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Last week, 90-year-old Miles Filer shared his story about serving as a paratrooper in the 82nd Army Airborne Division; his jump over Normandy on D-Day; his capture by the Germans; and 11 months as a prisoner of war, nine of which he worked in a coal mine in Czechoslovakia, until the war was over.
The war was over – Miles Filer was rescued from a POW camp, returned home after an honorable discharge and began life again as a civilian.
He helped his dad farm for a while, then worked at jobs in St. Louis “for rich families.” His jobs included being a chauffer, gardener, caring for horses, etc.
He shared some humorous stories about the St. Louis jobs. While in St. Louis, he met Erma, his future wife. He had bought a Ford car, which he traded in later on “a ’56 Chevy, a two-toned job.”
He joked that he thought Erma was really interested in his car.
They didn’t get married for a while, he said. “I guess she wanted to make sure I was serious,” he said, laughing.
“We dated for three years. I worked out here on the farm and worked in St, Louis.”
When Miles wanted to take off from the farm to get married and take a honeymoon trip, his dad objected to him leaving.
Miles pointed out to him that the river bottom farmland was flooded and they couldn’t farm anyway, so his dad consented.
“We went on our honeymoon in the Ford. I’d never seen a mountain, and I was going to go to Pike’s Peak. Never made it there, but we went to another one just as high. That Ford got hot and always did after that. Nothing I could do to make it run cooler after that, so I traded it.”
Miles and Erma were married on June 30, 1951. “She wanted to be a June bride,” Miles said.
Their family grew, as four children were born to them. “John was the first one, then Teresa, than Paula (Edgar) and Paul,” Miles said. They lost Paul in an automobile accident 12 years ago.
He lost Erma on Feb. 13, 2003.
Miles and Erma were in the dairy business. “The most cows I ever milked was 60,” he said. “There were two televisions in Fayette County that I knew of and one of them was in my milk parlor.”
The children helped him milk and did other chores.
Miles was always a worker. After he sold the farm, he went to work for the city of Vandalia in the street department, with his duties including mowing.
After retirement, he had his own mowing business, including mowing for Ponderosa and Wal-Mart. He now mows for Crown Point Churc and Seminary Cemetery.
He often caused passers-by some consternation as he mowed precariously steep hills on his mower.
He is still interested in cattle and still, at 90 years old, does some mowing. He was talking about removing some limbs from a tree that was blocking his view of the pasture.
Soft-spoken with a little drawl, a good sense of humor and still active, he speaks well of his children and of his life. Modest and quiet-spoken, he has contributed much.