Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

EAST ALTON — St. Louis Regional Airport Director David Miller plans to spend more time with family and hobbies when he retires effective Jan. 1, he said.

Miller, 78, of East Alton, came to St. Louis Regional in approximately 2003 from the Montrose Regional Airport in Montrose, Colorado.

“We have no immediate plans, like, to move, because we’re embedded in the community with a lot of other activities,” said Miller, of East Alton, speaking about himself and his wife, Cora Miller, who he married in 1980.

“We’ll do some travel, get caught up with grandkids, that type of thing,” he said. “Whether it’s music with municipal bands or working with the Legendary Mustang Sanctuary or other activities, like ham radio, I’ll be able to spend more time on those activities.”

David Miller has won numerous community service awards, including Rotary’s Paul Harris Award and was honored by the Metro Area Professional Organization as a business leader. Miller will serve at the grand marshal for the 104th Alton Halloween Parade’s this year Saturday, Oct. 30.

Miller has been involved in a background capacity each year in the Alton Halloween Parade as a volunteer ham radio operator and member of the Lewis and Clark Radio Club for amateur radio operators, which coordinates logistics for the parade. He is a member of the Granite City Municipal Band, the Edwardsville Municipal Band and the Dixie Dudes and Dance. He was a past clarinet player with the Alton Symphony Orchestra and is a past president and treasurer of the group.

Miller was the RiverBend Growth Association chairman in 2009, and attends the RGBA past chairs board meeting, which acts as the executive board for the RBGA Board of Directors.

He also serves on the board of the Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois, and its committees of military affairs and Southwest Illinois Transportation Enhancements, as well as the board of the Southwest Illinois Trade and Investment Council.

Miller, originally from Salina, Kansas, operated the Montrose Regional Airport on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the U.S. at New York City’s World Trade Center. As the leader of that airport, Miller successfully commanded the shut down of air traffic on 9/11 and reopened the airport, the first in the state to do both without the initial direction of the Federal Aviation Administration. He also successfully advanced the St. Louis Regional Airport, invited more public awareness with annual events on the airport grounds, helped to expand West Star Aviation on the airport’s grounds and won lawsuits on behalf of airport thereby saving taxpayers’ money.

Miller was the past volunteer emergency coordinator for Madison County’s Amateur Radio Emergency Services and also maintained the county’s status as an official emergency station under the auspices of Madison County Emergency Management.

He also is on the board and past chairman of the Illinois Public Airport Association and sits on the board of the Great Rivers and Routes of Southwest Illinois tourism bureau.

Miller attended the University of Denver for his undergraduate studies, immediately enlisting in the U.S. Air Force thereafter in 1966, where he was stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, near Rapid City, South Dakota. While enlisted he received his master’s in public administration from the University of Northern Colorado though he never set foot on its campus.

“Professors came to the air base,” recalled Miller, who was active duty for more than 21 years as a pilot and officer, retiring as major in the mid 1980s.

He flew more than 2,000 hours each in the KC-135 refueling aircraft as a gas tanker, then cross-trained as a B-52 strategic bomber pilot, flying for more than 2,000 hours. Between the two planes, Miller amassed 888 days in the Southeast Asia conflict, which included north and south Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Miller was part of the Strategic Air Command on temporary duty assignment, which allowed him to pursue his education during wartime.

When the conflict terminated, he came back to the U.S. to Minot Air Force Base, near Minot, North Dakota, pulling strategic alert duty for nine months while active and where he eventually retired.

During active duty he had a two-year supplemental assignment, taking him out of the cockpit while still a pilot reserve, which started at the Ellsworth base and concluded in Minot.

“I was fortunate in this because I got into aircraft maintenance,” he said.

The rated supplement program landed Miller in the Philippines for two years where he met his now wife who also was living on a U.S. military base at the time.

Miller serving in a command post function capacity for four years and his final assignment as base operations at Minot Air Force Base prepared him for his civilian career managing regional airports.

He was awarded several military decorations, medals, badges, citations and a campaign ribbon during his military career, including an air medal with four bronze oak leaf clusters, small arms expert, Armed Forces Expeditionary medal, Combat Readiness medal; National Defense Service Medial; Air Force Overseas Long Tour ribbon, Vietnam Service medal with one silver and three bronze stars, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with combat device, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm device and Republic of Vietnam Campaign medal.

His first civilian position was as assistant airport manager in Flint, Michigan. From there he was an airport manager in Bismarck, North Dakota, then in Alaska at airports in Juneau and Ketchikan, respectively, before landing at Colorado’s Montrose Regional Airport, after which he came to St. Louis Regional in East Alton, where he has managed for nearly 20 years.

By senior