A Modest Hero: Arch Milani

SSgt. N. Arch Milani, 8th Air Force

by JC Sullivan

On a Saturday afternoon, my friend Staff Sergeant Arch Milani and I had the pleasure of spending a few hours together. The last time we did this I had written about the highly-decorated veteran. Up to that time he had never worn his World War Two decorations. “My Dad would ask me time and again to put on my uniform and wear my medals to the Memorial Day Parade,” Milani said.

When I wrote the original story, Milani had told me, “One of these days maybe I’ll put things in a proper perspective and grant my father his one last wish, that I wear my medals and be proud of what I did in defense of our country. Maybe one of these Memorial Days I’ll put them on and appear in the parade.”  Milani never felt inclined to do that. “I was just so happy to get away from it all.”

Getting away from it all meant putting his wartime experience and combat missions behind him. As one of a ten-man B-17 bomber crew in the 305th Bomber Group, they flew out of Chelveston, England on bombing runs over targets in familiar-sounding cities such as Berlin, Cologne, Koblenz, Hamburg and Munich, Germany. On these runs his station was in the nose of the aircraft. He was the toggelier, the crewman who released the bombs.

Milani is a member of an exclusive and distinguished group, the “Caterpillar Club.” He qualifies because he was forced to bail out (hit the silk) of a disabled warplane. After hitting the ground in Nancy, France, a French farmer, armed with a pitchfork, confronted him and shouted, “Italiano!” mistaking Milani for an Axis flyer from Italy.

Enemy forces wearing American uniforms had sometimes parachuted behind Allied lines. Milani looked the part. He was, after all, first-generation Italian-American. To make matters worse, he had no identification to prove he was American – it all went down with the aircraft.

Taken to U.S. Army Intelligence, an officer ascertained Milani was from the Akron/Cleveland area. One of the questions he asked him was, “What’s the best way to get downtown from Shaker Heights?” When Milani replied, “On the Shaker Rapid,” he proved his citizenship. It turned out the Intelligence Officer was from Shaker Heights.

On his 28th bombing run over the Rhine River at Remagen, a serious leg wound took him out of the war. His Army Air Corps service with the 8th Air Force earned him numerous decorations, including the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart.

Why did Milani not wear his decorations for all those years? “I still have ambivalent feelings trying to identify the real winners of each of our past major conflicts,” he said. “Bombing railroad yards in Munich, knowing we were killing men, women and children, was something really disdainful. But it was part of what we were ordered to do.”  For years he witnessed the local Memorial Day parade. He even attended the service afterwards at the Northfield-Macedonia Cemetery. He was always with a camera but never in uniform.

Since my original story, however, something caused him to have a change of heart. “I began to see the age of the veterans was getting older and older each year,” Milani recalled. “They were also dying off, with fewer to carry the torch. Somebody has to remind people war is hell and no one ever wins a war.” Milani now believes that by appearing with his decorations he might help Americans to relate to World War II and other war eras and perhaps, in the process, personalize history.

“I think today is a good example. I have children and grandchildren who can link to World War II when they see me in a uniform. They might think, ‘Why was he there? For what reason was he there?’  By virtue of our presence, we veterans perpetuate this link and carry it to another generation. Hopefully we can learn from past mistakes. This is the best link we can have – one generation learning what actually happened and what the consequences of war are and always will be.”

In spite of his personal wartime misgivings, Milani is convinced the United States must remain in a position of strength as far as our own defenses are concerned. “We don’t ever want bombs falling in our country; never want our women violated by an aggressive nation. There’s only one way avoid that – to keep confrontations from American shores by keeping our national defense in a state of readiness.”

A lifelong resident and past-Mayor of Northfield Village, Milani and his wife Alice are parents of Pam Vercek, Monica Milani, son Victor Milani, past-Mayor of Northfield Village, and the late Kim Masseria of Walton Hills. They have been blessed to live to see their children’s children.



Editor’s Note – The official website of the 8th Air Force can be found at


An Army Nurse Remembers WWII Wounded

By Glen Miller

Mary Ellen Jones was among thousands of women who contributed by enlisting in the Army Nursing Corps to care for the thousands of World War II wounded men returning from Pacific and European battles.
Rather than choosing to work in a better paying civilian medical job, she and three classmates enlisted in the Nursing Corps in January 1945 after graduating from a Dayton nursing school and passing their state nursing tests.


“We never gave it a second thought. We thought it was our duty and we were prepared to go overseas if necessary,” said Jones, 91, of Bainbridge Township near Chagrin Falls.

Jones and her friends were told they would serve the duration of the war, plus six months. She had no idea the war against Germany would be over in five months and the Japanese would surrender in August.
After a quick six weeks of basic training at Ft. Knox, Ky., she was assigned to Crile General Hospital in Parma, a large military hospital that would eventually become a veterans’ hospital and the forerunner of the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in University Circle.
“It was very large, sprawling with barracks and took up several acres,” said Mary Ellen, who lived with fellow nurses on the hospital grounds.
Now Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus, the hospital had nearly 2,000 beds, seven corridors and a staff of 1,000.
Although Mary Ellen never treated them, the hospital also cared for 250 wounded German POWS, who were among the hospital’s first patients when it opened in December 1944.
“They were kept in a special section way, but I never thought they were a threat to anyone,” she said. “I would see some working in the yard when we went to and from our quarters, but nothing else.”
Mary Ellen worked in a rehabilitation unit, or what she said was then referred to as “reconstruction” unit where wounded soldiers received prosthetic legs or arms, and underwent skin grafts.
“I was just a general duty nurse – gave medications, took temperatures and the like – nothing surgical,” she said. “Our days were 12 hours on 12 off, although sometimes our working hours were split, with us working in the morning or day and then back again at night. We didn’t have much free time.
“Most of our patients were just happy to be alive and on the road to recovery,” she added.
When she wasn’t on duty, she chose to read, go to a hospital campus movie, the PX, or in the summer, to an occasional Cleveland Indians game – although being from Southwestern Ohio; she was a Cincinnati Reds fan.
It was during a Sunday evangelical outing that she met Charles Jones, a discharged Army Air Force veteran who would become her husband.
“We started by sharing a song book and things went from there, and we started seeing each other,” she said.
Mary Ellen continued to serve at Crile General Hospital following the surrender of Japan that August, but opted to be discharged in March 1946, five months before she married Jones in September.
She recalled her service as an Army nurse in “One Mission,” a documentary film interviewing veterans of many wars produced in 2010 by Chagrin Falls resident Todd Lyle.

What DD 214 Chronicle DOESN’T cover

DD 214 Chronicle covers a lot of territory. But it doesn’t cover everything. Here is a list of stories from Facebook that are pretty worthless to us:

1.) Lifetimes of Appliances
2.) Decadent Cupcake Tips
3.) How to Hire a Hacker
4.) Stevie Nicks Talks Addiction
5.) Best Ways to Re-heat Leftovers
6.) Skin Care on a Plane
7.) Betty White Turns 93
8.) Top Ten Western Ski Resorts
9.) Little Known Mascara Tips
10.) Kirstie Alley Shows Off 50-lb. Weight Loss

January/February 2015 – DD 214 Chronicle

Here is the latest issue of DD 214 Chronicle…

War Dogs Always Faithful! The Newspaper for Veterans and All Who Love Them. January/February 2015,  Now in our fifth year of service to veterans. Click on the photo for the January/February 2015 issue:

Dogs of War


Greater Cleveland Fisher House

By Tom Sweeney
It is a simple, straightforward story about wounded veterans and their families. It is about mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children.
When our young men and women voluntarily join our armed forces, each swears to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Brief though it may be, it is a solemn oath. Come hell or high water, young troops pledge their lives and honor to protect us.
Long after the winds of war die away, deep shadows of pain and suffering continue, though hardly noticed by us.
The Greater Cleveland Fisher House will bring light and comfort to the families of those troops whose lives were damaged or irrevocably changed as they lived up to that oath.
Our aim is clear, and vital. A Fisher House will provide comfortable housing at no cost to families whose veterans are in the Stokes VA hospital or as a VA patient being treated by the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth and others.
Fisher Houses are not new; they are gifts from Zachary Fisher, who passed away in June, 1999. At present, 62 Fisher Houses dot the map of America.
Building one in Cleveland will be an honor as well as a fulfillment of our civilian anthem during World War II, “To wait and pray for them ’til they all come home.” Today, as a combat veteran from Vietnam, I add this, ” … but if they are broken, we will fix them as best we can and do it with the help of their families, the Fisher House, and everyone from Greater Cleveland who ‘gives a damn’.”
Our VA hospital ranks No. 1 in the U.S. for its eight “Centers of Excellence,” and is a ‘step-down’ treatment center for patients from Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals. We care for veterans and those veterans need the medicine that only family can give.
The most valuable element in healing is the hug and hand of a parent, a wife, a husband or a child. Families who are part of the treatment have much greater odds of staying intact. It’s the relationship.
Remember, our veterans took an oath and took a chance on us. They bet their lives on us. It is now our turn to volunteer to serve those who volunteered to serve us.
Here’s the good news and the better news. The Fisher House Foundation will evenly split the cost of a Greater Cleveland Fisher House.
The better news is our Fisher House will have 18 suites in the 16,000 square foot home. There is no charge to families. Our Fisher House will cost $6 million to build. We are asked to raise half of that. We are just over the $2 million dollar mark and fully expect to break ground next year.
The Greater Cleveland Fisher House is a fully registered 501c.3 and all contributions are tax deductible by federal law.
You see, the “Call to Duty” is now ours. That call is to every business, corporation, government, veteran organization and every supporter of veterans.
In short, ‘give a damn’ and with the help of their families let’s ‘fix those who are broken’ as best we can.
It is our own oath. Take it. It is a debt that is legitimately owed. When we honor and help our veterans, we bring honor to ourselves.
Tom Sweeney, President
Greater Cleveland Fisher House
Combat Veteran, Vietnam

The Tax Man Cometh

By Carole Grady
DD 214 Financial Editor


Internal Revenue Service

I am sure that you have everything in order to do your taxes this year but, if not, here are some helpful tips.

If you are going to have your return done by a paid preparer please, please do not bring a bag of receipts for him/her to go through. It will cost you more; have everything itemized by category.
Be sure to bring all W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, student loan information, and anything that concerns your taxes.

If you donated clothes and furnishings to a legitimate charity, be sure to have all those items written down and itemized; i.e., five new shirts, daybed, six pairs of shoes, two tennis racquets, etc.
Keep your receipts as back up.

If you are going to do your own return using a computer program, be sure that you know the tax laws, especially if you have investments or have your own business, and file a Schedule C.

The tax laws for travel, entertainment, depreciation, use of home office can be tricky. The money you would pay an experienced tax preparer can save you in the long run.

If you do use a paid preparer be sure that it is not someone who closes down on April 15th and cannot be found until next year. If you get a letter from the federal, state or city governments, you will need to be able to contact the preparer for advice.

I hope all of you have faithfully done your taxes every year and are in Uncle Sam’s good graces. If not, one thing to know is that if you did not file in, for example, 2001, there is no statute of limitations restricting the IRS from added penalties and interest. This only applies to not filing at all, not late filing.
Another bad thing about not filing, if you were due for a refund that year you will not be able to claim it if the return was due more than three years ago. This applies to Earned Income Credit as well.
If you owe this year and you cannot pay the full amount you can request an additional 60-120 more days to pay without a user fee. If you need more time contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 to make installment arrangements. JUST BE SURE TO FILE YOUR RETURN ON TIME!

Happy 2015!

Carole Grady