Colorado World War II Veteran Celebrates 100 Years With a Proclamation

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Clarence Mills
WWII Army veteran Clarence Mills turned 100 on September 20. (Courtesy photo)

A Pueblo native and veteran who served during World War II, Clarence H. Mills celebrated his 100th birthday with a surprise.

With the help of Mills' nephew and his wife, family friend Rossa Griff, and Mayor Nick Gradisar, Mills' 100th birthday -- Sept. 20 was proclaimed as Clarence Howard Mills Day in Pueblo.

Griff said back in February, she promised Mills she would do something special in honor of the momentous occasion.

"He replied, 'Well if I am still alive," Griff said.

At the event, Gradisar asked Mills what the secret to longevity is. Still quick on his feet, Mills said, "Well, if I tell you it will not be a secret anymore."

Mills was born in 1920 to Clarence and Lucy Mills, the youngest of three children. He attended Centennial High School, graduating in 1938.

Four short years later, Mills was assigned to the Third Army, 243rd Field Artillery Battalion, under the command of Gen. George S. Patton.

"(Mills) was in France for a decisive strike against the Germans and crossed the beaches of Normandy in November 1944, two months after D-Day," Griff said. "His battalion is one of the very few who used the 8-inch gun which fired a 240-pound projectile as far as 20 meters. (Mills) and his battalion fought under two armies and four corps, and have given support to the Infantry Divisions, Armored Divisions, two Cavalry Squadrons and two Ranger Battalions.

Griff noted that under Patton's command, Mills helped soldiers in crossing lines during the Battle of the Bulge.

"Although he never received any commendations or medals for his service, he received several battle badges," Griff said.

Griff noted one of the commendations Mills did receive for his service -- a thank you letter -- came 61 years after the war had ended.

"The Mayor of Romba, not far from the German border wrote a note to the Unit that (Mills) served in," Griff said. "Thanking them for their service in giving them back their liberty. There's a monument erected in Romba to honor and to remember the 243rd Field Artillery Battalion."

After returning from the war, Mills began working for Jackson Chevrolet. Shortly after, Mills attended the former Capitol Radio Engineering Institute, now Capitol Institute of Technology in Washington D.C., which specializes in engineering technology.

After graduating in 1950, Mills returned to his hometown and began working for various television shops where he would set up and install televisions, then moved onto working for Southern Colorado Company where he stayed 30 years until his retirement in 1985.

"Get a job you love and enjoy, and you never have to work a day in your life," Mills said.

Griff reflected on her friendship with Mills and noted his hand in making history on a global and local scale.

"As Howard celebrates his 100th birthday, I realized that he was just not part of one but many other histories," Griff said. "That of the European War serving under one of America's greatest commanders -- George Smith Patton Jr., crossing the beaches of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge or the Ardennes Counteroffensive -- but also locally. He helped installed the first ever television in Pueblo."

Now retired, Mills and his wife of over 70 years, Marianne, remain in the Home of the Heroes.

This article is written by Alexis Smith from The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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