Flag Flies for Robert Miller

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In continuing its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to Vietnam War veteran Robert Miller by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of March.

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Miller for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen.

Mr. Miller was honored at a ceremony at Hampton Bays Elementary School on March 11. During the event, Hampton Bays High School thespians performed two songs from the school’s spring musical, “South Pacific,” and high school VFW Voice of Democracy essayist Ryan Gunn read his essay, “My Vision for America.”

Mr. Miller, better known as Bob to all his friends, was born in Brooklyn in February 1949. At an early age, his parents moved to North Babylon and later settled in Smithtown, where he graduated from high school in 1967. Immediately after high school, Mr. Miller enlisted in the Marine Corps and was sent to Parris Island, South Carolina, for boot camp. Upon graduation, he was sent to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for advanced infantry training on the use of machine guns.

Mr. Miller volunteered for recon training and, upon completion, entered jump school at the United States Army Parachute Training Facility at Fort Benning, Georgia. Soon after, he learned he would be deployed to Vietnam. Unfortunately for Mr. Miller, the timing of his arrival in Vietnam in 1968 could not have been worse.  In January 1968, the North Vietnamese launched their biggest counter-offensive. As it began during the holiday of Tet, it became known as the Tet Offensive. Mr. Miller was immediately transferred to the First Battalion of the Ninth Marines and inserted into areas around the city of Khe Sanh. During his tour of duty, he was involved in numerous combat operations against both North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops.  

The normal tour of duty was 13 months, but Mr. Miller volunteered for an extra six months. It total, he spent 19 months in Vietnam before being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in the summer of 1970. After being discharged, he returned to Nassau County and joined the Uniondale post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Once home, Mr. Miller rekindled a friendship with a woman he had known since his early teens. Catherine Venter was a young widow with children. Their friendship blossomed, and in 1971, they were married. Two children followed, and today, Mr. Miller has a total of five children and 13 grandchildren.

For several years, Mr. Miller worked at various jobs before being hired as a police officer in the Village of Quogue in 1972. For his new position, he relocated to Hampton Bays in 1973 and then transferred to the Quogue VFW Post 5350. He stayed with the Quogue Police Department for more than 20 years, retiring in 1992.

Mr. Miller and Ms. Venter divorced in 1996 and Mr. Miller remarried. He and his wife, Rit, have been married for more than 20 years and reside in Eastport. After retirement, Mr. Miller decided to fulfill a passion of his: acting and movie making.  He started by joining local acting companies and went on to act in New York City. He was cast in several large productions, where he worked as an actor and a stuntman. These days, he continues his acting and movie-making career while serving as senior vice commander of the Westhampton Beach post of the VFW.