They Survived the Worst Battles of World War II. And Died of the Virus.

By Ellen Barry: For More Info, Go Here…

Inside the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home was a man who had served as a jailer to Hitler’s top aide. A man who had rescued Japanese kamikaze pilots from the sea. A man who carried memories of a concentration camp.

In 1945, James Leach Miller returned from the war and said nothing.

He said nothing about it to his wife, not for 64 years of marriage. He folded up his Army uniform, with the medals still pinned to it, and put it in the basement, where his older boy would sometimes take it out to play soldiers.

He joined the fire department. He went to church on Sundays. He never complained.

“That generation, they didn’t air their problems,” said his younger son, Michael. “He would say, ‘It was not a good time. I’ve had better times.’ He would not embellish.”

Mr. Miller was already in his 70s when he began to tell Michael, an Air Force flight engineer, little bits about landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day. “Fragments would come out,” his son said. The deafening roar as they waited for the beach to clear, crowded into a landing ship with other 21-year-olds. A blur that lasted 24 hours. The buzz-drone of Messerschmitts. Dust clouds. Mud.

Michael once offered to take him back to Normandy — World War II veterans were making the journey — but his father shook his head and said, “I’ve been there once.”

This story comes up for a reason. Mr. Miller, 96, who survived what was for Americans the bloodiest battle of World War II, died of complications from the coronavirus on March 30 inside the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. The virus has spread in more than 40 veterans’ homes in more than 20 states, leading to the deaths of at least 300 people.

The conditions inside the 247-bed, state-run home, where Mr. Miller had lived for five years, were so chaotic that his children cannot recount them without breaking down.

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