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Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Oil Patch Kid

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James Miller is pictured in his late teens with his plane “The Last Straw.” (Photo courtesy of James Miller)
James Miller is pictured in his late teens with his plane “The Last Straw.” (Photo courtesy of James Miller)
From working on space shuttles for NASA to electronics at Disneyland, Artesia’s Miller has done a little of everything
 

By ASHLEY TRUJILLO
Daily Press Staff Writer

When NASA’s Discovery space shuttle landed for its final time at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, there was one Artesian who felt a special connection to the shuttle’s farewell flight.

James Miller, born in Loco Hills in 1928, retired from NASA in 1985. He spent his 28 years with the agency attending to its shuttles after they touched down.

“Every time a shuttle lands, everything has to be pulled out,” Miller said. “New stuff must be put in, checked out and then we would take it down to the original launch pad.”

Miller worked on all of NASA’s shuttles, but the recently retired ship ranks high in Miller’s mind.

“My favorite ship was the Discovery,” he said as he displayed a belt buckle inscribed with the ship’s namesake, given to him by the agency as a retirement gift. “It was my main ship, and I loved that ship.”

Before his days of delivering space craft, Miller came from a family of humble beginnings. His father, who spent his life working in the oil fields in Loco Hills, was born in New Mexico while the state was still a territory. Miller’s family has been in southeastern New Mexico for more than a century: his grandfather came to the area in 1887.

In high school, Miller joined the Air Force Auxiliary. At 15 years old, he knew how to fly an airplane. When he completed school, Miller joined the military.

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