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Biography

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Professor of Soil Science. Robert Demorest Miller grew up in Columbia, Mo., earned a B.S. from the University of Missouri in 1940, an M.S. from the University of Nebraska in 1941, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1948. During 1944-1945, he served as an air traffic and air defense controller in the Pacific in the Army Air Corps. On August 28, 1945, he was a member of a small advance party sent to Atsugi Air Base near Tokyo to prepare for the major American landings beginning the occupation of Japan. Shortly after landing, he raised the first American flag over Japan, on the radio mast of a C-47, two days before American combat troops began the actual armed occupation. He wrote about his wartime experiences in the book: "Descent from Niitaka, 1941-1945: First Flag Over Japan." After the war, he worked at the University of California at Berkeley, returning to Cornell in 1952 where he remained until his retirement in 1987. From 1964 to 1965, he served as assistant to the Provost Dale Corson and from 1967 to 1971 as dean of the faculty, in which position he played a role in the peaceful resolution of the Cornell '69 crisis, remaining a lifelong friend of President James Perkins. He is considered by his colleagues to be a "Founding Father" of soil physics. Robert Miller died on April 11, 2011.