WEST CHESTER (August 17) – On the 70th Anniversary of V-J Day, state Senator Andy Dinniman’s office and Krapf Bus Company worked together to ensure that a local World War II veteran had transportation to an commemorative event in his honor in the Washington, D.C. area.

Alfred Miller, 98, of West Chester served as an Army Staff Sgt. with the 271st Military Police Company in India during World War II. On Saturday, August 15 he was invited to attend the China, Burma, India (CBI) Veterans Association commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Allied victory over Japan held at the Taipei Economic and Culture Representative Office in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Miller, the oldest known surviving veteran of the CBI Theater, was to be the guest of honor.

WWII Veteran Alfred Miller  with Krapf's Rover Driver Earl Eckbold, who volunteered to drive him to the commemorative ceremony on the 70th Anniversary of V-J Day.

WWII Veteran Alfred Miller with Krapf’s Rover Driver Earl Eckbold, who volunteered to drive him to the commemorative ceremony on the 70th Anniversary of V-J Day.

There was only one problem. With family members tending to his wife, who was recovering from health issues, he had no way to get there.

Miller reached out to Senator Dinniman’s office, which put him in touch with Gary Krapf, President of Krapf’s Coaches, Inc., Wayne Robinson, General Manager of Rover Community Transportation and Paul Sell, Rover’s Marketing Coordinator. Krapf’s jumped at the opportunity to help.

Mr. Krapf conveyed Rover’s thoughts: “When we were contacted by Sen. Dinniman’s office about Mr. Miller’s transportation needs, we were honored by the opportunity to offer our services to Mr. Miller considering the circumstances around the event he was attending and his place as the guest of honor. It was also a great way for us to show our appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Miller for his service to our nation. The Krapf Bus Companies employ many veterans throughout all levels of our organization, including two key players who were instrumental in ensuring Mr. Miller’s ability to attend this important event, Rover Driver Earl Eckbold and General Manager Wayne Robinson.”

Rover provides nearly 1,500 rides a day to citizens of Chester County for as little as 75 cents each way. They regularly transport veterans to the VA Medical Center in Coatesville.

With regards to Rover’s ability to help veterans, Robinson stated: “We are particularly proud to have been able to assist yet another veteran, Mr. Miller in such a significant way for this very important event.

Early Saturday morning, Miller and his son, Stephen, stood outside his home near Hoopes Park in West Chester as a shiny Cadillac Escalade pulled up to take him to Washington.IMG_1834

“I’m excited.  I just can’t believe this is happening,” Miller said, as he waved to neighbors, smiled and thanked Krapf officials.

Miller, who was born in Malvern, served in the Army from 1941-1945, spending most of his tour in the area of the Assam Province of India where the Ledo Road (Stilwell Road) provided a key supply line through Burma to the Chinese.

“‘GI’ stands for ‘government issue’ and we sure were,” he recalled. “Everyday they’d have you doing something different – engineer, infantry, M.P. Every day it was a different job.”

Zehao Zhou, a professor at York College, who helps coordinate the Keystone Chapter of the CBI Veterans Association, said that unfortunately, it remains a largely overlooked part of the war effort.

“A quarter-million GI’s served there and it is known as ‘the Forgotten Theater’ of World War II,” he said. “I and others are committed to doing what we can to raise the awareness, appreciation, respect and acknowledgement they deserve.”

Saturday’s event, hosted by the Asian Pacific World War II Atrocities Memorial and the Chinese-American community at large, included a special storytelling session where Miller and the two other CBI veterans in attendance had the opportunity to share their wartime experiences.

Prior to the event, he recalled some of the harsh conditions of his deployment.

“There were tough times. It got hard over there. During the day it was so hot you could fry an egg on a truck hood,” he said. “And then you had the Monsoon season and everything was wet. Mold just grew on everything. And at night it got so cold, so you had the hot, then the cold. There were some tough times and they stick with you.”

He also fondly remembered his friends and fellow veterans from his service.

“They’re all gone now, a lot of them younger than me,” he said. “But I remember on V-J Day, after the war was over, we wanted to celebrate, but there wasn’t a lot you could do. So, we had races – 100 meter dash – and boxing matches and so forth.”

Miller with Krapf Bus Company's Rover Mascot.

Miller with Krapf Bus Company’s Rover Mascot.

After the war, Miller raised a family and went on to successful careers with the Industrial Engine Division of General Motors and in management at Penn Mutual Insurance. A West Chester resident for nearly 75 years, he credits his longevity to a competitive spirit and a love of dancing.

“I can do it all – Rumba, Tango, Jitterbug, Foxtrot – you name it,” he said.

Dinniman said he was honored to be able to assist Miller and thanked the managements and staff of Krapf Bus Companies for their willingness to step forward and make the day possible.

“I want thank Alfred Miller and all our veterans for their service. Every day, we lose more of the heroes of World War II and that is why it is all the more important to ensure that their stories are told and that their service is honored,” he said. “I also must recognize the work of Krapf Bus Companies and its employees for their generosity and volunteerism in providing transportation for Mr. Miller to what turned out to be an exceptionally memorable and touching day. This gesture is just indicative of their ongoing work and efforts on behalf of our veterans, as well as our senior population.”

 

 

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