Miles Aldridge, a World War II hero

Published 5:29 pm Friday, July 8, 2016

By Chanel Bingham | Special to the Advertiser

On a cold December day in 1926, Miles Aldridge entered the world as the only son to a farming family in rural Chilton County. Miles was always a hard worker, and as a young boy, he tended the family farm, growing soy beans, corn and cotton. Though there was little time for play, he took every opportunity to enjoy hunting and fishing.

He recalls that upon returning from a day in the woods with his cousin, his dad met them with the news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Young Miles was only 15 years old at the time.

Two short years later, Aldridge found himself volunteering for World War II. “I felt bad for leaving my family. I was my father’s only son, but he encouraged me to do what I wanted to do,” shares Aldridge.

World War II veteran and Chilton County resident Miles Aldridge with his wife. (Contributed Photo)

World War II veteran and Chilton County resident Miles Aldridge with his wife. (Contributed Photo)

With the consent of his parents, Aldridge set out to enlist in the Navy Airforce. “I passed all of the tests, but I couldn’t read the color chart,” said Aldridge. “I wasn’t color blind, but the doctor said I had color deception; therefore, they could not take me as a pilot. There was a shortage in the Merchant Marines, so I enlisted with them and spent two to three months at their training center in St. Petersburg, Florida.”

After basic training, Aldridge was sent to an oil refinery in Louisiana aboard a refueling tanker. On the ship, he served as an engineering officer and was in charge of the entire engine room. “It is critical that everything operates on that ship,” said Aldridge. “Men would make routine checks every 30 minutes and log that information in books. It was a constant thing of keeping that equipment going.”

In his many years of service, Aldridge spent nearly 90 percent of his time at sea transporting troops and supplies. Their ship was often harassed by German U-boats and Aldridge was part of the fifth wave to hit the beaches during the June 6th invasion of Normandy.

“Our troops would climb down nets on the side of the boat and transfer to a smaller landing craft,” explained Aldridge. “For months and months that shoreline was red with blood. It was a big slaughter.”

After the war ended, Aldridge extended his time in the service. “After the war, I was deployed to Australia and the Philippine Islands picking up 6000 GI’s from Europe and bringing them home,” he said. “We also picked up German POW’s and carried them back to Germany.”

During his extended enlistment, Aldridge found himself facing more wartime. “On June 25, 1950, we were a few hours off of Taiwan and the Korean War broke out,” he said. “We spent three years off and on in the South Pacific running supplies to South Korea through a western port of Japan.”

After the Korean War, Aldridge returned to Chilton County on leave where he met his future wife. “She was a Chilton County Peach Queen, and I knew she wasn’t going to be available very long. So, I decided to get out of the service,” shares Aldridge. “I got out in January of 1954 and we were married in June of 1954.”

After his time in the service, times were hard for Aldridge and his family. “When I came out and married and started raising my family, jobs were scarce and pay was low. It was hard to find a job,” he explained. “I couldn’t use my background, but I finally got an interview with an oil company. They decided they could use me and I ended up working for them for 32 years.”

Miles Aldridge is a true American hero, sacrificing so much to ensure the freedom of our great nation. The commitment and loyalty he displayed in his time of service is deserving of the utmost respect and our community humbly thanks him for his sacrifice.

It is the hope of Mr. Aldridge that more will be done for veterans in the future. “I believe more can be done,” he said. “There are lots of politicians and politics, but I think there is a lot more that can be done to help the veterans.”