David’s remaining family, but for all of our great heroes, living and dead, who put it all on the line for us. When my Dad read your news articles yesterday, he said nothing, but I could tell that his reaction was a simple, but sad,…”it will all be forgotten…….”

“So what?”, you say. Well, my Dad will be 92 in February, and I pray that his heroism will never be forgotten by his family and those who know him—or stolen by strangers he will never know. His medals and ribbons, including the Silver Star, are not proudly on display—they are still tucked in a small box in my Mother’s bedroom dresser. I show them with reverence to my children and grand-children, so they will know what Great-Grandpa and others did in the War—and to remind them that freedom is not free. My Dad’s good fortune was to survive the War and the terrors of imprisonment, return home to Michigan, and marry his childhood sweetheart. He did not look back with anger or regret; in fact, he never spoke of the War at all until he was in his eighties, when his neighbor convinced him to write a book sharing his experiences so that the world would not forget.

I can only hope that your City Council will reconsider the message they have sent by this action, and choose another place for Mr. McGovern’s memorial. I am certain that Mr. McGovern is in every way deserving of this special recognition. However, the reality is that the opportunity for his long and successful business career and the freedom for his family and community to honor him for his outstanding service were in no small part made possible by the sacrifice of Cpl. Miller and tens of thousands of other young Americans, some still sacrificing today.

I would point out that perhaps the real sorrow in this story lies in the fact that, apparently, the City let Miller Green look as if it needed a re-dedication. Reading between the lines of the article titled “Square Affair” which your paper printed on December 7 (ironic date, don’t you think?) the area was said to be in need of “sprucing up”, shall we say? How can this happen? Who stands watch over the honor and memories of those who can no longer stand watch for themselves? Get your community involved, use your high school helpers for extra credit, use non-violent offenders as a part of community service, call on volunteers, Veteran’s groups, or better yet, put a small amount in the City budget to allow for maintenance of this most important place. If you need ideas, pay a visit to the small town of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and be awed by the simple beauty and reverence in the Veteran’s Memorial on the banks of Rice Lake—I sure was.

In closing, I am hopeful that the City Council will realize the error of their way, and return the site, with improvements, to Miller Green. It is understandable that the mistake was made, but unforgiveable in the eyes of many not to correct it. Perhaps Cpl. Miller’s plaque says it best……..”Lest anyone forget, may this garden serve as a humble reminder of the sacrifice of all who gave their lives for liberty."

Wendy Thomas

shamrock said...

Thank you for your support and for sharing your story and your father's story with us. I look forward to reading it again in the newspaper.

I'm not sure how the mayor is able to continue to defend his actions.

Wendy said...

Thanks, Shamrock. I have e-mailed this story to people in Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, and California. I am sure that they will be as upset as I am.

My Dad is thankful that you and your colleagues are trying to rectify this situation.

It appears, from reading further on the blog, that some people feel that the outrage over this is politcally motivated. In my opinion, not being a Fall River voter, this is NOT about your Mayor, your City Council, or a great restauranteur. This is about what is REAL!

I believe that there is a definite story here. I can imagine that this would be great material for Matt and Meredith. What a heart-rending story when you have a 92 year old Veteran concerned about whether a fellow soldier's memory and honor is replaced with a "good citizen" award.

I will follow this story through your blog and the Herald News.

Thanks again for keeping people informed.