2LT Morrison R. Miller

2LT Morrison R. Miller

Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, USA
Death 4 Jul 1944 (aged 21–22)
At Sea
Memorial Site* Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines

* A structure erected in honor of someone whose remains lie elsewhere.

Plot Tablets of the Missing - Army
Memorial ID 199872068 · View Source
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Morrison served as a Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.

He resided in Allen County, Indiana prior to the war.

Morrison was a passenger on the S.S. Jean Nicolet.

The S.S. Jean Nicolet, a Liberty ship built in Portland, Oregon, in October 1943, was operated for the War Shipping Administration by the Oliver J. Olson Company of San Francisco and under the command of Captain David Martin Nilsson of Oakland, California.

The S.S. Jean Nicolet departed from San Pedro, California, on May 12, 1944 enroute to Colombo, Ceylon. She first made one stop in Fremantle, Australia and then departed from there on June 21, 1944 to continue on to Ceylon.

On board was a complement of 100 men consisting of 41 merchant crew, 28 Naval Armed Guard, and 31 passengers. The passenger list was made up of six U.S. Army officers, 12 U.S. Army enlisted men, eight Navy technicians, four civilians, and one U.S. Army medical corpsman.

Approximately 700 miles south of Ceylon she was struck by two torpedoes fired from the Japanese submarine I-8. Because of the ship's listing the Master (Captain), David Martin Nilsson, ordered everyone to "abandon ship" which it is believed everyone did safely.

Japanese submarine I-8 surfaced and called to all of the survivors to come over to their submarine. The majority, but not all, did so. Those that didn't tried to swim away and some of them did indeed survive. Approximately " 75 " of the survivors then boarded the submarine.

Captain Nilsson, Gus Tilden (radio operator), and Francis J. O'Gara (War Shipping Administration representative) were taken to the conning tower and shoved below deck. Of the three only "O'Gara" survived the ordeal.

The crew were held in two different locations ~ some on the fore deck and others on the after deck behind the conning tower of the submarine. Those on the fore deck did not realize that those on the after deck were being "executed" and thrown over board. Many were led, one by one, from the fore deck to the after deck to suffer that fate.

Soon a Liberator aircraft was detected by the submarine's radar and the commander of the submarine decided that he need to submerge. About 30 of the survivors, with their hands tied, were still on deck when the submarine went down into the sea. Some of them survived ... and some didn't.

Morrison "Lost His Life" in this incident during the war. It is unknown which fate he suffered.

He was awarded the Prisoner Of War Medal and the Purple Heart.

His remains were not recovered.

10 Merchant crewmen, 10 Naval Armed Guards, and 4 passengers, including "O'Gara", survived to tell the story.

( Bio by: Russ Pickett )When Morrison R Miller was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana during 1922, his father, Herbert Richard, was 32 and his mother, Alaska Helen “McGee” Miller, was 33. He had one sister Lois Barbara born 14 April 1917. Morrison graduated from North Side HS, Ft Wayne, Indiana in 1940. He then attended classes “possibly” at Purdue University for two years. On 22 July 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps entering service at Chicago Illinois, with his college experience he was assigned to a special aviation program at Yale University. Upon graduation of this further training Morrison R. Miller was commissioned a 2nd Lt ASN: O-867161, airplane armament officer. Lt Miller then received orders for deployment to the China/Burma/India theater of war.

On 12 May 1944 Lt Miller boarded the liberty ship S.S. Jean Nicolet which departed that day from San Pedro, California. Also on board was a complement of 100 men consisting of 41 merchant crew, 28 Naval Armed Guard, and 31 passengers. The passenger list was made up of six U.S. Army officers, 12 U.S. Army enlisted men, eight Navy technicians, four civilians, and one U.S. Army medical corpsman The ship made a scheduled stop at Fremantle, Australia, for bunkers, stores, and to discharge some cargo. Departing from Fremantle on June 21, she was bound for Colombo, Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka),, where she was to stop for orders prior to proceeding to Calcutta.

At 1907 (7:07 PM) ship's time, on this date, she was located in position 3°28'S, 74° 30'E or about 700 miles south of Ceylon. At this time, she was struck by two torpedoes fired from the Japanese submarine I-8. The first hit between #2 and #3 holds on the starboard side and the second at #4 hold on the same side. A few minutes later the Master ordered abandon ship as he feared the ship would capsize due to the heavy starboard list. All hands abandoned ship safely in lifeboats and rafts. Before abandoning his post, Augustus Tilden, the radio operator, sent out a radio message that the ship had been torpedoed in the above position. The message was acknowledged by Calcutta and Ceylon. This radio message was responsible for saving the lives of 23 men.

Soon after the ship was abandoned, the Jap sub I-8 surfaced. As it was dark I-8 used a powerful searchlight to locate the boats and rafts. The survivors were threatened with machine guns and ordered to come alongside by a Japanese speaking perfect English. Some on one raft slipped over the side into the water to hide but were seen and ordered to get back on the raft. Then they were ordered to swim to the sub. Five others, who were on the side away from the sub, were not discovered. These five were the only ones who did not board the sub. This five consisted of four of the Naval Armed Guard and one Army enlisted man. They were among the 24 survivors.

As each of the other survivors boarded I-8, they were immediately roughed up, searched, had life jackets removed and had all their valuables, shoes, and I.D. tags taken from them. Then they were bound with their arms behind their backs with rope or wire. They were forced to sit on deck with their heads bowed on their knees. Anyone who raised his head or made a noise of any kind was beaten with iron pipes and cut with bayonets. The deck ran red with blood and vomit.

While all this was going on, I-8 cruised around looking for any boats or rafts they might have missed. The sub also commenced shelling JEAN NICOLET, which was still afloat. As I-8 cruised around, a wave came over the deck of the submarine washing three of the men overboard with their hands tied behind them. Two of them, Carl Rosenbaum (F/WT) and George Kenmore Hess (A.B.), survived but Lt. Morrison R. Miller, U.S. Army, was never seen again. Lt. Miller had suffered a broken arm abandoning ship and he had no chance of surviving.

Perhaps a merciful death for Lt Miller as after he was washed overboard 77 members of the crew and passengers from the S.S. Jean Nicolet were tortured and executed by the crew of I-8 under the command of Tetsunosuke Ariizumi who it appears escaped justice during the postwar Jap war crimes trials.

2nd Lt. Morrison R. Miller, O-867161 remains memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines

The fate of the crew and passengers after the sinking of the S.S. Jean Nicolet is rather well documented by the Naval Armed Guard web page here:


William Flury, Liberty ship SS Jean Nicolet survivor account


Morrison R Miller NARA enlistment record, 22 July 1942 ASN: 16080133


Yale university airplane armament officer training


Limited bio and images www.ansestery.com

Also see, IJN Submarine I-8: Tabular Record of Movement


Gravesite Details Entered the service from Indiana.
  • Created by: Russ Pickett
  • Added: 8 Jun 2019
  • Find a Grave Memorial 199872068
  • Vindicator I
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for 2LT Morrison R. Miller (1922–4 Jul 1944), Find a Grave Memorial no. 199872068, citing Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines ; Maintained by Russ Pickett (contributor 46575736) .