PFC Clifford Mills PGR Mission:
It’s September, 1944 and the US Army is marching toward Berlin. Near a small German town
(Zyfflich), an American Private First Class is killed but his identity is known only to God, his body
eventually interred in a US Military Cemetery in Belgium. A short time later, a family in Southern
Indiana is notified that a loved one is Missing In Action (MIA). They morn and move on. Time and
technology move on as well and, in late January, 2019, DNA analysis identifies the body of the MIA
Pfc as Clifford Mills of Troy Indiana. His family is notified that their loved one’s status has changed
from MIA to KIA. Pfc Mills had been a member of the 319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd
The Patriot Guard Riders are requested to provide an Honorable Transfer and Honor Mission by the
family of Pfc Mills. The Honorable Transfer is to escort the family and hearse from Tell City, IN to the
Louisville, KY airport and then to bring Pfc Clifford Mills home.
I had the honor of riding that mission last night and it was one of the longest and most moving
events I’ve ever seen. Having lived in Louisville in the late 60s, I was fully aware how complicated
the traffic was in the area and the route from the Sherman-Minton Bridge to the airport on the
Waterson Expressway. Our procession to the airport was led by a single Indiana State Police car,
that was followed by 20 motorcycles (Patriot Guard, Legion Riders & Rolling Thunder), 5 Slingshots,
me in my pickup flying the largest American Flag I have, the hearse and then 2 vans full of Pfc Mills’
family. I chose the pickup as Tail-Gunner to assure that no rider was left behind as the mission was
160 miles from rally point to airport to funeral home.
The assigned parking area at the airport was filled with police cars, fire trucks and press. The Delta
flight was on time and the transfer went well showing all due respect to the hero we were assigned
to escort home. When it came time to return, our procession formed up in the same sequence we
had used on the trip to Louisville but was led by more police vehicles than I realized were there,
(many were unmarked but they were all lit up now).
As we left the airport, all other access was blocked. As we proceeded onto the Waterson
Expressway, every on-ramp was blocked. As we proceed through Louisville at about 50 mph, we
were the only thing on the expressway that was moving. WE OWNED THE INTERSTATE. As we
crossed the Ohio River on the Sherman-Minton Bridge, I figured that was it and that we’d proceed
westward for Tell City like we came to Louisville. I was wrong. Although we’d lost most of all of the
Kentucky police units, the local police cars from the various communities in Southern Indiana were
continuing the traffic control and now, we had 2 Indiana State Police cars riding rear guard. Nearly
every overpass along I-64 had an Emergency Service apparatus parked with lights flashing and
American flags presented. A couple had ladder trucks with massive flags displayed. In every case,
there were personnel manning the rails, at attention, full military salute. Along the entire route on the
Interstate, not one vehicle passed the procession and most eastbound traffic pulled to the side to
honor the passing of a hero.
When we exited the Interstate onto Indiana Highway 37 for the last 20 miles, I figured that I’d seen it
all. I was wrong. As we pulled onto the exit ramp, we stopped for the first time since leaving the
airport. At this point, MORE police, fire and rescue equipment was staged and pulled out ahead of
our leading State Police car. Now we take the last 20 miles to Tell City. It’s 10pm as we approach
the city limits and cars are parked along the way with people standing there in the dark with flags
waving. We entered Tell City Indiana lit up like a late 70s disco.
At the funeral home, we quickly formed up 2 flag lines at the hearse’s rear door and saluted the
arrival of Pfc Clifford Mills.
WELCOME HOME SOLDIER- Tom Carr