THEN AND NOW: Veteran remembers service, comrades in Vietnam

Roger Miller is a veteran of the Vietnam War and has made his home in the Alberni Valley.
Roger Miller in a landing ship tank near Vietnam. (SONJA DRINKWATER / Special to the News)Roger Miller in a landing ship tank near Vietnam. (SONJA DRINKWATER / Special to the News)
Roger Miller in 2020. (SONJA DRINKWATER / Special to the News)Roger Miller in 2020. (SONJA DRINKWATER / Special to the News)

The number of Port Alberni’s veterans of the First and Second World Wars, and campaigns such as the Korean or Vietnam wars, are dwindling. When we see these veterans in uniform, be they members who saw battle, supported their brethren or entered areas of conflict on peacekeeping missions, we see the way they are today: navy blue blazers, chests full of medals, faces lined with character.

Last year, freelance writer and photographer Sonja Drinkwater approached eight veterans of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 293 and asked them to share a photo from when they served with their respective military branch, as well as a description of their role. She then took a photograph of the veterans as they are now.

The project was so popular that she has approached six more veterans this year. They are all active members of the Legion. If you know of a Port Alberni veteran who deserves to be featured, reach out to us at


Roger Miller is a veteran of the Vietnam War and has made his home in the Alberni Valley since 1974. He left the United States Navy as a PO2 electricians mate.

Miller was born in Burlington, Vermont and came from a family who served in the Army. His Dad Oliver fought in the Second World War and was in the second wave of D-Day on June 6, 1944. He had been enlisted for nine and a half years. Miller’s grandfather was in the army in the First World War.

“I enlisted when I was still in high school in 1969,” Roger Miller said. “I thought signing up would give me more options. I was sent to boot-camp just after my 19th birthday to Great Lakes, Illinois. It was so cold there.”

His next posting was to Keyport, Washington on the Kitsap Peninsula, where he was assigned to a torpedo retriever. They did the testing for fleet pick up after they were fired. “The torpedoes were not armed,” he said. “I was doing this job on the range in Nanoose Bay, one month on and one month off.”

Miller met Angie Tatoosh of Port Alberni while he was stationed in Nanaimo. “We met in September of 1971 and we were married on Feb. 21, 1972. We got married in the then St. Andrews United Church (now Bare Bones restaurant) by Rev. Roy Rogers,” Miller said.

“I had been training as a shipboard electrician in San Diego and that was where Angie and I started our married life.”

From San Diego Miller was sent to USS Schenectady, a Newport-class tank landing ship. He flew to the Philippines and caught the ship to Vietnam.

“We were in the Easter Offensive ’72 when we put 20,000 marines on the beach and many were slaughtered,” he recalled. “We were by the border of North Vietnam near Tiger Island and had shells flying overhead as we were five miles off the coast. That is when I received the combat action ribbon.

“I spent 10 months on ship and we went to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.”

Angie and Miller lived in East San Diego and their first son, Jody was born there in 1973. “Jody was only three weeks old when I went overseas again. Part of what we did was ferry marines from Vietnam to Okinawa.

“Sept. 26, 1974 I left the services and Angie, Jody and I drove straight through to Port Alberni.”

The Millers also have another son, Bill and a daughter Corie, both born in Port Alberni.

Miller went to work for Auto Marine Electric in Port Alberni from 1974-1978 and six months after he was laid off went to work at the pulp mill.

Miller makes it his mission to put Canadian flags throughout the Greenwood Cemetery on any stones that are not in the Field of Honour, wanting all veterans to be honoured. He also honours Michael Campbell, a former resident of Port Alberni who fought and lost his life in the Vietnam War. Campbell was originally from Nova Scotia and Miller promised Campbell’s mother that he would always visit him.

Remembrance Day

Just Posted

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens after accident at Taylor River Flats

Multi-vehicle crash had closed highway to west coast

The Rollin Art Centre is holding children’s art camps this summer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Celebrate art in the garden

Rollin Art Centre will host art event on Saturday, June 26

The King Edward Liquor Store sponsored the Alberni Golf Club’s event on June 13. From left to right are Ken Porteous (manager of the King Edward Liquor Store) and Alberni Golf Club Members Don MacGowan, John Robbins and Wayne Cheveldave. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ALBERNI GOLF: Doug Cheetham records hole in one

Next Sunday is an open day with the best gross and the best net up for grabs

Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous writer, artist and educator. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Electric Mermaid online event hosts panel of Indigenous writers

Event takes place through Char’s Landing in Port Alberni

San Group owners Suki, left, and Kamal Sanghera with technical manager Richard Zeller at their facility in Port Alberni in Feb. 2021. The forestry company is looking at expanding its business into northwest B.C. by setting up a manufacturing unit in Terrace. (SUSAN QUINN/ Black Press file photo)
Forestry company San Group eyes Terrace for northwest B.C expansion

The company looks at Skeena Industrial Park to set up a sawmill manufacturing unit

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read