M.A.C. Goes to War – Carl F. Miller

30 11 2017

Lt. Carl F. Miller, circa 1917

On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war against Germany. At that time, my grandfather, Carl F. Miller, was a student at the Michigan Agricultural College (M.A.C.) in East Lansing studying engineering. He was also active in campus activities including varsity and intramural sports, the Varsity S Club and the Eclectic Society. (The Eclectic Society became Alpha Tau Omega in 1940.)

Carl was born in 1894 in Saginaw, Michigan to William and Bertha (Meyer) Miller and he attended Saginaw schools. He graduated from Saginaw High School in 1913 and entered M.A.C. as a freshman in 1914 as part of the class of 1918. As a sophomore, he was a member of the M.A.C. varsity basketball team for the 1915-16 season. Coach John Macklin led the team that year. Carl’s brother, Oscar (aka Dutch) Miller, class of 1915, was an assistant coach, and Spartan notable, Lyman Frimodig, was the captain of the team. The team had a record of nine wins and seven losses.


Group photo, possibly of the Varsity S Club, circa 1915-1916

It was during Carl’s junior year that the call to arms came. At this time, military training was required for all male students. His registration card shows that he participated in the military exercises at M.A.C. for 3 years and attended R.O.T.C at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.


Carl F. Miller’s registration card

In 1915, Major General Leonard Wood commissioned Fort Sheridan as the site of the nation’s first Reserved Officer Training Camp (ROTC). When the U.S. entered the war, Fort Sheridan was adapted to model the situation in Europe with trenches to simulate the battlefield in Europe. Fort Sheridan became the induction and training site for the Midwest states of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

On August 15, 1917, Carl was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.  It was during this month that Ft. Custer in Michigan was opened and became the home of the 85th Division which included the 338th Infantry Regiment. He was assigned to this regiment for the duration of the war. The regiment trained at Ft. Custer for a year and deployed to France in 1918. Carl was promoted to First Lieutenant on September 28, 1918. The 85th division did not deploy together; the regiments were used to reinforce existing positions.

The 338th primarily performed a defensive mission while in France. His military record shows that his regiment participated in operations as part of the Second Army between the Meuse and Moselle Rivers between November 9 – 11. This was the Third Phase of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The Second Army, led by Lieutenant General Robert L. Bullard, was directed to move eastward towards the city of Metz. News of the German Government surrender on November 11, 1918 halted the offensive.


Carl returned home and was honorably discharged April 29, 1919 at Ft. Custer, Michigan. He re-enrolled at M.A.C. and completed his degree in Civil Engineering as part of the class of 1920. The 1920 Wolverine yearbook lists his nickname as “Frenchy” and identifies him as a member of the Eclectic Society and the ’18 Club.


Senior year photo, 1920

Following graduation, he was hired by the City of Saginaw as a civil engineer and remained there his entire career. He married in 1922 to Gertrude McGavock and they had three sons and a daughter. He became the City Assessor of Saginaw in 1944.  During WWII, he was the administrator of Saginaw’s War Transportation Conservation Commission. He retired in 1961.


Biggie Munn shaking hand of Carl Miller, chairman of the newly created O.R. (Dutch) Miller scholarship board. Also in the photo are Jim Krohn (retiring MSU club president) and Duffy Daugherty.

Carl was a lifelong Spartan serving as president of the Saginaw Chapter of the Alumni Association. Many of his grandchildren and great grandchildren have attended MSU.

Carl F. Miller died April 23, 1967.

Written by Ed Busch, electronic records archivist





Saginaw News clippings

Personal files

Alumni Magazine, March 1954





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