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Harry & Juliana-A Love Story

Updated: May 1, 2022

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In Greek legend, Helen's elopement with Paris is said to have caused the Trojan War. Eloping, or running off secretly to be married, has always had a negative connotation. Usually the weddings are done quickly either to save money or because the brides are pregnant. Today, eloping has become trendy as simply a more personal alternative to a traditional wedding. But in the months and days before the United States entered World War II, elopements were a necessity as couples wanted to legally pledge their love to each other before the Army literally split them up. And with the war looming, who knew if or when anyone would come home. Photo left Courtesy Darren

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Such was the case with Harry and Juliana Miller. Mr. Miller was the Navigator on the Rum Boogie Crew. He had enlisted as an Aviation Cadet in the Air Corps on December 12, 1941. Eight months after enlisting, on August 31, 1942, Harry married Juliana White in a ceremony conducted by a Catholic priest in Grant County, Washington, most likely the tiny town of Ephrata. At that time, Ephrata's population was certainly less than 5,000, and since both Harry and Juliana were from the Chicago area, I wondered why they chose this date and this place for their wedding.

The book, Snetterton's Falcons offers a probable explanation: The 96th Bomb Group actually had a short one month stay in Boise, Idaho where the process began of organizing the unit from a few WWI veterans and some professional soldiers into groups which could be considered teams rather than individuals. But the short stay ended on August 30, 1942, when the air echelon was directed to proceed by rail to Walla Walla, Washington.​

The group's departure split personnel from their wives. Lt. Col. Archie Old, the officer in charge, and a man who no one argued with "called us in and told us that all the wives must go home. His already had. 'We'll have no time for family life during the next few months,' Col. Old had said. And we didn't."

I think, for Harry and Juliana, the message was clear - it was now or never if they were to be married anytime soon. As a result, the very next day, about two hours from Walla Walla, they were married. I'm not sure how difficult it was to find a Catholic priest on such short notice, but they did. And their love story lasted over 50 years until Harry's death on September 22, 1992. Juliana died nine years later in 2002.

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