From left standing: Ed Lloyd, Mark Conan, Matt Wallace, Gordie Pollard, Jimmy Mack, Loren Eastburn, Ed Baxter, AB Brand, Gordo Amsler. From Left seated: Gus Guenther, The Show Dog Himself – Former 614 TFS Leader Ken Miles, with Randy Stephen, Ops Officer, Bobby Beckel, Bob Breault, Les Frazier.
PALM DESERT, CA – Maj. Gen. Kenneth Miles, a highly decorated fellow F-100 Vietnam War Fighter Pilot and a philanthropist noted for his leadership at the Palm Springs Air Museum,died Sunday.
Miles, an 86-year-old Palm Desert resident, died at home after a battle with prostate cancer, family friends said. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
During his life, he was a combat pilot who flew many missions over Korea, Japan and Vietnam for the United States Air Force. After he retired, he was a key figure in raising money for the air museum and for the McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts in Palm Desert.
“He was the epitome of a gentleman and was a consummate warrior and a fantastic businessman,” museum chairman and CEO Fred Bell said. “He was a philanthropist and involved in the community in so many ways. He was a bright light in the valley. He was really a pillar of the community.”
Born in 1928, Miles served in the United States Air Force for 32 years. During his career, he flew 337 missions from 1967 to 1968 over Vietnam alone.
Miles received many honors and awards for his service, including the Silver Star, the third-highest honor given to military members for valor in combat. Other awards include the Legion of Merit medal, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and various other U.S. and foreign military designations.
After he retired from the military, Miles served on the board of the Palm Springs Air Museum. In 2010, the museum named its state-of-the-art Aviation Science Center in his honor.
And during a gala in February that honored decorated veterans, Miles pledged $250,000 for a new museum hangar that will house Vietnam-era aircraft.
“He certainly was a marvelous leader,” his wife, Karen Miles, told The Desert Sun on Sunday. “In the military, he was phenomenal — he did get a Silver Star — and he carried that leadership through everything he did.
Miles also was on the McCallum Theatre’s board of trustees and contributed to the Buddy Rogers Youth Symphony in Indian Wells.
Besides his wife, Miles is survived by three children — retired Col. Ross Miles and his wife Karen of San Antonio; Douglas Miles of Burlingame, Calif.; and Wendy Miles-Brower and her husband, Charles, of New York City — and by three grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday at the air museum at 745 N. Gene Autry Trail.
“He was a great warrior, a hero in the Vietnam War and a great leader for the Palm Springs Air Museum, and a very fine personal friend,” museum treasurer Bill Bramer said. “He very open to giving guidance and being helpful, and he was always positive.”