Busi­ness owner lends war vet a help­ing hand

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­news.com

Jay Jaynes was raised to have a healthy re­spect for the men and women who served in the mil­i­tary. One of his un­cles fought in the Bat­tle of the Bulge, while an­other served in the Pa­cific theater of World War II. His fa­ther and Jaynes’ third un­cle fought in the Korean War. That un­cle never re­turned.

“That means some­thing,” Jaynes said. “My mother al­ways won­dered what would have hap­pened if Bucky had come home.”

Vic­tor Miller also served in Korea as a flight elec­tri­cian for the U.S. Ma­rine Corps. When he spoke at the Oct. 18 coun­cil meet­ing; Jaynes lis­tened.

“He was dressed in a suit and tie with a ma­rine em­blem on his jacket… this man stood at at­ten­tion and ad­dressed the coun­cil very civilly. It just struck me,” Jaynes said dur­ing a later in­ter­view.

Miller was ask­ing the coun­cil to ex­plain why he

was be­ing charged penal­ties on his util­ity bill and re­ceiv­ing a hang tag ev­ery month, de­spite the fact he was mak­ing pay­ments on time. It ap­pears, based on the a list­ing of his util­ity bills and pay­ments, that he missed one pay­ment in 2008 and from then on was con­stantly pay­ing bills one month be­hind sched­ule.

With­out re­al­iz­ing it, the penal­ties, late fees and $ 15 hang tag fees were ac­cu­mu­lat­ing a debt he couldn’t pay with his monthly So­cial Se­cu­rity check. As util­ity bills in­creased be­cause of the re­cently colder win­ter and hot­ter sum­mer, Miller found him­self star­ing at a $ 1,000 bal­ance.

“ Hear­ing the man talk, I re­al­ized we only have a few WWII vets left. Our Korean vets are ag­ing. I think it’s our charge to take care of them,” Jaynes said. “ I served in the U. S. dur­ing the Viet­nam War. It means some­thing to me… he’s on So­cial Se­cu­rity, liv­ing month to month. That did some­thing to me.”

While Miller was able to pay off some of the bal­ance, he didn’t have the re­sources to han­dle the re­main­ing $ 650. Jaynes did and he gave Miller a fresh start.

“ Mr. Jaynes is won­der­ful. We had a nice talk, I gave him a hug. I didn’t know how to get out of ( the debt). Go­ing to speak to the mayor and coun­cil turned out to be a bless­ing,” Miller said.

Reach­ing for the Sky

Miller was born and raised in Har­lem, New York, where he at­tended ele­men­tary, mid­dle and high school, ex­celling in math and sci­ence, and learned how to speed skate, ride horses and play ten­nis at one of the lo­cal recre­ation cen­ters.

Fol­low­ing his high school grad­u­a­tion, Miller wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in life. How­ever, as he was con­sid­er­ing his op­tions, the U.S. Army was draft­ing young men into its ranks and was work­ing its way down the state.

“The army had no flair to it. I had bud­dies in the Ma­rine Corps. If I have to go , I want to be taught the best,” Miller said. “I didn’t want that wishy-washy boy scout stuff. The Ma­rine Corps was rough.”

He was trained at the Ma­rine’s fa­cil­ity on Par­ris Is­land, S.C. They trained the sol­diers us­ing live am­mu­ni­tion, in­clud­ing an ex­er­cise where the trainees stormed the beach un­der fire. Dur­ing train­ing around 10 sol­diers were killed.

“They didn’t play games, this was the real thing. The most fright­en­ing part was throw­ing grenades. I knew once I pulled that pin out that was it. I was scared to death. We would have to throw it and then dive down into a hole, then hear it ex­plode,” he said. “They train you to kill. We were trained killer. It’s not easy. Your mind­set has to change.”

Miller also had the chal­lenge of be­ing the only black man in his highly tech­ni­cal en­gi­neer­ing classes. He was re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing all of the plane’s elec­tri­cal sys­tems and worked on so many planes he learned to tell them apart by sound alone.

“My job was to keep planes fly­ing over the 38th Par­al­lel,” he said.

While in Korea, he lost many good friends, par­tic­u­larly once the Chi­nese en­tered the war. He be­lieves to this day that if the war had con­tin­ued and Chi­nese had pur­sued their push into Korea they would have driven the Amer­i­cans out. The war ended with an armistice in 1953.

Miller said he was treated poorly af­ter the war, when sev­eral air­plane com­pa­nies de­clined to hire him as a flight tech­ni­cian be­cause he was black, de­spite his ad­vanced train­ing and prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I said ‘I fought for the coun­try, so you could have the free­dom to work these jobs’,” he said.

Miller even­tu­ally worked for the Lock­heed Cor­po­ra­tion at John F. Kennedy In­ter­na­tional Air­port. Later in life, he switched to in­surance sales and also taught math and sci­ence at the high school level. He moved to Cov­ing­ton four years ago af­ter his son, who works in real es­tate, found Miller and his wife a nice home in North Cov­ing­ton.

Con­tin­u­ing Sup­port

Now Miller spends his time try­ing to break into a new in­dus­try. He is try­ing to start up a logo busi­ness and also works with com­pa­nies to un­load ex­cess in­ven­tory.

He’s also re­cently be­come a point of re­fer­ral for any­one look­ing for a car.

“ If I know some­body look­ing to buy a car, I will send them to ( Jaynes),” Miller said.

Jaynes is the owner of Honda of Cony­ers. For his part, Jaynes, who is also a newer res­i­dent, said he plans to con­tinue to be­come in­volved in the com­mu­nity and will al­ways be a sup­porter of vet­er­ans. He’s hop­ing to start a project to find all area vet­er­ans and have them in­ter­viewed on video to save their sto­ries.

“ If God gives us the abil­ity, we need to help peo­ple. My mother al­ways told me you never look down at a man un­less you’re reach­ing out a help­ing hand,” he said.

Sub­mit­ted photo/The Cov­ing­ton News

Me­chanic man: Vic­tor Miller served in the Ma­rine Corps, serv­ing as an en­gi­neer in the Korean War.

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