Glenn Miller Declassified

Glenn Miller Declassified

Glenn Miller Declassified

Glenn Miller Declassified


On December 15, 1944, Maj. Alton Glenn Miller, commanding officer of the Army Air Force Band (Special), boarded a plane in England bound for France with Lt. Col. Norman Francis Baessell. Somewhere over the English Channel the plane vanished. No trace of the aircraft or its occupants has ever been found. To this day Miller, Baessell, and the pilot, John Robert Stuart Morgan, are classified as missing in action.

Weaving together cultural and military history, Glenn Miller Declassified tells the story of the musical legend Miller and his military career as commanding officer of the Army Air Force Band during World War II. After a brief assignment to the Army Specialist Corps, Miller was assigned to the Army Air Forces Training Command and soon thereafter to Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, in the UK. Later that year Miller and his band were to be transferred to Paris to expand the Allied Expeditionary Forces Programme, but Miller never made it.

Miller's disappearance resulted in numerous conspiracy theories, especially since much of the information surrounding his military service had been classified, restricted, or, in some cases, lost. Dennis M. Spragg has gained unprecedented access to the Miller family archives as well as military and government documents to lay such theories to rest and to demonstrate the lasting legacy and importance of Miller's life, career, and service to his country.


State of Emergency

On Monday morning, December 8, 1941, thirty-seven-year-old Alton Glenn Miller hurried through breakfast at his home at the Cotswold Apartments, Byrne Lane, Tenafly, New Jersey. Like everyone else, America’s most popular and successful bandleader was trying to understand the staggering news of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Listeners in the New York area turned on their radios to find cbs morning host Arthur Godfrey from Washington on wabc sorting out the stunning news with news commentators. Tuning from 880kHz to 660kHz for weaf and the nbc Red Network, they found the same sort of commentary from professionals who knew little to nothing about what had really happened. Glenn and Helen Miller were not unlike millions of their countrymen who were surprised, confused, and anxious.

The closest Glenn or Helen had ever been to Hawaii was his band’s arrangements of “Aloha Oe,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Honolulu Blues,” “Song of the Islands,” and “Sweet Leilani.” Many of their friends and neighbors did not even know where Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, or the island of Oahu were. During the previous eighteen hours, Elmer Davis of cbs and H. V. Kaltenborn of nbc had tried to explain to listeners what was happening. Between the commentaries and discussions, sobering live reports crackled in from cbs and nbc affiliates kgmb and kgu in Honolulu. From distant Manila, the urgent voices of Bert Silen and Don Bell of kzrh came into homes from Philadelphia to Sacramento over nbc, describing in real time the initial Japanese air attack on the Commonwealth of the Philippines.

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