While doing the story about Ernie Sands (Drama Over Cologne) and him being shot down over Germany, I was able to contact MC Miller and get his side of the story.
MC Miller (Milard C Miller) was picked to be Pilotage Navigator with the Klusmeyer crew on Oct 14, 1944. Target was the marshalling yards at Cologne. MC was the second navigator because the Klusmeyer plane was flying deputy lead and needed another navigator. As it turned out the lead plane had to turn back due to mechanical difficulty so the Klusmeyer plane had to take the lead and Ernie Sands reluctantly became lead bombardier.
As the Klusmeyer plane left the target after bombs away it was hit by several bursts of flak, the first shattering the nose turret in which MC was sitting. MC was stunned and noticed a lot of blood coming from a wound on the right side of his face and he could barely see. Someone grabbed him under the arm pits and pulled him from the turret, the next thing he remembered was the bombardier (Sands) giving him first aid. MC remembered being drug back through the bomb bay and remembered seeing the bomb bay doors still partly open, (they never got completely closed when they were hit but were not open far enough to bail out through). MC remembered being pulled back to the camera hatch then being pushed out, then a terrific jerk! MC doesn’t remember much about his ride down (he probably passed out). The next thing MC remembered is being on the ground with one of the other crewmembers next to him. As luck would have it the other crewmember was Staff Sergeant Joseph G Pohler, Pohler was a German born American and was fluent in Deutsche. Sands had sent him out right behind MC in the hope that Pohler could quickly get MC medical attention. Well it worked, Pohler called to the German civilians in the area and quickly got him the medical attention he needed, the aid kit that Sands had stuck in MC’s jacket was used for his immediate care. Pohler even passed himself off as an officer and thus this also helped get MC quick attention, the Germans respected rank, even from the enemy!! The initial capture report from the German records lists Pohler as an officer! The Luftwaffa medical service took responsibility for MC’s care and he ended up in a Luftwaffa hospital in Frankfurt.
MC was in rough shape with his injuries and his eye ball out of its socket and
Millers eye was scheduled to be removed but a Luftwaffa Surgeon with the rank of Lt Colonel examined MC and thought he could save his eye.
. The doctor sewed MC’s eye back in the socket and bandaged him up. After a time the bandages were taken off but MC could not see out of his injured eye. The doctor said “lets try something” and they gave MC treatments of short frequency radio waves directed at his eye. After several days of this treatment MC’s eyesight started coming back and he regained it in full.
Miller remembered the doctor was from Hess and his last name was the Germanized form of Miller. He said he and the Doctor could have been distant cousins because Millers family was from Hess, a state outside Munich.
After his recovery at the Frankfurt hospital, MC was sent to Stalog Luft 3 to spend the rest of the war as a POW.
Another interesting item about the Klusmeyer crew: The waistgunner on this crew was Jewish and was named Raymond Silverstein. To protect himself in case of being shot down and captured, Silverstein changed his name to Sills to throw off the Germans. Raymond’s brother belonged to the 82nd Airborne and participated in Operation Market Garden and was wounded at Nimegan, Holland. He had been sent to a hospital in England. Sills asked the Squadron Commander if he could stand down on the Cologne mission in order to visit his wounded brother. The Klusmeyer plane flew without one waistgunner that day and the act of visiting his brother saved Sills from being shot down over Germany. The fact that Sills changed his name did not guarantee that he would not have been found out by the Germans. Visiting his brother could well have saved his life!
SOURCES: Personal interview with Ernist Sands, personal phone interview with Millard C Miller and Robert Ferrell, Article from the Daily Post-Athenian (Oct. 23-25, 1998). Also much thanks to Darin Scorza, 458th BG Historian and web site Manager: www.458bg.com