WWII Veterans Remembered: U-Haul Honors Pennsylvania’s Nelson M. Miller Jr.

Jun 21, 2020

Pacific Theater veteran and Philly native Nelson Miller will be memorialized in the lobby of the renovated Ford Island Control Tower at Pearl Harbor

U-Haul® was born as World War II was coming to a close, with its first one-way trailers made available to the moving public on or about July 4, 1945.

Nelson Miller, circa 1944

Just as U-Haul is celebrating 75 years of service this year, America will soon celebrate the 75th anniversary of V-J Day. This signifies Victory over Japan and is observed Sept. 2 when the signing of surrender occurred, effectively ending WWII.

Veterans such as Philadelphia native Nelson M. Miller Jr. returned home to start a new life after the war, and in doing so planted the seeds of prosperity for U-Haul, a product of the peace for which they fought.

WWII-era Navy veteran L.S. “Sam” Shoen and his wife, Anna Mary Carty Shoen, conceived U-Haul in June 1945 when they recognized a basic need while moving up the West Coast, having left behind most of their belongings since one-way trailer rentals did not yet exist. From that idea, an industry was created and a new level of mobility became attainable for every American family.

New Display at Pearl Harbor

Today, U-Haul is committed to honoring veterans and supporting veteran causes. This is accomplished through recruiting veterans and giving them hiring preference; direct assistance to veteran groups; participation and sponsorship of Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades; and supporting Pearl Harbor tributes.

The Company’s 75th anniversary tributes will peak triumphantly with the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum’s dedication of the renovated Ford Island Control Tower on Aug. 29. U-Haul Pacific Theater veterans’ bios and photos will be displayed in the tower lobby. Miller will be among those memorialized on the lobby wall.

The tower will showcase a new elevator, gifted by U-Haul CEO Joe Shoen, providing public access to the observation deck where America’s lone WWII aviation battlefield can be revered and our heroes remembered.

Military Service

Miller was born in July 1926 to Nelson and Henrietta Miller. He attended Northeast High School in Philadelphia, graduating in 1944. Miller enlisted in the Navy that July.

Serving as a boatswain’s mate on a Landing Craft Support, Miller and his crewmates aboard the USS LCS(L)(3)-43 were an advance unit in the consolidation and capture of Southern Philippines. They were also in the Borneo Campaigns in 1945, knocking out enemy gun emplacements, minesweeping and underwater demolition.

Miller was honorably discharged in July 1946. He later volunteered to serve in Korea, onboard the USS Boxer (CV-21).

Miller was awarded the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four Battle Stars; the Philippine Liberation Medal with one Battle Star; the American Campaign Medal; the China Service Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation; the Korean Service Medal with one Silver Battle Star; and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.

Engineer Extraordinaire

Nelson Miller, circa 1975

After the Korean War, Miller was trained by his father as a draftsman and tool designer, and worked for his stepbrother William Jewel in that occupation. 

In 1960, Miller joined U-Haul. He served for more than 28 years as an industrial engineer and production-process engineer at U-Haul manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania, where he designed U-Haul equipment and parts.

Miller, who will celebrate his 94th birthday next month, has three children: Andrew (Sandy), Edward (Jessica) and Kimberly (Greg). He has seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His late wife was Elinor Miller.

Veteran Ties and Appreciation

The Shoens started U-Haul upon Sam’s discharge with $4,000 of accumulated Navy pay and the courage formed by the cauldron of WWII. With the help of other veterans, the young couple forged their new enterprise from the freedom that victory produced.

Today, U-Haul serves all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces, helping millions of families move every year. Miller is one of the many veterans who laid the foundation for the present prosperity U-Haul enjoys.

U-Haul is one of a myriad of companies built by these incredible veterans, who are to be saluted and remembered during this 75th anniversary celebration. Thank you, Nelson.

Find more veteran tributes in the History and Culture section of myuhaulstory.com.

NOTE: Featured image includes Nelson Miller, seated, with the U-Haul Falls Manufacturing Team in 2014.

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