Corporal Robert C. Milan – Park 65

– For a super long time, Milan sat in my stuck file, he was an only child [no one alive to contact]; I had found little about him.  Things changed when I answered my phone.  My lucky charm is a retired chiropractor friend.  He checked in with me and I spent 50 quality minutes on the treadmill while he chatted me up.  He inquired, “So how is that park thing?”  I told him I needed a pep talk.  He then proceeded to tell me a story about how his mother once dragged him to a park dedication [“like a million years ago”] .. then something about his mom’s friend Gladys and her boy Bobbie.   Thanks god. 🙂 My lucky day. I found a little clarity and worked off that raw chocolate chip cookie dough I had abused the day before.  Honor the small things in life, they can change the landscape in an instant.  Thanks for reading.  ag

I'd love to credit this photocopied photo of Robert Milan because I feel so lucky to have found it. I can't. It was in a clipping file undated with no attribution. So thanks to that lost soul photographer who took this photo.
I’d love to credit this photocopied photo of Robert Milan because I feel so lucky to have found it. I can’t. It was in a  file undated with no attribution. So thanks to that lost soul photographer who took this photo.

SEMPER FIDELIS

Native Detroiter Robert Cole Milan (1920-1944) was the only child of Bert Josef Milan and Gladys McAllister.  Gladys fondly referred to her son as “Bobbie”.  Milan graduated from Detroit’s Northwestern High School and attended Highland Park Junior college.

His father was a Detroit violinist running the Milan’s Eastwood Orchestra playing events at the Eastwood Gardens Ballroom, Tuller Hotel and upscale parties.  His music could also be heard on WWJ radio live. After his parents divorced, Bobbie remained living with his mother in northwest Detroit.

THE SILENT SECOND

WWII knocked on Milan’s door and he enlisted for service leaving behind his factory job as a sheet metal worker.  He trained at Camp Elliot in California and was assigned to the Marines 2nd Tank Division, as a tank gunner.

Milan was a veteran of the Tarawa campaign, an especially bloody, three day battle in November 1943 against extremely fortified Japanese forces.  War correspondents who witnessed the fighting wrote of the stench of rotting bodies and food during this battle, “..one that would be remembered for life by every Marine that fought there”.

Milan survived this battle yet perished  June 30, 1944 on Saipan while providing the cover for the evacuation of a wounded Marine.

 

 

Courtesy of John Evans @ FAG. Thanks for trolling Arlington.
Courtesy of John Evans @ FAG. Thanks for trolling Arlington.
The Marines 2nd Division is known as the Silent Second; perhaps like ninjas. Insignia courtesy of RekonDog regisitered in the Public Domain.
The Marines 2nd Division is known as the Silent Second; perhaps like ninjas. Insignia courtesy of RekonDog. Public Domain.

 

Bert Milan, undated. A poor quality photocopy of a photo. No indication of its provenance. Bert is a little bit of lost Detroit..

 

It was World War II, so there’s always got to be one gory, reality photo.  Thank the stars you weren’t in this humid sea of hell called Tarawa.

The battle of Tarawa was brutal. Marines take cover among the dead. US Navy Public Domain.
The battle of Tarawa was brutal. Marines take cover among the dead. US Navy Public Domain.

 

Milan earned the posthumous award of the Silver Star and is interred in Arlington National Cemetery.   His namesake park is a large beauty with a snaking walking path; well-kept and  loved by Northwest Detroiters.

 

The Milan Playfield clocks in at 12 acres located near Evergreen at Curtis.
The Milan Playfield clocks in at 12 acres located near Evergreen at Curtis.

Thanks for reading. Andrea Gallucci. Copyright 2015.