Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Fortunate Ones

.             John, Betty Jean and Virginia Miller

Army Air Corps pilot Lt. Col. John Miller had planned a fun weekend in Atlanta. He'd be reunited with his family and stay in a first-class hotel suite downtown. But his plan was interrupted – just in time.

While his wife and daughter were in flight to Atlanta from Louisiana, Miller slept alone in suite 310-12 during the hours before the fire. The wake-up call he'd left with the front desk never came, but he woke up anyway in time to get to the Atlanta airport – and to leave the Winecoff Hotel.

Miller traveled to Candler Air Field. There, he picked up his wife, Virginia, and their three week old daughter, Betty Jean, who had just landed. They never made it back to the hotel. As they approached, they saw that the streets surrounding the Winecoff were blocked with fire trucks and the hotel was ablaze. They were fortunate. The airport rendezvous had saved Miller from being trapped in the burning hotel.

Later in the day John Miller responded to Grady Hospital's emergency call for blood donors. Six months later his shaving kit and partial bottle of scotch from room 310-12 were returned to him. The shaving kit still smelled of smoke.

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