In Memory and Gratitude


The Six McMillan children who served in  World War II

Compiled and written by Gordon Howard

(husband of Jackie Curran Howard-a descendant of James "Emmet" McMillan)

James “Emmet” McMillan (August 22, 1885 - April 26, 1945) son of Jesse Council McMillan and Mary “Molly” Jane Johnson, and his wife Elizabeth Cordelia “Cordie” Jenkins  (December 18, 1886-July 1939), deceased before WWII), was the daughter of James Johnson and Charity Taylor of Ashe County, NC.  Jesse and Emmet removed from Ashe Co., NC to Simmons before 1907.  Emmet must have had a heavy burden on his shoulders when six of his eleven children were called to the service of their country during World War II. 

Cordie Jenkins McMillan              Emmet McMillan

  • Their oldest son, Fields Edward McMillan, was killed in a coal mine accident at McComas in 1929
  • Johnsie Mabel McMillan Curran wife of Lynch Alexander Curran of Thornhill
  • Jesse Cleveland “Key” McMillan
  • William Raymond “Ray” McMillan,
  • Alice Lahoma McMillan (died at birth in 1915)
  • Cordie Mae “Toots” McMillan Bare wife of Donnie Bare of West Jefferson, Ashe Co., NC
  • Myrtle Jean McMillan East wife of Charles Raymond “Cotton” East of Windmill Gap
  • Beatrice “Ellen” McMillan Quillen wife of Dr. Paul Quillen
  • James “Marshall” McMillan husband of Bobbie Jean Love
  • Millard “Mid” Vance McMillan,
  • Emory Lewis McMillan
This McMillan family lived initially at Simmons (before June 1907), then Thornhill in at least two different places.  The first place was located up the hollow along George’s Branch from Thornhill (close to where the Liquor Store was located) and on the north side of the creek that runs down from the mountain.  This is located about 500 or 600 feet from the main McComas road in Thornhill.  They then moved further up the hollow past where the road splits about another 500 feet and on the south side of the creek.  From there they eventually moved to Windmill Gap where Emmet McMillan owned the McMillan Grocery Store at the “Gap”.  This is where the crossroads meet at Windmill Gap (from McComas it is located on the right-hand side of the road just before the four-way intersection).  Marshall McMillan has modernized and owns the house near where the store is currently located.  His daughter Marsha McMillan Best owns the current store at Windmill Gap that is located in a separate building about 300 feet north.  During World War II, it was customary for families with servicemen to display a star type flag in the window to honor each child in the service.


Jesse Cleveland “Key” McMillan
September 28, 1911 - April 26, 1980
Second Class Petty Officer U. S. Navy Construction Battalion (Seabees)

Key served in the Pacific Theater.  Soon after the marines landed at Guadalcanal, his unit arrived and he assisted in rebuilding Henderson Airfield.  He had the responsibility to set up and run the light generating system for the airfield.  He also was at Guam and Okinawa.  His military awards are not known.  Key was one of the most distinguished persons the writer has ever known.  According to his daughter, Elizabeth McMillan Taylor, Key brought a unique cane back from the Pacific with him that he made.  It was of ivory with a lot of engravings that each had a significant meaning.  The details of this cane are not known but the cane is currently in possession of his sister Ellen McMillan Quillen.  The top of the cane is made of pearl he obtained from the ocean.  The glass handle was made of broken windshields from Japanese and American airplanes that had crashed.  He cut out the pieces that were translucent and formed them together.  Before entering the service, Key worked in the coal mine at McComas.  After he got out of the service he was a diesel mechanic.  Later he was a tool and die maker until he retired.  His voice was very similar to that of the movie actor Gregory Peck and he was a very distinguished person.  Key married
Hazel Eller and they had four children:

  • Scott Lee McMillan

  • Cora “Elizabeth” McMillan

  • Jesse Wade McMillan (stillborn)

  • Catherine Gail McMillan (stillborn).

Ray & brother Marshall McMillan in 1946

William Raymond “Ray” McMillan
August 27, 1913 - August 25, 1954
Private First Class U. S. Army 28th Infantry Division

Ray was severely wounded in the arm at Aachan, Germany.  He was sent to Memphis, TN for surgery on his right arm where the nerve was cut at the wrist.  They split open his arm up to the elbow to pull the nerve back in place.    He was awarded the Purple Heart and qualified for the Combat Badge.  Ray was the last of the sons to join the Army.  The Army had refused to let him go into the service because he already had four brothers serving their country.  He fought like mad to be able to enter the Army.  He eventually prevailed and was allowed to join.  Ray married Byrdie L. Garland.  All children were born at Thornhill, Mercer Co., WV.  Ray died of cancer.  He lived on top of Thornhill mountain next to his sister, Johnsie McMillan Curran and worked at the mines in McComas as a brakeman.  The children of Ray and Birdie are as follows:
  • Williard Raymond “Buddy” McMillan
  • Robert Edward McMillan
  • Alva “Jean” McMillan
  • Charles “Charlie” Lacey McMillan
  • Douglas Arthur “Pug” McMillan
  • Linda Carol McMillan
  • Jackie Joseph “Joe” McMillan
  • Jerold Everette McMillan
  • Billie “Lou” McMillan
  • James (Jimmie) Joseph McMillan
  • Connie Lynn McMillan.
  • June Elizabeth McMillan

Ellen McMillan in 1945


Beatrice “Ellen” McMillan
2nd Lieutenant U.S. Army

Ellen graduated from McComas High School in the class of 1941.  She obtained her nursing degree (RN) at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bluefield graduating in 1944.  In May of 1945 a letter from the War Department reminded all nurses that never before had there been a draft for nurses. If as of the first of the year  there were not enough volunteers there would be a draft.  With that message, nurses volunteered.  She was inducted at White Sulphur Springs, WV and receiver basic training at Camp Lee, VA.  She was then transferred in May 1945 to the Valley Forge General Hospital in Pheonixville, PA.  and was discharged  7 November 1945.  She entered the service after the war was over, but before the end of World War II national emergency.  Ellen married Staff Sergeant Paul Quillen in June 1945 before her discharge in November 1945. After they were both discharged, her husband attended college at Southern College of Optometry, Memphis, TN.  After receiving his degree they moved to Harrisonburg, Virginia and started practice.  They had three children as follows:
  • Phyllis Quillen
  • Lanee Quillen
  • Paul Quillen, Jr.
Ellen has always been interested in family genealogy and has generously assisted the writer on many occasions with the McMillan and Jenkins families.
Marshall McMillan in 1943

James “Marshall” McMillan
Chief Warrant Officer
U.S. Army


Marshall served with the 356th Infantry in Italy.  He was the Assistant Communications Officer for General James C. Fry.  Marshall stepped on a land mine on 4 October 1944 about 40 miles north of Florence, Italy and lost part of his leg.  He is mentioned in General Fry’s book “Combat Soldier” published by the National Press, Inc. 1968.  A quotation by General Fry from the book reads: “Then I paused to let my eyes become accustomed to the dim light.  My faithful staff was busy at their respective duties.  Bob Melcher, Major Louis Collier (my third intelligence officer, of Dalton Georgia, Sergeant Francis Costello and Corporal Douglas Allanbrook were working over maps spread on a rickety tableSergeants Sidney Zwirn, of Brooklyn, and Marshall McMillan (later to lose a foot at Mount Battaglia) were checking communication equipment.”  Marshall was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and held the Combat Infantry Badge.  He remained in the service until his retirement.  He married Bobbi Jean Love and they had four children.

  • Marsha Lynn McMillan
  • Patricia Darlene McMillan
  • Rev. Pamela Susan McMillan
  • Tina Maurine McMillan
Mid & Susie's wedding in Germany 1952

Millard “Mid” Vance McMillan
Master Sergeant U.S. Army

Mid served with the  95th Infantry Division in Germany.  He was a Combat Medic.  According to Marshall, Mid’s brother, Mid is the most decorated veteran of the family.  Among many other medals, he was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Combat Medic, and Good Conduct with 6 awards.  He was a Private First Class when he went into combat as a litter bearer.  One of the Aide Men was killed and he took his place.  From there he became a Combat Medic.  He treated young men that were virtually blown to pieces, comforting them with morphine until they died, then treating and bandaging the wounded.  He was then promoted to Sergeant.  Mid was not wounded during his time in the service.  After his tour of duty was completed, he got out of the Army for about three years.  During that time he worked at Sagamore in the coal mines at #6 as a brakeman and at #11 as a brakeman and motor man.  He broke his foot at work.  After being off a few weeks, he asked his boss if there was another job he could do to prevent injuring his foot until it healed and the boss told him no.  He quit the coal mines and shortly thereafter rejoined the Army where he served a total of 27 ½ years retiring as a Master Sergeant (E-7). 

After retiring from the service, Mid worked an additional 20 years at DC General Hospital as an orthopedic technician.  Mid married Susanne Anna M. Weischenberg in Germany.  They have three children:

  • Vivian Susanne McMillan
  • Timothy P. McMillan
  • Dean Mark McMillan.
Emory Lewis McMillan 1948

Emory Lewis McMillan
Seaman First Class U.S. Navy
September 12, 1926 - November 26, 1951

Emory served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.  He was a Navy Diver.  The last photograph of him shows he was Seaman First Class, but his last rank is not known.  Emory was hitch hiking from Norfolk to McComas on Thanksgiving morning November 22, 1951.  He was given a ride by a person driving a truck, it is not certain whether this was a pickup or a larger truck.  They were involved in a fatal accident and Emory was thrown through the windshield and killed on impact.  Emory was not married although in a memorial, his girl friend was Minnie (last name not known).  The memorial reads as follows:


In Memoriam

In remembrance of


Who died Thanksgiving morning

November 22, 1951

Sleep on dear one, take thy rest

We miss you so but God knew best

He saw you suffer, knew your pain

God bless you in heaven until we meet again.

Sadly missed by




This article was written and submitted by Gordon Howard