A South Florida veteran of the U.S. Navy who is celebrating his 103rd birthday got a private cruise Monday, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.
For his 103rd birthday this year, Harry Miller had one major request: to cruise in a U.S. service ship one more time and relive his life in the Navy, even if just for an hour.
"It feels like I'm back 70 years ago. Of course, in 70 years, I've been on many cruises, but it's nothing like a Navy ship," Miller said.
"Originally, I think they wanted to go on a Navy boat, but there's no Navy bases around here, so the Coast Guard (stepped) up, and we're proud to do so," said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Traci Flammeta.
"This is one of the best birthdays in my life. I have had three birthday parties in one week," Miller said.
Born on Aug. 28, 1908, in mid-Manhattan, N.Y., Miller worked as a dress manufacturer before being drafted into the Navy in 1941. Miller was a second-class signalman on the U.S.S. Wiseman, a destroyer escort, and later worked on a repair ship. In November 1945, Miller was discharged from Japan.
After his homecoming, Miller returned to dress manufacturing. He married and had a son, Alan. After his wife passed away when his son was 3, Miller later remarried. He was married to his second wife, Lillian, for 46 years before she passed away. Miller, who now lives in Pompano Beach, has a son, two grandsons and four great-grandchildren.
So what's his secret to a long life? Miller says his two sisters taught him to dance when he was 10 years old, and he has never stopped since. A doctor recently told him that dancing is actually exercise.
Even at 103, he uses a walker and can do almost everything by himself. He also said he never smoked and eats right.
Miller never stopped smiling during his tour in the waters off Miami and Miami Beach. He said his secret to staying happy and making friends is simple.
"One was when you meet someone, don't discuss politics. And No. 2 was don't discuss religion, and you'll never get in trouble," Miller said.